3/07/23:  The Redwood Varsity Baseball Giants brought their A-game to Mark Whitburn Field in Novato on Tuesday, kicking off 2023 MCAL play and pinning a decisive win on the San Marin Mustangs by the score of 5-1. The Giants grabbed a 2-0 lead before a single out had been registered, then never looked back, riding the left arm of senior ace Rory Minty through all seven innings.  Minty scattered ten hits, but issued only one walk, and the Giant defense stood strong behind him, making play after play all day long.


Freshman second baseman Theo Trono greeted starting Mustang pitcher Sean McGrath with a bang, blasting a standup triple nearly to the wall in right center. Mustang outfielders Riley Desilva and Jake Whitlock converged near the ball, with right fielder Whitlock tumbling over a diving Desilva in spectacular fashion – such that it took several minutes to determine that both were unhurt.


Unimpressed with the delay, Redwood third baseman Rex Solle hammered a standup double into the other gap to score Trono, then scored himself on Minty’s twisting flare, which dropped just inside the left-field line and spun away from the field to the side wall. Down 2-0 with no outs, McGrath managed to compose himself and suppress the rally, inducing successive comebackers from first baseman Ben Resnick and shortstop Danil Wells.


Minty made short work of the Mustangs in the bottom of the inning, fanning shortstop Anthony Scheppler for the first of three times on the day (all swinging). The only fly in the ointment was Mustang first baseman Josh Martin, who hit Minty well all day. Martin laced a double into right field, just under the glove of a diving Jack Moseley, but was left stranded on Scheppler’s whiff.


San Marin managed their only run in the bottom of the 2nd, when McGrath ripped a grounder over the bag at third, just out of the reach of a diving Solle, then advanced to third on a single by left fielder Jake Simpson. The Giants looked to be out of the inning when second baseman Joey Cipollini grounded straight to Wells with two outs, but Wells’s brief bobble allowed McGrath to score, and marked Redwood’s only error of the game.


Redwood responded in the top of the 3rd, kicked off again by Trono, who singled to left, then stole both second and third. With the left-handed Minty stepping into the batter’s box, Redwood Head Coach Mike Firenzi decided to keep the party going, sending Trono racing home with the pitch on a good old-fashioned squeeze play. Minty executed his part perfectly, dropping a bunt just far enough towards first to clear the way for Trono, making it 3-1.


San Marin’s pesky Martin reached base again in the bottom of the inning on a blown call. On a routine grounder to first, Minty raced over to handle Resnick’s throw, beating Martin to the bag by a step. Unfortunately, the infield ump saw something else entirely, ruling that Minty’s foot had been off the base; a conference with his home plate counterpart revealed no further insight, so Martin had to be credited with a hit. Minty took out his discontent on Scheppler, fanning him again on 4 pitches, before handing the spotlight to Solle, who shut the Mustangs down by turning catcher Jon Holtz’s sharp grounder into a sweet 5-4-3 double play.


The Giants continued to demonstrate their bunting prowess in the 4th, adding a run on center fielder Gavin Soper’s expert example. Soper’s precision tap started down the first base line like a confused tourist staring at a map, unsure whether to turn fair, foul, or to die right there on the line. The uncertainty flummoxed Holtz into firing the ball well into right field, scoring Wells, and extending Redwood’s lead, 4-1. Not surprisingly, Wells had reached second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Giants catcher Rory Coughlan.


The Mustangs tested Minty in the bottom of the 5th. In another close play at first, Minty leaped to snag Resnick’s high toss, then came down on the bag just ahead of Cipollini, his momentum sending both players tumbling to the ground. A bit shaken up, Minty issued his only walk of the game to Desilva, but Couglan quickly fixed the issue with a snap throw down to first. Resnick handled the rocket in front of the base in foul ground, sweeping a tag 180 degrees behind his back to complete the stylish pickoff.


Ever a threat, Martin followed by ripping a liner through the gap in left center for a double which would have certainly scored Desilva, who now sat on the bench thanks to Coughlan and Resnick. Martin’s shot was visibly rising as it passed just over the glove of a leaping Wells on the edge of the outfield grass. Fortunately, Minty’s favorite hitter Scheppler stood in next, and Minty struck him out again, swinging, to retire the side.


Minty helped pad his own lead in the bottom of the 7th, pushing a ground ball past McGrath (now at second base), to plate Trono, and rounding out the scoring at 5-1. The speedy Trono had been drilled by Mustang reliever Erik Bach, then stolen second and reached third on a wild pitch. He finished with three runs and two hits on the day.


San Marin seemed done for in the bottom of the 7th, when Minty finally retired Martin on a routine ground ball to Trono, forcing the Mustangs down their last out, with the hapless Scheppler coming up. Perhaps feeling generous, or overeager to close things out, Minty pegged Scheppler, then watched Holtz smash a double to the wall in right center.  


Soper and new right fielder Sam Gersch converged on the ball as Scheppler was rounding third with the green light from his coach. It was Gersch who got to the ball first, firing a strong throw in to Wells, who came over from short to collect the relay on the right-field grass, then wheeled around for what surely would be a close play at the plate.


Wells’s throw to Coughlan came in on one hop, slightly up the third base line, just as Scheppler arrived, sliding to his right and reaching out towards home plate with his left arm. Coughlan, smartly positioned just in front of the plate, slapped the tag on Scheppler’s arm with inches to spare, ending the game then and there. Wells, Minty, and Coughlan exulted as their teammates raced onto the field, while a dejected Sheppler trudged off into the sunset.


With the Giants now 5-1 on the year (1-0 MCAL), Coughlan leads all Giants hitters with a .438 average, ahead of Sofnas and Trono, who both stand at .353. Minty moves to 4-0, boasting 27 strikeouts against only 3 walks.


The Giants are scheduled to host the Mustangs Thursday afternoon in their rubber match, before battling Tam High next week home and away. However, following a record rainfall season, and with another “atmospheric river” fast approaching, it’s anybody’s guess how the upcoming schedule will actually shake out.

Comments are closed.