With the MCAL regular season crown on the line, Tamalpais came as advertised and put on a pitching, hitting and execution clinic in sweeping the Giants three games in a row to deal a death blow to Redwood’s 2021 MCAL title hopes.
5/11: In front of a packed house at Moody Field on Tuesday, Redwood and Tam squared off in the opener of their three game series. These two teams had been eyeing each other all season – Tam coming in with a 14-1 record and the Giants a single game behind at 13-2. All in attendance were expecting a terrific game and they got it. Unfortunately, Redwood came out on the short end by a count of 4-3.
The Giants got the scoring started in the bottom of the first off of Tam’s starter Grant Selig. With one out, Charlie Welch drew a walk. With two down and Welch still at first, Welch stole second and then scored on a Sam Rice line drive single to left. With Ben Cohen up, Rice stole second himself. Cohen then made it hurt by singling to right to drive in Rice for a 2-0 Redwood lead after one.
Tyler Blair took what has become his customary Tuesday start, and was looking strong but ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the second, when Tam tied the game 2-2 on a bases loaded safety squeeze followed by a run scoring passed ball.
A bit of umpiring weirdness descended on what was otherwise a great game in the middle innings. The first issue arose in the bottom of the third when with runners on first and third and two out, the home plate umpire appeared to lose track of the count and called Mikey Bender out on strikes on what seemed to be a called strike two, thinking the count was 1-2 instead of 2-1, ending the inning and depriving Bender of an RBI opportunity.
The second issue came in the top of the sixth. With Redwood holding a 3-2 lead after Tam’s second baseman Parker Falzone had booted a Sam McIntosh grounder in the bottom of the fifth, allowing Cole McGowan to score, Falzone came to the plate with one out and nobody aboard. Falzone cued a ground ball toward first, which Blair fielded himself and ran in front of Falzone, ready to apply the tag and record the out. Falzone started running backwards to evade the tag, and in the course of the play some verbal pleasantries were exchanged between Falzone and Blair. Hard to know what was said, but the home plate umpire determined it worthy of a mutual ejection.
This was a tough blow for the Giants, as Blair had been cruising through the middle innings and was only at 80 pitches total. Rice came in to relieve Blair and closed out the top of sixth, and the score was still 3-2 Giants when Tam came up for their final at bat in the top of the seventh.
Rice gave up a leadoff single to right and then walked Tam’s next hitter, who was ready to give the Giants an out via a sacrifice bunt, but Rice could not find the strike zone. Coach Firenzi then went to Kent Goodman in relief of Rice with runners on first and second and no outs.
Tam’s next hitter again squared to bunt, and the Giants employed the wheel play for their bunt defense, with Rex Solle and Bender each charging hard from the corners in an attempt to get the lead out at third, with shortstop Welch sprinting to cover third and second baseman Charlie Ginsburg doing the same at first base. This left the middle of the diamond fairly wide open, and Tam’s hitter took advantage, pulling the bat back and executing the slash play perfectly, grounding a ball toward the second baseman’s spot vacated by Ginsburg and into right center field. This tied the game and put runners on first and third. Tam’s Tucker Bougie followed with an RBI infield single that gave Tam a 4-3 lead.
It was still 4-3 Tam heading into the bottom of the seventh. Things were looking pretty grim for Redwood against Tam’s closer Tommy Flynn after Rice and Cohen were retired to start the inning. But after Bender singled, Ginsburg reached on an error and McIntosh singled to center, the Giants had the bases loaded. But Flynn buckled down and retired Solle on an infield pop up and Tam took Game 1 of the series.
Rice and Cohen lead the Giants with two hits each on the day.
5/13: The series headed over to Mill Valley on Thursday, but the bottom line was the same, as Tam’s pitching kept the Giants’ bats quiet and Tam prevailed by a score of 5-1, clinching the regular season MCAL title for Tam.
Mikey Bender got the start for the Giants against Alex Dargan for Tam. Bender and Dargan were both pitching great, matching zeroes for the first few innings, when Bender ran into some serious bad luck in the bottom of the third. With two down and no one on base, Tam’s Henry Basnight hit a pop up in front of home plate toward the first base side. It looked for all the world like the third out of the inning with a number of Giants having a shot at it, but the Mill Valley wind got involved and catcher Sam McIntosh was unable to make the play giving Basnight first base. After walks to Jake Ferguson and Tucker Bougie, Tam had the bases loaded.
It appeared that Bender had wiggled out of it though when he got Tam’s Matteo Bellisimo to hit a mile high pop up behind second base. However, second baseman Charlie Ginsburg lost it in the sun and never saw it, and the ball dropped for a two-run single. Dargan followed with a line drive single to right, and when the inning was over Tam had a 3-0 on three runs that even though they showed up as earned in the box score, never should have happened. It was a tough break for Bender, who deserved better.
Dargan made it hold up, limiting the Giants to a single run on a Sam Rice sacrifice fly over six innings. Bougie added a homer in the bottom of the fifth and also came on to close things out on the mound in the seventh, striking out Ginsburg, McIntosh and Rex Solle to end the game and clinch the MCAL regular season title with the 5-1 victory.
Charlie Welch led the Giants in hits on the day with two of the team’s total of five.
5/14: After Tam had clinched the MCAL title the preceding day, there was nothing but pride on the line on Friday in Mill Valley. Although the Giants showed more fight than they had the preceding day, Tam still prevailed by a 7-4 count to sweep the series.
Sam Rice got the took the starting assignment for the Giants but did not bring has good command with him. Although things proceeded somewhat similarly to the day before in that his defense could have helped him out a bit more, Rice was gone before the first inning was over, having surrendered three runs on only one base hit, with Tam the beneficiary of three hit batsmen, a wild pitch and a walk. Myles Kawashima came in to limit the damage, and after one inning it was 3-0 Tam.
With one out in the top of the third, Ben Cohen reached on an error. Charlie Welch followed with a ground ball single to right putting runners on first and second. Luca Bove then slammed a double up the gap in right center, sending Cohen and Welch home. Bove was called out on a bang-bang play trying to stretch his hit into a triple, but the game had been tightened up to 3-2 Tam.
The Giants briefly took the lead in the top of the fourth when Cohen came through with a two out, based loaded single up the middle to score Cole McGowan and Sam McIntosh. But Tam’s Charlie Boyle tied it up with a solo homer to left center off of Kawashima. A two run single by Jake Moore in the fifth and an RBI single from Alex Dargan in the sixth made it 7-4 Tam.
The Giants, meanwhile, were not making any progress against the middle of Tam’s bullpen and were still down 7-4 heading into the top of the seventh. Closer Tommy Flynn put the hammer down for Tam, setting the Giants down in order and completing the series sweep for Tam.
Bove led the Giants in hits and RBIs on the day with two apiece.
13-5 Redwood wraps up its season this week with two contests against Branson. Game 1 is Monday at College of Marin and Game 2 will be at Moody on Friday (both games 4:30pm).