Giants Final Tune-Up – A Success For All Three

2/24:  Redwood Baseball has been on the field since February 5th and wrapped up their practice schedule with a scrimmage against Riordan in the bitter cold on Saturday.

Coach Firenzi gets the ground rules at Riordan on a sunny but bitter cold day

All three clubs walked away with wins, with the Freshman squad claiming the largest margin of victory in their respective un-scored, non-league, unofficial final tune-up shutting out Riordan 16-0.  “I think we are going to see a lot of scores like that this year from our younger guys, both the Freshman and the Junior Varsity teams are going to be very good this year”, Head Coach Mike Firenzi said.

The Varsity Team will also be strong in 2018 with fifteen returning players and six new additions filling out their twenty-one man roster.  Returning starting catcher Mackie Skall along with Juniors Jake Nordstrom and Sam Warren will drop the signs to a strong pitching staff.  Seniors Oliver Pearson, Josh Cohen, Blake Cusick, Andreas Gleckman along with Juniors Kyle Felder, Robbie Wilson, Jackson Bender and Sophomore Nick Welch round out a very deep pitching core.

2017 First Team All-MCAL Dane Goodman adjusts to a ball to center at Riordan

Returning players Michael Connors, Genki LeClair, Pascal Brassey, Jackson Barry, two-time All-MCAL Anthony Pomilia, and Dio Cornet (who transferred from the Dominican Republic to Redwood for his senior year), along with Wilson will represent the Giants in the infield. Returners Jack Morkin, Drew Jacks, and 2017 First Team All-MCAL Dane Goodman, along with Warren, Wilson and Cohen will patrol the expanses of the outfield.

When asked about how he felt about how the Varsity team played on Saturday and his outlook for the season Firenzi’s face lit up with excitement.  “I think we gave up just one hit and threatened on offense just about every inning today.  We played defense and only made a few mistakes.  We are deep in all positions.  We have all the pieces to the puzzle, we are still figuring out where everything fit…but we are close.  As long as we stay healthy, we will compete this year.

The Varsity Giants open their pre-season campaign at Moody on Tuesday, 2/27 at 3:30.  They will turn-around and face off against Casa Grande on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 and round out the week with game against Bishop O’Dowd at Moody on Friday, 3/2 at 3:30.  The Junior Varsity will face off against Casa Grande on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 at Casa Grande and finish the week on the road against Bishop O’Dowd on Friday 3/2, at 3:30.  The Freshman play Casa Grande at Endriss Field on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 and close out the week at Endriss Field on Friday, 3/2 against Bishop O’Dowd at 3:30.

Come out and support your Redwood Giants!

Varsity Season Ended By Rival Marin Catholic

5/23:  After knocking the Giants out of the MCAL Championship, the Marin Catholic Wildcats completed the ‘One-Two Punch’ and knocked Redwood out of the NCS Baseball Championship with a 5-1 victory in Kentfield.

All-League Honorable Mention pitchers Jack Harris and Michael Benz squared off on the mound with Harris atoning for his early season loss against the Giants, earning the complete game victory while Benz took the loss for Redwood.  Harris gave up just one run, scattering seven hits while striking out two.  Benz was lifted in the second inning for sophomore Kyle Felder who gave up just one run in four and two-thirds innings of work.

Redwood threatened in the top of the first after Josh Cohen and Nicolas Belgum both singled to set the table for the heart of the order with one out.  Cohen was erased at the plate on a grounder to third on a contact play and the inning ended on another ground out to third.  “The same dog that’s bitten us for two months, bit us again today.  We get runners on second base and we stop hitting, that’s been our problem for about two months.  It’s not a lack of hits or a lack of baserunners, we just can’t drive guys in, and that happens sometimes.” Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.

MC scored in the bottom of the first on a balk with a runner on third, and the Giants answered with a run of their own in the top of the second after Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a single to right and later scored when sophomore Jack Morkin ‘bit that dog back’ and singled with a runner in scoring position.  The hot hitting Wildcats unleashed in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs on three hits.  Benz was lifted for Felder who induced a double play to shortstop Anthony Pomilia who tossed to second baseman Genki LeClair who fired a strike to first to end the inning with the Wildcats up 4-1.

MC scored another run in the bottom of the fifth, but as it turned out they would just need two runs to end the Giants season.

Josh Cohen, Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia, Aubrey Sine and Genki LeClair all had hits with Jack Morkin adding two to the Giants total.  The Giants ended the year with a 16-11 season record and a 12-6 MCAL record, ranking 9th in the NCS Division II Rankings.

Post Script:  MC lost to Casa Grande in the next round of the DII Championship.  Drake won the DIII Championship.  Monte Vista and Casa Grande both lost their DI and DII Championship games.  Of the six teams competing in the DI-DIII Championship games, the Giants played three teams and had a 3-1 record against them, beating Monte Vista and losing to Casa Grande in the pre-season while defeating Drake twice during conference play.  “We were a legitimate NCS Championship team when we were at full strength, I’m proud of our team and what we accomplished this year,” Firenzi said in conclusion of the year.

Redwood Freshmen secure outright MCAL title with 5-3 win over Drake

The win gives Redwood sole possession of the MCAL title as they finished with an 11-1 mark in league play and 19-4 overall.  The team finished the season on a 13 game winning streak.

The Giants got on the board first with two runs in the second. With two outs Jack Van Hooser hit an infield single and advanced to second on an error by the shortstop that allowed Aaron Kim to reach base.  Jackson Reed then drove the first pitch he saw for a double scoring both Van Hooser and Kim and giving Redwood the 2-0 lead.

In the fourth inning the Giants added to their lead.  With two down and the bases empty Jonathan Yu hit a first pitch line drive single to right.  Nick Welch then also singled on a first pitch offering and both runners advanced on the throw leaving Yu at third and Welch at second for Jake Gassman.  Gassman did not waste the opportunity as he took a 2-2 pitch to right for a two-run single making it 4-0 Redwood.

It would stay that way until Drake pushed a run across in the top of the fifth to make it 4-1.

Redwood got the run back in the sixth. Sander Leszczynski led off the inning and was hit by a pitch.  Ben Rafner followed and was also plunked putting runners at first and second.  Van Hooser then grounded into a fielder’s choice with Rafner erased at second but Leszczynski advancing to third.  Willie Sine was next and drove a pitch to center for a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 Giants.

Drake would not go easily as they mounted a rally in the top of the seventh that led to two runs but that was the extent of the damage with Redwood holding on for the 5-3 win and the MCAL crown.

Jesse Gassman started and went six innings giving up just one run on three hits while striking out three. Matthew Smallbach came on in relief in the seventh and finished the game by inducing a groundout to second with two runners on and Redwood clinging to a two run lead.

Giants Earn NCS Bid-Five Players Earn MCAL All-League Honors

5/21:  The Giants earned their third straight NCS bid today with the #9 seed in the DII NCS Championship Playoffs and will face off against Marin Catholic on Tuesday at 5pm at MC.  Redwood will likely face Jack Harris again who has a 1-1 record against the Giants, losing earlier in the year and winning in the MCAL Playoff game on Thursday night.

Redwood had five players who achieved All-League Honors

Dane Goodman was the only Giant this year to earn First Team All-League honors.  Goodman ended the season with a .406 batting average which led the team and ranked #3 in the MCAL.  He ranked #7 in the MCAL, boasting a .515 slugging percentage and his 18 runs scored ranked 5th in the league. He ranked 3rd in the league for On-Base-Percentage (.494) while knocking in 18 runs during the MCAL season.

Captain Nicolas Belgum earned Second Team honors for the second year in a row.  In 2016 Belgum was a honoree as an outfielder and this year he earned the honor as an infielder, playing the majority of the season at first base and moving to second base later in the year.  Belgum boasted a .321 batting average and ranked eleventh in the league with ten RBI’s.  He tied for seventh in the league with twelve runs scored and was tenth in the league with a .448 on-base-percentage.

Anthony Pomilia also earned his second All-League award by earning Honorable Mention.  Despite a shortened season, Pomilia ended the year with a .375 batting average which ranked ninth in the league.  His twelve RBI’s ranked sixth in the MCAL.

Michael Benz earned Honorable Mention as a pitcher.  His 1.39 ERA ranked seventh in the league and his two wins ranked twelfth.  His thirty-seven strike-outs ranked sixth in the MCAL.  He also had a 1.000 fielding percentage.

Trevor Foehr also earned Honorable Mention.  Foehr played in the outfield, as a catcher and a pitcher placing him in the ‘Utility’ category.  Foehr’s .385 batting average ranked seventh in the league and second on the team.  He also boasted a .979 fielding percentage.

 

Giants Fall to MC

5/18:  The Giants fell to the Marin Catholic Wildcats in the second round of the MCAL playoffs tonight at Albert Park.  Marin Catholic moves on the face round-robin champion Drake on Friday night.  The Giants will wait until the completion of the NCS seeding meeting to see if their season will continue or end with this bitter loss.

Blake Cusick took the mound for the Giants and held the Wildcats scoreless through three innings but after a base hit and a walk, he was relieved by Michael Benz.  Benz induced a pop-out to Nicolas Belgum to record the first out of the inning.  Marin Catholic advanced both runners into scoring position on a passed ball.  With the infield drawn in, MC’s pinch-hitter roped a hard grounder to the right side that got through scoring the runner from third.  Another run scored on the same play when the batter attempted to advance to second and the relay man sent the ball into centerfield, putting the Wildcats up 2-0.  Benz struck out the next batter and the inning ended on a fly out to Belgum.

MC starting pitcher, Jack Harris, and Benz would both face the minimum batters for the next three innings with Harris striking out a total of seven while giving up just four hits in his complete game shut-out of the Giants.

Dane Goodman and Trevor Foehr had hits for Redwood and Anthony Pomilia accounted for half of the Giants hits, banging out two hits under the lights.   Marin Catholic recorded five hits and had no errors, Redwood had two errors.

“We got beat tonight but the season but I don’t think the season is over”, Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.  “We’ll see what the NCS Seeding Committee says, we beat Drake twice and beat Monte Vista, we should get a seed and play next week.”

Giants Roll into Second Round of MCAL Championship

5/16:  The Redwood Giants punched their ticket into the second round of the MCAL playoffs by beating the San Rafael Bulldogs 5-1 at Moody Field today.  Redwood donned their home white uniforms with red sleeves and hats, a look that Head Coach Mike Firenzi has reserved only for the post season.  Ironically, it is the same look that the 1977 team sported for their home games during their run to the mythical National Championship forty years ago.

Sophomore Kyle Felder got the start and held the Bulldogs scoreless through four innings, giving up just three hits while striking out three and walking none.  Trevor Foehr pitched two innings, giving up an earned run on two hits and a strike out.  Zack Tonnerre pitched the final inning, sending the Bulldogs down in order to secure the victory for the Giants.

After eight pitches in the bottom of the first inning, Dane Goodman and Josh Cohen both reached base on back-to-back walks.  Nicolas Belgum sent them both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.  Anthony Pomilia was intentionally walked to load the bases and face Aubrey Sine with one out.  Sine blazed an 0-2 fastball into the hole between short and third for a single to put the Giants up 1-0, answering the intentional walk with his bat.

After a quiet second inning and top of the third, Josh Cohen led off the bottom of the inning with a drag bunt single and stole second.  Nicolas Belgum dropped another bunt down the third baseline for a hit, advancing Cohen to third.  Belgum stole second and after a strike out, Aubrey Sine plated Cohen for his second RBI of the game on a ground out to short to put the Giants up 2-0 after three innings.

Felder’s first pitch of the top of the fourth was sent high into the sky towards the middle of the diamond.  Michael Benz called off his pitcher and caught the fly in at the mound.  Felder then sent down the next two batters he faced on strike-outs, closing out his day with fifty pitches and setting himself up for the win, while making him eligible to pitch on Friday.  Sophomore Jack Morken singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and was lifted for the speedy Drew Jacks.  After a strike out, Michael Benz walked after fouling off a 3-2 pitch and was lifted for Riley Marsh.  Marsh drew a pick-off attempt at first and the ball sailed over the first baseman’s head, plating Jacks from second and sending Marsh to third.  Dane Goodman sent Marsh home on a grounder to short, putting the Giants up 4-0.  Josh Cohen then wore a 2-1 curveball and stole second.  With two outs, Nicolas Belgum reached on an error, scoring Cohen on the errant throw to put the Giants up 5-0 going into the top of the fifth.

Trevor Foehr came in and gave up a run to the Bulldogs in the fifth, but shut them down in the top of the sixth.  Mackie Skall doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and was lifted for Genki LeClair.  LeClair would be left standing on third with Cohen on first (after he walked) after Nicolas Belgum tested the Bulldogs centerfielder on a bomb that was caught over his shoulder in a full sprint as he was approaching the wall.

Zack Tonnerre closed out the game by striking out the side in the top of the seventh.  The Giants fans cheered as their team hustled off of the field and filed into the post-game handshake line at home plate.  There was no on-field celebration as this group of young men appears to be on a mission with today’s win getting them one step closer to their penultimate goal of winning their third MCAL Championship a feat they will have to accomplish ‘the hard way’ by sweeping the play-offs from the play-in game.

Kyle Felder earned his first Varsity win.  Dane Goodman scored and knocked in a run.  Josh Cohen had a hit and scored twice for the Giants.  Nicolas Belgum, Jack Morken and Mackie Skall also had hits with Aubrey Sine adding a hit and two RBI’s to the fray.

Redwood will square off with Marin Catholic on Thursday night at 7pm at Albert Park with hopes of redeeming theirselves after their tough home loss to the Wildcats on  May 5.  The Wildcats are riding a six game winning streak, posting twelve-plus hits in each of their wins during this run.

On the other side of the draw, San Marin upset Tam today and will face Drake on Wednesday with the winner set to battle the victor of the Redwood-MC game for the championship.  The Championship is set for Friday night.

Varsity Regular Season Ends On High Note

5/11:  The Varsity Giants closed out their regular season schedule with a win today and are on a two-game winning streak.  Redwood needed the win to secure third place in the MCAL and did so in commanding fashion, beating Branson at College of Marin 6-3.

Blake Cusick earned his third win of the year and dropped his MCAL ERA to .78 which ranks third among pitchers in the MCAL, after giving up just one earned run in six innings.  Cusick gave up just five hits, struck out five and only walked one.  Sophomore Kyle Felder closed out the game, pitching a scoreless seventh inning.  Felder was the workhorse on the JV League Champion team, and led the team with twelve appearances while boasting a .70 ERA.  Remarkably, in forty-nine innings of work, Felder struck out fifty-seven and walked just five.

The Giants still managed to commit a couple of errors in the field and both of the miscues resulted in runs for the Bulldogs.  The Giants offense would do enough to compensate for the blunders, scoring two runs in the second, adding another in the third and fifth innings and posted two more in the sixth for the six run total.

Anthony Pomilia, Gregory Block, and Josh Katz had hits for the Giants with Luke Zlatunich, and Josh Cohen each had two hits.  Jack Morkin, another Sophomore call-up added two hits himself to the Giants total.  In his first Varsity at-bat, Morkin smoked a grounder to right, for his first hit of his Varsity career and scored later in the inning.  Jack hit .350 for the Junior Varsity Giants, with four doubles and four triples.  Morkin singled up the middle in his second at-bat, knocking in Luke Zlatunich for his first Varsity RBI.  Pomilia and Block also had RBI’s with Josh Katz knocking in two runs for the Giants.

The Giants will need to win three straight in order to win their third MCAL Championship in a row.  The journey begins on Tuesday when they will host the San Rafael Bulldogs at Moody Field at 4:30.  The Bulldogs handed the Giants a tough loss under the lights in a game that was won in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off error.

A Giants loss would end their consecutive MCAL Championship streak and the Giants will fight for a bid into the NCS Tournament.  If the Giants win, they will play in a rematch battle with Marin Catholic under the lights at Albert Park on Thursday.  Marin Catholic earned the #2 seed and the first round bye.  Tam hosts San Marin on the other side of the draw on Tuesday with the winner facing the #1 seed, Drake, on Wednesday.  The recently installed pitch count limits will be a huge factor for every team who has earned a bid into the MCAL Championship Playoffs.

Giants Win in Nine Inning Battle Against Drake

5/09:  After losing two of their three games last week and plummeting to fourth place, the Giants were victorious today against the 2017 Round-Robin MCAL Champion-Drake Pirates.  After a rain-shortened victory earlier in the year, many felt that a true victor wasn’t decided in their first match-up as the game ended in the top of the seventh with the bases juiced for Drake, with no outs and the Pirates down by a run.  Today, chances of rain were 0%, with the sun shining and barely a breeze blew while the crowd was entertained by a cleverly engineered playlist, before the first pitch and between innings, that included just about every ‘rain’ song ever recorded from “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” to “Purple Rain”.

Today Drake and Redwood would more than make up for the lost inning from the game before, as it took nine innings to determine a winner.  Michael Benz earned the win, throwing 101 pitches in eight innings of work, giving up a run while walking none and striking out five.  “It was a phenomenally well-pitched game when we needed it”‘ Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.

Despite committing two errors in the field, the Giants defense came through, making plays when they needed to, and making big plays when they had to.  Benz’s second pitch of his outing resulted in a line drive down the third base line.  Luke Zlatunich leaped and snagged the liner for the first out of the inning.  Benz also kept Anthony Pomilia busy at short, as Pomilia had seven chances resulting in six assists in the field.  Benz, himself, made a diving play on a fisted slow roller that was hit to ‘no-man’s-land’ to his right, he bounced up and fired a strike to Nicolas Belgum at first for an out.  Josh Cohen made the ‘Play of the Day’ in left field on a rope down the line.  Cohen, in a full sprint, dove and snatched a certain triple for an out.

Genki LeClair walked to start the game and set the table for the Giants.  After a quick double-play, Nicolas Belgum was hit by a 2-1 curveball and advanced to second on a passed ball.  Anthony Pomilia plated Belgum on a single to right putting the Giants up 1-0, a lead they would hold until the third inning.  Drake scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to right.  Drake aggressively tagged from third and the throw beat the runner by ten steps but short-hopped catcher Mackie Skall and they knotted the game after the ball bounded off of his chest.

Drake starter Owen Hamilton was relieved by Nick Roth in the third.  With the score 1-1, Roth and Benz battled for the next six innings, working out of some tough spots, with Roth tallying strike outs by offsetting his plus fastball with nasty curveballs, a pitch he threw confidently throughout the game and on 3-2 counts.  Roth ended the game with eight strike outs.

In the top of the ninth, Redwood dampened the Pirates chances of winning as the Giants scored two runs against the current reigning MCAL Champions.  Gregory Block lead off the inning with a single up the middle.  Mackie Skall advanced Block and reached base on a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher that was thrown away.  Josh Cohen was intentionally walked to load the bases and put the force at the plate in order.  After a strike-out, Trevor Foehr sent Block home earning the game-winning RBI by wearing a 1-1 fastball, putting the Giants up 2-1 with one out.  Anthony Pomilia took an outside fastball for ball four, plating Cohen, giving the Giants an insurance run.

With the Giants up 3-1, Trevor Foehr came in and closed out the game while keeping the tradition alive of working his shortstop as Pomilia was responsible for two of the outs in the inning, including the final out of the game.

The Giants out-hit Drake, tallying eleven hits to Drake’s six.  Genki LeClair, Trevor Foehr, Nicolas Belgum and Gregory Block all had hits, with Aubrey Sine adding a double and Mackie Skall banging two doubles for Redwood.  Anthony Pomilia had three hits and was responsible for plating two runs, tallying two RBI’s.  Again, Benz earned the win with Foehr earning the save.

The Giants close out the regular season on the road at College of Marin against Branson on Thursday.  With a 5-12 record Branson will be playing the spoiler role as they are out of the MCAL playoffs but could send the Giants into a tie with San Marin.

The playoff seeding will not be settled until after games are concluded on Thursday.  Drake has earned the #1 seed, but the #2 will be determined as MC squares off against Tam with both teams sharing a 12-5 record.  If Redwood wins, they will share a tie with MC or Tam and the MCAL tie-breaker will determine the #3 seed.  The following determines the #3 seed according to the MCAL Tie-Break rules:  For all spots except for the last spot: 1. Head to head competition (Winning percentage) 2. Record above the tie (Winning percentage) 3. If a tie still exists between any two places. …use numbers drawn for place*

Odds are that the record above the tie will determine the #3 seed and considering Redwood is 2-0 against Drake and split (1-1) with MC and Tam, a .750 winning percentage will be hard to beat.  But no matter, they will need to win three games next week to win their third MCAL Championship in a row.

Varsity Giants Drop to Fourth Place After Home Loss to Marin Catholic

5/05:  After a their twenty-hit, seventeen-run commanding victory over Justin-Siena, the Varsity Giants lost their final home game of the regular season to Marin Catholic on Senior Day at Moody Field.  In their last six meetings the Giants were undefeated against their cross-town rival, until today.  With their victory over the Giants, Marin Catholic moved into third place with a 10-5 record, and dropped Redwood into fourth place, sending the Giants into a tie with San Marin with a 10-6 record.  Drake also took home a victory, clinching the MCAL round-robin title, squandering the hopes of a three-peat MCAL round-robin Championship for the Giants.  Redwood will need to win the MCAL playoffs in order to win their third pennant in a row.  “It was a disappointing way to close out the year at our yard, but we still have two on the road next week and a shot at the MCAL Title”, Firenzi said after the game.

Zack Tonnerre took the loss, after giving up a run in the second and was pulled after giving up two runs on a Giants error with no outs in the third.  Michael Benz would come in with the bases loaded and after a single and another Giants error, all three that were on base would score.  Another run would cross the plate, taking the game to the bottom of the third with the Giants down 6-0.  With one out, Trevor Foehr and Nicolas Belgum banged out back-to-back hits, but the inning ended after a pop-out and a fly-out.

MC added on, scoring after another Giants error.  The Giants would again commit three errors in the field.  With the score 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a double to left, lifting the hopes of the Giants faithful that they could cut into the lead, but the Giants went down in order, forcing the Wildcats defense to make plays.  The Giants would leave twelve runners on base.

Benz sent the ‘Cats down in order in the top of the fifth but gave up a run in the sixth after yielding three consecutive hits, taking the game to the bottom of the sixth with the Giants down 8-0.  Gregory Block worked a walk on eight pitches, and Jackson Barry reached base on a dropped fly ball to right.  Genki LeClair would send Block and Barry home after another Wildcat error, but the inning ended despite another hit by Trevor Foehr.  Foehr would end the day with three hits in the Giants losing effort.

Foehr came in to pitch the seventh inning and shut the Wildcats down, taking the game to the bottom of the seventh with the Giants down by six runs, 8-2.  Anthony Pomilia led off the inning and smoked a ball to center that was dropped, landing him on first.  Luke Zlatunich and Aubrey Sine walked, loading the bases with no outs.  A strike-out would follow and Jackson Barry would send Pomilia home on a sacrifice fly.  With two outs and the score 8-3, the game ended on a ground out to the cheers of the MC fans as the Wildcat players celebrated on Moody Field.

Genki LeClair, Aubrey Sine and Jackson Barry had hits for the Giants, with Nicolas Belgum collecting two hits and Trevor Foehr adding three to the Giants total.  Tonnerre and Foehr had two strike-outs on the mound, with Benz adding three.

The Giants will settle the score on the road with Drake at 4:30 on Tuesday, after their first game was ended in a rain-shortened 1-0 victory, a date that Drake has had circled on their calendar since that day.  Redwood is currently ranked #7 in the NCS DII Division while Drake is ranked #2.

Redwood has an outside chance of earning the #2 seed (which comes with a first round bye) in the MCAL play-offs.  If Redwood wins their next two games and Tam loses to San Marin and Marin Catholic,  San Marin would then need to lose their game to Justin-Siena and Marin Catholic would need to lose one of their next two games against Novato.  Simply put, Tam needs to lose their next two games, San Marin needs to lose one, and Marin Catholic needs to lose two while the Giants sweep.

Seedings will all be determined this week and game results on Tuesday will make the muddy play-off picture a bit clearer, but no matter, the Giants need a win at Drake on Tuesday.

Redwood Frosh clinch MCAL title with 4-1 win at Marin Catholic

In a game that would decide the MCAL Freshman championship Redwood came away with a hard fought 4-1 win at rival Marin Catholic on a postcard perfect day.  Each team came into the contest with only a single MCAL loss but Redwood would hand MC their second MCAL loss, both at the hands of the Giants.

Redwood pitchers give up an uncharacteristic ten walks in the game and so a team effort was required to secure the win and that is just what the Giants delivered. Crisp defense was key as Redwood played error free baseball and made every play they needed to make to keep MC at bay.

Redwood would score in the first inning as they have done in ten of the thirteen MCAL games this year.  With one down, Jesse Gassman singled to left bringing up Jonathan Yu.  With the count 0-2, Yu drove a single to center with Gassman advancing to third.  Then with two outs, Gassman alertly broke for the plate on a wild pitch just beating the throw to the plate.  MC would come back in their half of the first and tie the score at 1-1.

The score stayed 1-1 until the top of the third when Matt Birchenough led off with a sharp groundball single to left.  He would then advance to second on a balk by the MC pitcher.  Jesse Gassman then grounded out but Birchenough advanced to third on the play which would prove key as the next hitter, Jonathan Yu hit a fly ball which was caught in medium deep right field.  Birchenough tagged up and headed for home just sliding under the tag after a strong throw from right that was on target.  2-1 Redwood.

In the top of the fourth the Giants were looking to add to their lead.  With one away, Alex Hagen hit a first pitch line drive single to the gap in left center.  Jack Van Hooser then executed on a hit and run by driving the ball behind the runner and though he was out on the play, Hagen ended up at third.  Jackson Reed was up next and with a count of 3-1 he delivered a clutch line drive single to left scoring Hagen.  Lucas Roy then took the first pitch he saw to the gap in left center for a solid double with Reed scoring all the way from first and giving Redwood a 4-1 lead.

Meanwhile the Redwood pitchers were doing their part to keep MC off the scoreboard.  Nick Welch started and went the first two innings striking out two. Jesse Gassman came in and went four innings striking out three.

But then in the bottom of the seventh Gassman walked the first batter and Birchenough came on.  Birchenough struck out the first batter he faced but walked the next two. So now the bases were loaded with one out and Redwood up by three.  Matthew Smallbach got the call and came into the game to face the heart of the order for MC.  Smallbach would prove up to the task in a big way as he got the number three hitter on a popup to shortstop and then retired the clean up hitter on a first pitch soft grounder to first for the ballgame and the save.

Pitching has led the way in many of the Redwood wins this year and even with the ten walks it was solid again as the four pitchers combined held a strong MC team to just one run on three hits.  But it must have given the staff confidence to know the defense behind them was more than up to the task. The timely hitting also provided a big boost as six of Redwood’s seven hits were key to scoring runs.

The win brings Redwood’s overall record to 18-4 including the last 12 in a row.  The team has not lost since March 27th.  The Giants MCAL mark is now 12-1 with one game remaining.  The combined scores in MCAL are Redwood 102 and Opponents 11. Drake visits Redwood next Wednesday (3/10) and that will be your last chance to watch this team that seems to be reaching another peak with each game.

JV Sweep, Clinch MCAL Championship!

The Giants played three games in five days, travelled to Napa, and came home to face cross-town rival, Marin Catholic, to secure the 2017 MCAL Pennant for Redwood High School by beating Tamalpais, Justin-Siena and MC.

In Napa, the boys rolled on offense, combining for twelve hits, scoring ten runs in a 10-4 victory. Offensively, Jack Morken hit two triples and a double, scored three runs and knocked in two RBI’s for the Giants. Jake Nordstrom had two hits, two RBI’s and a run. Sam Warren had two hits and two RBI’s. Ryan Jessen contributed two hits and an RBI. Nate Charles, Nick Cook and Cole Zesiger added to the hit parade with one hit each. Defensively, against the Padres, Redwood’s infield was the real deal, preventing runs with outstanding play from Robbie Wilson, Zack Gordon, Haiden Jones, Nick Cook and Ryan Jessen. Maxim Kawashima, Jackson Bender and Jeremy Sellier pitched for the Giants, giving up just six hits. But the victory in Napa was just the second to last stop before the boys could secure the MCAL Championship. They had to face Marin Catholic on their home turf.

Friday night, Cinco De Mayo, Redwood squared off against the Wildcats for what essentially was the league championship. The Big Game is always tense, and this contest would not disappoint the large crowd. In the first, Jacob Klionsky singled to center. Jake Nordstrom would reach first base on catcher’s interference. Sam Warren connected with a single to left, loading the bases. Jack Morken drove the ball to third base, giving the defender the choice, and preventing the run. Jack Hake then stepped up and drove the ball to left, scoring Nordstrom and Warren (2-0, Redwood). With Morken at second, Nick Cook drove the ball to center, advancing Morken to third and Hake to second. Next, centerfielder, Jarod Robinow, laid down a bunt, scoring Morken from third to end the inning (3-0, Redwood).

MC would respond. A nice double play from Gordon to Cook to Morken gave the Giants some confidence. A three-run homerun took it away, notching the contest at three a-piece.

With the game tied, head coach, Billy Jack Ryan, made his move and handed the ball to sophomore Ace-Kyle Felder. In the end, that is all it would take. Felder was brilliant, going 6.2 innings, striking out 12 batters, conceding only three hits and one run. Felder helped his cause with two hits of his own. The Giants backed him up in the third inning, scoring three runs off hits from Jack Morken, Jarod Robinow and Robbie Wilson-who drove in two runs with a single to center (6-3, Redwood, after three).

MC picked up a run in the fifth inning, keeping the contest close at 6-4 with two innings to play. Nonetheless, Felder would clamp down on his opponents, keeping the boys in blue off the board. The Giants speedy center fielder, Jarod Robinow, would pad Redwood’s lead in the seventh by stealing home. With a three run lead, coach Ryan left the ball in Felder’s dominant hand, striking out the final batter looking. Final Score: 7-4, Giants.

With a current 2017 season record of 20 and 2, Redwood has earned and proven that they are the team to beat in the Bay Area, if not the State. With wins over Serra, Bishop O’Dowd, Casa Grande and Marin Catholic (twice), they are the very best at the JV level. The Giants conclude their season next Tuesday, May 9th, versus Drake High School. It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I sign off giving you the scoop on 2017’s MCAL Baseball Champions-The Giants!

Here’s a link to all of the pictures:  http://www.jordanwarren.photography/p191648203

Redwood Alumni Represent Across the Nation

Four recent Redwood graduates are making their mark across the Nation and are representing their school, their community and the Redwood Baseball Family in a positive way.

Tyler Peck graduated in 2015 and was the ace of the staff and earned Redwood’s NCS victory against Livermore.  Peck led the league in victories that year with thirteen, had a no hitter and was  #3 in the league in strike-outs. He was SF Chronicle North Bay Player of Year, was First team All-State in Cal High Sports and First Team MCAL.  Peck now pitches at Chapman College and as a Sophomore, has started nine games, with fourteen appearances, with two wins and a loss.  In forty-two innings of work, Peck has struck out thirty-six

Adam HussainAdam Hussain graduated in 2015 and had the game winning hit in the NCS victory against Livermore but might be most remembered for the game saving, diving catch he made in that game. Adam is now playing his freshman year at College of Marin, after red-shirting last year.  Hussain has played in 29 games and boasts a .308 average with three homers.   He also has a 1.000 fielding percentage on 36 chances in the field.

Zach Cohen Zach Cohen graduated in 2016 and was a four-year varsity player at Redwood.  In his career at Redwood, Zach earned two MCAL titles and an NCS title.  Zach was also a MCAL All-Leaguer.  Zach now pitches at New York University and as a freshman, has appeared in twelve games with two starts.  He has a 2-1 record with nine punch-outs and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

 

Zachary KopsteinZack Kopstein graduated in 2016 and earned two MCAL titles and an NCS title at Redwood.  In 2016, Kopstein ranked #1 in the MCAL with nine wins and #4 in the league in strike-outs and was the MCAL Pitcher of the Year.  As of 4/28/17, Kopstein ranks #5 nationally among NCAA D3 pitchers in WHIP (.81).  Zack’s ERA is 1.91 and is 2-0 on the mound over 28.1 innings along with 2 saves.  He also boasts a 1.000 fielding percentage. 

Varsity Breaks Out With 20 Hits in Shut Out of Justin-Siena

5/4:  The Giants broke out of their three-game slump in a commanding way with a 17-0 victory over Justin-Siena today at Moody Field. Josh Cohen, Blake Cusick and Noah Arrick combined for the shut out on the mound for the Giants, with Cusick earning the win, pitching 5 2/3 innings while giving up just four hits, striking out five and walking none.  Noah Arrick closed out the seventh, sealing the victory for Redwood.

The Giants scored a run in the first, two in the second, and blew the game open with nine runs in the third.  Redwood would score two more in the fourth and drop another crooked number, scoring three in the fifth.  Despite getting two runners on, the sixth inning would be the only inning the Giants wouldn’t score.    In the six innings of offense, Redwood would amass twenty hits, score seventeen runs and strike out only two times.  Redwood’s defense stepped up, committing just one error in the field.  “We needed this today” Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game, “We were good on the mound, Cusick came out and did a hell of a job.  The bottom line is that we haven’t been playing up to our potential, hopefully today is a sign of things to come.”  Blake Cusick earned his second win of the year and has given up just one earned run in his last ten and a third innings of work.

Luke Zlatunich had one hit on the board, but reached base two other

times on hard hit balls that could have been scored as hits, and scored two Giants runs.  Riley Marsh also had a hit, breaking out on a base hit up the middle.  Mackie Skall also had a single while adding another RBI on a sacrifice fly.  Skall completed his 1-1-1-1 day by scoring.  Gregory Block came in to relieve Skall behind the plate, but it was at the plate that Block made the difference with a single and a double, scoring twice while knocking in a run.  Drew Jacks got the start in the outfield and banged out two hits, scoring twice, while knocking in three runs.   Genki LeClair and Trevor Foehr both had two hits each with Foehr scoring twice while knocking in two runs.  Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia and Aubrey Sine combined for nine hits, each collecting three.  Sine knocked in one, Belgum two, with Pomilia plating three.  Aubrey Sine has five hits in the last two games.

The Giants are now tied for second place (10-5) with Tam and will host their cross-town rival, Marin Catholic, on Friday at 4:30 at Moody Field.  Marin Catholic has a 9-5 record and will likely start their ace, Jack Harris on the mound.  Ironically, Harris is a 2016 transfer to MC from Tam.  Oddly, the Wildcats still have a rain-out game to make up with Novato, despite the sunny weather we have had in the last two weeks.  Drake still stands atop the MCAL Conference after their win today, they boast a 13-2 record with three games to play.  With just one more win, Drake will win the round-robin and lock down the #1 seed for the MCAL play-offs.  The Giants turn around and play Drake on Tuesday.  Friday’s MC vs. Redwood game looms large, as the winner will improve their chances of  earning the #2 seed.

JV Outlast Tam in Heated Contest

The Giants endured a back and forth contest to stay on target for a 2017 Pennant, beating the Hawks 11-8 on Tuesday night. With the first heat wave of the year affecting the game, Kyle Felder once again stepped on to the hill for Redwood, going three strong innings, striking out five batters and conceding just two hits. Tam, however, would score first with a two run first inning. The Giants responded with two runs of their own. Sam Warren reached second base on an error in center field. Jake Nordstrom then doubled to left, scoring Warren (1-2, Tam). Robbie Wilson followed up with a single to center, scoring Nordstrom (2-2 after one).

In the third inning, Nordstrom would lead off with a triple. Robbie Wilson singled, scoring Nordstrom (3-2, Giants). In the fourth, Zack Gordon drew a walk and would steal second. Sam Warren put the ball in play to advance Gordon to third. Jake Nordstrom (3 Hits, 3 Runs & 3 RBI’s on the day) then connected with another hard hit ball up the middle, scoring Gordon (4-2). Nordstrom would steal his way to second and reach third after Tam defenders let a Robbie Wilson pop-up fall to the ground. Nordstrom would eventually score on a wild pitch (5-2, Redwood). Before the inning was over, the Giant’s first base coach would engage in a difference of opinion with the infield umpire, earning him an early departure from the playing field and some discord going forward. The calls would suggest some retribution against Redwood in the later innings.

Tamalpais added five runs on one hit in the top of the fifth inning to retake the lead 7-5. The Giants quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning. Eric Simonson hit a lead-off single. Jacob Klionsky followed up with another hard hit single to left. Haiden Jones laid down a nice bunt and the pitcher elected to get the lead runner. Simonson appeared to have safely landed at third by a clear margin but was called out for his effort nevertheless. Zack Gordon then drew a walk to load the bases. Sam Warren was hit by a pitch, scoring Klionsky. Jake Nordstrom was walked, scoring Haiden Jones. Robbie Wilson was hit by a pitch, scoring Gordon (8-7, Redwood).

In the sixth, Tam would tie the game again and, but for a diving stop by shortstop, Zack Gordon, would have retaken the lead. Both Gordon and Wilson would save more runs with some great fielding and throwing the go ahead runs out at home plate. In the bottom half, Eric Simonson connected with his second hit of the day to lead things off for the Giants. Jacob Klionsky followed in kind, giving Redwood runners at first and second with no outs. Both runners would steal, putting the Giants back in the driver’s seat. Jackson Bender was given a free walk to first to load the bases. Zack Gordon then laid down a perfect bunt, scoring Simonson and landing safely at first (9-8). Klionsky would round third with a full head of steam, landing in a pickle. Before Klionsky was run down, Bender advanced to third and Gordon landed on second base. Sam Warren then hit a fly ball to left and reached base on an error, scoring Bender and Gordon (11-8, Redwood).

Jackson Bender pitched for the save in the top of the seventh. Bender and first baseman, Jack Morken, would team up to secure the first out after Morken snapped up a short hopping grounder across his body and tossed the ball from his glove to the hard charging Bender. The two would connect again after Jackson picked off the runner he previously beaned. With two outs, Zack Gordon would scoop up a grounder and end the contest with the final out at first base. Final Score: 11-8, Giants.

Here’s the link to all the photos:  http://www.jordanwarren.photography/p588552851

Varsity Giants Continue Slide

5/2:  The Giants continued their tailspin, losing on the road in a close battle with the Red-Tailed Hawks.  With injuries and battle fatigue plaguing the Giants roster, Coach Firenzi and his coaching staff are filling holes, trying new ideas and losing sleep trying to find the magic formula that will get them back to their winning ways.  Of their original 22-man roster, nine players have been taken down to injury or illness, causing them to sit out at least a game.  Mononucleosis, a bleeding ulcer, near-concussion, arm injuries (that have spurned MRIs for two separate shoulders and two separate elbows), and a torn up knee-these are just a few of the injuries that have impacted the Varsity squad this year.  Not sure if you noticed, but captain Henry Zeisler (presently ranked #2 in the MCAL with a .423 batting average) hasn’t played since March 21.  Starting pitcher Oliver Pearson (presently ranked #4 in the MCAL with four wins) hasn’t pitched since April 4.  Looking back to their MCAL opener on March 14, only four players who started in the loss against San Marin, started today.

Another void that you won’t see in any stat sheet is that Assistant Coach Joel Russo has departed after the win against Novato.  Russo has been a pillar in Firenzi’s coaching staff, coaching first base while working with the the infield and defensive alignments.  Russo was a stand-out player for Firenzi when he coached at Marin Catholic.  After a professional baseball journey in Italy, he was one of the first to get the call from Firenzi after he was named Head Coach at Redwood.  Russo departed to attend the Firefighters Academy, to follow in the footsteps of his father who was a fireman in San Francisco.  Since Russo’s departure, Redwood has lost their last three games, committing nine errors in the field.

One of the four players who started in the opener against San Marin is Nicolas Belgum.  Belgum is a returning starter and moved to first base from the outfield to fill the void left by Zack Kopstien who graduated and is pitching for MIT this year.  With a pitching staff needing rest, Belgum was called on chew up some innings on the mound as he got the start today.  After the Giants went down in the top of the first, Tam’s lead-off batter launched the second pitch Belgum threw over the left field wall.  After beaning the next batter, catcher Mackie Skall recorded the first out by throwing him out on an attempted steal.  Belgum walked the next two batters but was able to work out of the inning with the Giants down 1-0.

Luke Zlatunich doubled to lead off the second, but the top half of inning ended with the tying run in scoring position.  Tam kept the pressure on, scoring two more runs in the bottom of the frame taking the game to the top of the third with the Giants down 3-0.

Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a single to left.  Mackie Skall followed with a single up the middle and with two runners on, Josh Cohen dropped a drag bunt down the third baseline and beat the throw to load the bases.  Jackson Barry scored Sine from third on a ground-out to the right side, cutting into the Hawks lead.  Nicolas Belgum then helped his own cause by roping a 3-1 fastball to left, plating Skall.  Anthony Pomilia ripped the first pitch he saw up the middle, tying the score 3-3.  The Giants threat was stalled on a 6-4-3 double play.  After a lead-off single, the Giants defense stepped up with a double-play of their own.  Tam attempted a hit-and-run, Trevor Foehr nabbed a sinking liner to right and doubled off the runner at first when he threw a dart to Josh Katz.  Belgum would induce another fly out to Foehr to end the inning with the score tied 3-3.

After having a hand in all three outs in the bottom of the third, Trevor Foehr led off the top of the fourth with a drag bunt single, but was quickly erased on an attempted steal.  Josh Katz then walked and Aubrey Sine collected his second hit of the day, tomahawking a high fastball down the third baseline.  Tam would end the inning on another double-play.  After walking the first batter and giving up a hit to the next, Belgum was lifted for Trevor Foehr, sending Drew Jacks to right as Belgum went back to familiar ground at first.  A fielder’s choice would send in Tam’s fourth run of the game and after a ground-out to Anthony Pomilia, Foehr struck out the next batter to end the inning with Tam leading 4-3.

The Giants went down quietly in the top of the fifth and Tam scored an insurance run in the bottom half on a single, an error and another fielder’s choice taking the game to the top of the sixth with the score 5-3 in favor of the Red-Tailed Hawks.

After the Giants went down 1-2-3, Foehr sent the Hawks down in the bottom of the sixth despite giving up a walk and a hit.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Dane Goodman walked but the game ended after pinch-hitter Riley Marsh squared up a 2-2 fastball that landed in the glove of the centerfielder.

Again the Giants would out-hit their opponent 8-7, but would tally two errors in the field while Tam had none.  Belgum suffered the loss, giving up four runs while giving up five hits.  Josh Cohen, Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia, Luke Zlatunich, Mackie Skall and Trevor Foehr all had hits with Aubrey Sine breaking out with two hits of his own.

Firenzi and the coaching staff will go back to the drawing board to find the starting line-up that will get the Giants back to their winning ways as they face Justin-Siena at home on Thursday and turn around to play Marin Catholic at home on Friday.  Both games are at 4:30.  Redwood remains in second place behind Drake, but are in a log-jam as they are tied with several teams.  Optimists say that Redwood will earn the second seed for the MCAL play-offs.  Super-optimists say that Redwood can still win the round robin as with four games left, they are three games behind Drake who they play next Tuesday.  Pessimists say that the Giants won’t make the play-offs, with Branson or Terra Linda somehow winning a tie-breaker.  The next four games will settle the dispute.