5/25: A twenty win season is a successful season by any measure in high school baseball. For the Varsity Giants, a twenty win season this year would lock down 400 victories for their head coach. Redwood would need to win today vs. Concord in the first round of the NCS DII playoffs to reach twenty for the season and 400 for Head Coach Mike Firenzi. “At least we don’t need to wait until next year to see if it will happen”, Firenzi said after the Giants defeated the Concord Minutemen 4-2, on a sunny day at Moody Field.
Starting pitcher Zach Cohen welcomed the Minutemen to Moody Field by sending their lead-off hitter to the bench on a blazing 2-2 fastball on the outside corner for a called strike three. After Parker Bartlett took care of the second out of the inning on a grounder to his left, Concord tried to mount a two-out rally as their next hitter was awarded first base on a swing that missed the ball but made solid contact with catcher Trevor Foehr’s glove. It was an unusual swing that sent Foehr’s catcher’s mitt flying and left Foehr shaking his hand in pain. Cohen capped the inning with another strike-out.
Redwood was sent down in order in the bottom of the first, second and third innings, setting up a perfect game for the Concord pitcher through three innings. Cohen answered, holding the Minutemen scoreless through four innings.
The Giants scored in the bottom of the fourth after Nicolas Belgum lead off the inning with a single, stole second and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Henry Zeisler. Erik Doctor sent Belgum home with a RBI single to right taking Redwood to the top of the fifth leading 1-0.
Concord scored two runs in the top of the inning after a one-out single was followed by a four pitch walk and then the second catcher’s interference call (from the same batter as before) loaded the bases. With two-outs and the bases loaded, a 1-0 fastball was driven to center, scoring two and putting the Minutemen up 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth.
Trevor Foehr reached base on a swinging strike three that got by the catcher and the hustling Foehr was called safe at first after the throw from the Concord backstop sailed over the first baseman’s head. Trevor stole second and with two outs, Firenzi broke all of the conventional rules of baseball as he dropped the steal sign on a 0-2 count to Nic Gillies. Firenzi called it right, as the 0-2 breaking ball was out of the zone and the catcher’s throw to third sailed down the third baseline, scoring Foehr and tying the score 2-2.
Josh Cohen came in with his brothers’ pitch count mounting, and shut down Concord in the top of the sixth. Ashton Finegold led off the Giants sixth with a drag bunt-single down the third baseline. Nicolas Belgum logged his second hit on the day and scored Finegold, putting the Giants up 3-2. Belgum advanced to third on an error, setting the table for Henry Zeisler. Zeisler plated Belgum on a suicide squeeze and both Belgum and Zeisler were greeted with high-fives from their teammates after they hustled to the Giants dugout.
Redwood Ace Zach Kopstein came in to close out the top of the seventh and after giving up a lead-off single he sent the Minutemen down 1-2-3 for his first save of the season, notching the Giants twentieth win and Firenzi’s 400th career victory.
Josh Cohen earned the win for the Giants. Nicolas Belgum had two hits, Erik Doctor, Nic Gillies and Ashton Finegold also added hits to the Redwood total.
The win advances the Giants to a quarter-final match-up against the Livermore Cowboys who drew a #7 seed in the NCS tournament. Redwood faced off against Livermore in the NCS Championship last year. The Cowboys hope to avenge their 11-inning NCS Championship game loss and will likely send the crafty left-hander, Clayton Westrope to the mound. If they start Westrope, it will be the third left-handed pitcher the Giants have faced in a row. Redwood will answer with their ace, Zach Kopstein who will be challenged to hold the Cowboys bats at bay, as they have tallied fourteen home runs on the season.
“I’d love for this team to play in the semi’s, we’ve worked hard and we are ready. But, we have a tough task ahead of us, I expect Livermore to come out swinging”, Firenzi said. When asked about how he felt about victory 400, Firenzi said “It takes good players and a good coaching staff to get there. I have been fortunate to have had both. I’ve had the honor of having (assistant coach) Tim Grayson there for about half of those wins. But right now, all I care about is getting the next one and I really don’t want to wait a year to get it.”
The winner of the game set for Moody Field on Friday at 4pm will face of in the semi-finals against the winner of the Marin Catholic vs. Montgomery game.