The Redwood JV Baseball Giants traveled to Santa Rosa on a beautiful Saturday morning, and handed their hosts the Cardinal Newman Cardinals a 5-2 win, with four of those Cardinal runs unearned.
Resting several starters following a hard-fought victory over Marin Catholic the previous afternoon, the Giants put forth some new looks, with mixed results.
Julian Kempler drew the starting assignment for Redwood, seeing his first pitching action of the year, and allowed only four hits over three and two-thirds innings, but struggled with his control throughout, issuing eight walks and hitting three batters, while tossing two wild pitches.
Meanwhile, starting Cardinal pitcher Tanner Bradley was on a tear, striking out nine Giants and walking none over four innings, while limiting Redwood to three hits and no runs.
Third baseman Quinn Miller stepped up for the Giants on the day, delivering three hits and an RBI, as well as several sparkling defensive plays at the hot corner.
The tone for Saturday’s contest was set from the start, with the visiting Giants sandwiching a Miller single between two strikeouts, coming up empty when Cardinal third baseman Anthony Gonzalez made a fine play on Sam Sumski’s grounder down the line, nipping Sumski at first with a long throw.
In the Cardinal half of the frame, Kempler rung up two quick outs. Leadoff hitter Bradley crushed Kempler’s first pitch right at Miller, who didn’t even move his feet to corral the rocket. But four walks and a wild pitch later, it was a blessing to escape the inning just one run down, as Jack Corvi tracked down Cardinal right fielder Jack Pezzollo’s bases-loaded fly ball to center.
In the bottom of the second, Miller provided the fans with a memorable sequence to save another run or more. With runners on first and second and one out, Cardinal shortstop Carson Meyer ripped a ball down the third base line. Miller stepped across his body and dived for the ball, snagging it just inside the line, before hopping up to step on third for the force.
Cardinal second baseman Jacob Morena followed with a looping popup down the left field line, sending Miller back into foul territory for a racing, backhanded grab to retire the side. Miller topped it off the next inning with a single roped just over the head of his counterpart Gonzalez, leading one to wonder if Miller would have made that same play in Gonzalez’s shoes.
The Cardinals added three runs in their half of the third, on three hits, two walks and a hit batsman, leaving the bases loaded again as Giants second baseman Elakai Anela scooped up a grounder from his Cardinal counterpart Jacob Morena, tossing to first for out number three. Anela handled several chances over the course of the game, in his first start of the year.
With the score 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Giants sent outfielder Drew Song to the mound for his first action of the year. Song, featuring an artistic mid-windup toe point, proved surprisingly effective, holding the Cardinals hitless and fanning three over the final two innings.
Meanwhile, the Giants were finally able to break through against Cardinal pitching, as Tanner gave way on the hill to southpaw Pezzolli. In the sixth, Sumski fought off a pitch in on his wrists for a flare to right field, following up Miller’s third hit of the game, and putting runners on first and second with one out.
But it wasn’t until the seventh inning that Redwood made it onto the board. In the feel-good story of the day, erstwhile Giants’ scorekeeper Quinn Newlin led off the inning, striding to the plate for his first at-bat in several years against live pitching – allegedly since third grade! And after whiffing on Pezzolli’s first two offerings, lo and behold, Newlin spanked a high fastball into the gap in right center for a double – the Giants’ only extra-base hit of the game.
Kempler, now having moved over to first base, followed with a walk, putting runners on first and second with no out, and bringing Tony Metaxas, another new face, to the plate.
Metaxas ripped the first pitch he saw into left field, just over the outstretched glove of Meyer, scoring Newlin, and bringing Kempler to third. Miller, trying for his fourth hit of the game, had to settle for an RBI grounder to Meyer at short, finishing the scoring for the Giants.
Following an outstanding day for Redwood baseball players named Quinn, Newlin now shares the team lead in batting average with Metaxas, both with a perfect 1.000.
Redwood, now 11-5 (7-1 MCAL), will now rest up until facing these same Cardinals again at home on Wednesday, before hosting the Albany Cougars in yet another non-league contest on Thursday.