The goal for anyone who plays competitive sports is to win the final game of the season. On a warm day on February 9, 2015, the 26 high school baseball programs who comprise the North Coast Section Division II bracket, set out with that common goal, “Win the NCS Championship” and all had a chance to get there. Today, only 2 teams remain as the Redwood Giants and the Livermore Cowboys each won their semi-final game to earn a chance to win the last game of the year. For 24 other NCS DII teams, their season is over. Livermore defeated Marin Catholic 4-0 to earn their shot at the title while Redwood defeated Pinole Valley 7-2 to set up the NCS Championship game Friday at 7pm at Albert Park.
However, getting there certainly wasn’t easy as the Giants got off to a shaky start against the Pinole Spartans Tuesday at Moody Field. Tyler Peck was touched for 2 runs in the top of the 2nd and the score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the 4th. Peck settled in and held the Spartans scoreless for the rest of the game. “In the beginning of the game I was leaving the ball up, but once I got it down my teammates and the defense picked me up like they have all season.” Peck told a Prep2Prep reporter after the game. Parker Laret led off the 4th inning with a scorching grounder down the 3rd baseline for a single. Laret stole 2nd and after a few Spartan errors, Laret scored. Zach Kopstein hit a clutch, 2 out single to ‘No Man’s Land’ in right scoring Eric Doctor and tying the score 2-2. Aaron Dorfler later singled to left, plating Danny Avins and putting the Giants up 3-2.
The game broke wide open in the bottom of the 5th when the Giants scored 4 runs. Devon Pence led off the inning with a single and Riley Overend followed suit, singling to left and putting runners on 1st and 2nd for the hot hitting Parker Laret. Laret then smoked a 0-1 pitch over the center fielder’s head, scoring Pence. Aubrey Sine followed with a deep sacrifice fly, putting the Giants up 5-2. Parker would end the day 2-3 with a double, 2 runs scored and a RBI. Adam Hussain then dropped a perfect bunt, scoring Laret and advanced to 2nd on a wayward throw.
Zach Cohen then capped the inning with a grounder up the middle scoring Nick Gillies, putting the Giants up 7-2. Tyler Peck shut the Spartans for the next 2 innings, counting on his defense to get 4 of the last 6 outs, and it was most fitting that the final out of the game came on a Tyler Peck strike out, his 4th of the game and 78th of the season. Peck now holds an impressive 12-1 record with a .92 ERA. The Giants bashed 12 hits with Riley Overend, Devon Pence, Parker Laret, Zach Kopstein, and Eric Doctor contributing 2 hits apiece while Aubrey Sine and Aaron Dorfler each added a hit.
Redwood now holds a 26-3 season record, with all 3 losses by only 1 run in Firenzi’s inaugural year as Head Coach. “Do you want to know one of the things I’m most proud of about this team? We set a goal at the beginning of the year to never get beat at our yard (home), and we were undefeated here.” Redwood ended the season earning 15 of their 26 wins at home. It should also be noted that they gave up a home game to play Novato under the lights at Albert Park, a game they also won. They now take their home field advantage to Albert Park to face Livermore who have a 17-10 record and came in as the #10 seed. However, they placed 3rd in the very tough EBAL behind De La Salle and Monte Vista, both Division 1 powerhouses. De La Salle plays against College Park (who defeated Monte Vista in the semi-final game) for the NCS Division 1 Championship.
While 24 NCS DII teams look on, Redwood is now faced with the tall task of defeating the Livermore Cowboys at 7pm Friday at Albert Park, familiar grounds for the Giants where they hope to match the celebration they experienced less than 2 weeks prior when they won the MCAL Championship in dramatic walk-off fashion. It’s the first opportunity Redwood has had since 1997 to win a NCS title. Redwood also won in ’77, ’78 and ’81. Be sure to show up early as we expect a capacity partisan crowd to support the Giants in their quest to win the final game of the season and earn their 5th NCS Championship.