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.