Redwood JV shuts down San Marin on Engstrom’s gem

Returning to the mound on just two days’ rest, pitcher Cole Engstrom tossed a three-hit shutout to lead the Redwood JV Baseball Giants to a 7-0 win over the San Marin Mustangs at Moody Field, opening MCAL play for the 2022 season.  Redwood, despite being no-hit through five innings, exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away.

The Mustangs threatened in the top of the first, as Engstrom recorded two quick outs, then drilled center fielder Noah Ratto in the shin. Ratto promptly stole second, advancing to third on left fielder Ryan Burke’s single to left.  With runners on first and third, Mustang first baseman Teddy Krajeski powered a ball deep into the gap in right center, but speedy Giants center fielder Gavin Soper raced over for the grab, bridling Mustang momentum and retiring the side.

Redwood responded in the bottom of the first, as second baseman Max Paul slapped what looked to be a single under the glove of Mustang shortstop Jake Simpson, who was called for an error on the play. The call was significant, as Mustang starting pitcher Ryan Jensen and reliever Lars Rau went on to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Paul stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Giants third baseman Harrison Lapic followed by tapping a grounder to third, reaching base and scoring Paul, as Krajeski mishandled the throw at first. That was to be the only run of the game through five innings, as both teams settled in for what looked to be a classic pitchers’ duel.

Redwood’s defense was solid throughout the game, with only one error on the day. In the top of the fourth, Paul gloved Krajeski’s sharp grounder up the middle, narrowly missing him at first in what would have been a spectacular play. Simpson followed with a grounder to Giants shortstop Sam Sumski, who shoveled the ball to Paul to start a 6-4-3 double play. As Krajeski barreled into second, Paul’s wild throw to first sailed to the fence, but the umpire upheld the double play, calling Krajeski for interference.

With the score still 1-0, Redwood finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Sumski led things off by taking a nasty Rau fastball in the ribs, advancing to second on Lapic’s emphatic single to left – the Giants’ first hit of the game. Catcher Ryan Ip followed with a walk, loading the bases with no outs, and bringing Soper to the plate.

Soper, who had been mired in a bit of a slump, proceeded to smash the ball over Ratto’s head in center field. Ratto, racing back, nearly came up with a Willie Mays-style circus catch, forcing the runners to tag, and holding Soper to a very long single.

But the seal had been broken, as Sumski scored on the play, giving the Giants a much-needed insurance run.

With the bases still loaded and no outs, Engstrom rapped a grounder to Simpson, who airmailed his throw to the plate, scoring Lapic, and leaving the bases loaded yet again. A rattled Simpson chose to go to first with Giants’ left fielder Wyatt Turkington’s subsequent grounder, scoring Ip to bring the score to 4-0.

With runners on second and third, Redwood first baseman Jordan Kimball lined a pitch into right center for the Giants’ third and final hit of the game, scoring two and advancing to second on the Mustangs’ wild throw home. Kimball then tagged and went to third on Giants’ right fielder Drew Song’s fly ball to center, scoring on a wild pitch. Having been no-hit for most of the day, the Giants found themselves coming out of the inning up 7-0.

In the top of the seventh, with San Marin down to their last at-bat, Paul and Sumski turned a handsome double play, aided by Kimball’s deft scoop of Sumski’s throw.  Engstrom, not showing any signs of fatigue, then got Mustang J. Fortune on a grounder to Paul to close out the game.

Engstrom finished his strong outing with eight strikeouts on the day, allowing just three hits and one walk. The Giants also had only three hits, but took advantage of three Mustang errors as they fashioned their seven runs. Now 4-3 on the year (1-0 in MCAL play), Redwood will get another crack at Mustang pitching on Friday, as they travel to Novato in the rubber match of this home-away series. The Giants then square off next week against the Trojans of Terra Linda.

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