4/25/23:  The Redwood Varsity Baseball Giants took a step in the right direction Tuesday, besting a competitive Novato Hornet team behind a complete game shutout by starting pitcher Rory Minty.  Against a lineup boasting four of the top six hitters in the MCAL by batting average, Minty’s line of seven strikeouts against six hits and zero walks looked all the more impressive.
The Hornets sent up starting pitcher Jacob Rabb, who came into the game second only to Minty in the MCAL in wins (7-1 Rabb vs 8-1 Minty).  Coming off of a rough hitting patch – a major factor in dropping four of their previous five games – the Giants got on the board early against Rabb, then took advantage of their eight hits on the day to put the game out of reach.
The game started with some sting from the Hornets, as Catcher Evan Black led off with a sizzling grounder in the hole. Third baseman Rex Solle dove to his left for a highlight-reel snag, but his throw across to first baseman Ben Resnick was high enough to pull Resnick off the bag for the split-second that Black was crossing. The fact that there even was a play at first was a credit to Solle.
Next up, third baseman Julian Oliver wedged a soft liner buzzing with backspin just in front of second base, where it bit the ground and spun under the glove of charging shortstop Danil Wells, then proceeded to spin under the glove of second baseman Theo Trono for good measure. There were now runners on first and second with no outs. Were the Giants destined to be snake-bit throughout this game?
Thankfully, the answer was ‘no,’ as Minty got Hornet shortstop Andy Gates to line out to center fielder Gavin Soper, before retiring cleanup hitter and first baseman JP Harmon on a soft grounder to short. Wells combined with Trono to put the backspin debacle behind them and turn a solid 6-4-3 double play to end the inning; the Hornets hardly threatened after that.
Giants left fielder Sam Gersch led off the bottom of the 1st by topping Rabb’s first pitch slowly towards second baseman Griffin Vorhaus, then beating out Vorhaus’s rushed throw. Trono followed with a swinging sacrifice bunt to Harmon, moving Gersch to second.
Solle then lined a single to left, and rounded first in a big way, drawing a pickoff throw across from Oliver to Harmon, who wheeled to Vorhaus at second, just nabbing Solle for the second out. Head Coach Mike Firenzi had held Gersch at third, but sent him home on the play to second, with Gersch scoring just ahead of Vorhaus’s subsequent throw to the plate. Sure, Solle had been picked, but the Giants were on the board early for a change!
In the top of the 4th, Harmon found Minty for a rocket to right, over the head of Giants right fielder Jack Moseley. Turned around by the blistering ball, Moseley’s swiveled to try and track it, then lurched as his knee buckled underneath him. Staggering ahead, Moseley managed to thrust up his arm and get a glove on the ball, although he couldn’t squeeze it home. The adventurous sequence resulted in a double for Harmon, and thankfully Moseley was uninjured.
Harmon continued to third on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Nathan Dito, but that’s as far as he got, as Minty bore down for two clutch strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The Giants added some insurance runs in the bottom of the 4th by stringing together some hits – a welcome sight for Giants fans.  Solle started things off with a scorching ball over the bag at third for a double, then moved to third on a bunt single by catcher Rory Coughlan back to Rabb.
In a surprise move, Harmon (a freshman), who had wandered in for the bunt, and so was standing a good 10’ in front of the bag, intercepted Rabb’s throw to first (a throw which could have possibly retired Coughlan, since Vorhaus was covering on the play). It wasn’t clear if Harmon wasn’t aware of Vorhaus covering, or perhaps thought he might be able to pick Solle off of third. In any case, Harmon just stood there with the ball, before handing it back to Rabb.
Minty, next up, watched as Coughlan stole second on Rabb’s first pitch. Rabb, evidently nonplussed by recent events, responded by unleashing a wild pitch, scoring Solle and sending Coughlan to third. Minty then added to Rabb’s frustration with a Baltimore chop over the head of Vorhaus, scoring Coughlan, and making it 3-0 Giants.
Redwood squandered further opportunity in the inning, however, as Jack Corvi, pinch-running for Minty, was picked off on a close call at first. A Soper walk and a second Baltimore chop  – this time from Resnick over shortstop Gates – would have scored Corvi, but at 3-0, Redwood fans counted their blessings.
The Giants added another run in the 6th, as Coughlan led things off with a 4-pitch walk. Wyatt Turkington, running for Coughlan, proceeded to steal second, advancing to third on a wild pitch. Minty followed with a slow roller to first which substitute Hannes Gerber handled, electing to go for the out and step on the bag, rather than coming home to prevent the run. Turkington graciously accepted Gerber’s gift, rounding out the scoring at 4-0.
With the win, Redwood moves to 15-6 on the year (10-3 MCAL). The Giants remain in the second spot in the MCAL, a game behind Marin Catholic in the loss column (the Wildcats beat up on Terra Linda on Tuesday, 8-0) and a half-game ahead of Tam (which won a non-league contest on Monday).
Minty’s record improves to 9-1, not only best in the MCAL, but best in the North Coast Section, and #3 in all of California.
The Giants travel to Novato Friday afternoon to face the Hornets again, before closing out their regular season next week against the Branson Bulls.

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