4/06: With a storm approaching the Bay Area, all MCAL baseball games that were scheduled for Friday were moved to Thursday. The weather report promised a 30% chance of rain at 4pm, moving to 90% at 5pm and staying steady through Friday. It was an obvious formula, once it started to rain, it wasn’t going to stop. The key was to get the game in before the clouds opened up.
For CIF High School Baseball, a game is considered complete after five innings of play (unless the home team is ahead after 4 1/2 innings of play, they would not need to bat in the bottom of the inning and would be declared the winner). If the game is called after five innings, the final score will be determined by the last completed inning of play.
In an effort to get the game in, game time was moved to 4pm and with heavy cloud cover and a strong frigid breeze blowing, Redwood starting pitcher Zach Tonnerre slung the first pitch of the game. Fittingly, Tonnerre opened the game with a strike, and after just seven pitches, he struck out the first two batters he faced. Zach closed out the inning by doing what not many pitchers have been able to do this year, getting Drake superstar Nick Roth out on a grounder to Nicolas Belgum. Nick Roth got the start for Drake, boasting five wins and an ERA below .50, Roth showed why he is on the top five in the MCAL in the three relevant pitching stats-ERA, Wins and Strikeouts and sent the Giants down in order in the bottom of the inning. So, after a quick inning, it became evident that it would be a pitching dual.
Tonnerre would give up just a walk in the top of the second, and Roth would only yield a single to Luke Zlatunich in the bottom of the inning. With winds picking up, an occasional rain drop could be felt as big, dark, ominous clouds loomed in the West, making their way to Moody Field.
Drake would get two runners on in the top of the third but would be sent out to the field with out scoring again. Dane Goodman walked in the bottom of the inning, but that would be the only Redwood threat of the frame. Tonnerre and Roth, Redwood and Drake, continued to square off, but like evenly matched heavyweight fighters, they would throw punches without landing that knock-out punch.
Drake had Redwood on the ropes in the top of the fourth, when they put the first two batters on base on an error and a walk. Tonnerre bounced back by striking out the next batter and ended the inning in a flurry with a double play on a grounder that he fielded cleanly, tossed to Brassey at second who completed the inning ending double-play with a perfect throw to Nicolas Belgum at first. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, Aubrey Sine roped a single to left, but like Drake just 1/2 inning before, the threat would end with one runner left on base.
Small intermittent rain drops turned to a more steady, heavier rain in the top of the fifth. Tonnerre made quick work of the inning sending Pirates down 1-2-3 in the top and Roth would counter, sending the Giants down 1-2-3 in the bottom. So after five full innings of play, with rains now steady, a complete game could be declared but a winner could not as the score remained knotted at 0-0.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Nick Roth singled to short but would be erased on the Giants second double-play of the game on a grounder to Brassey, who tossed to Anthony Pomilia at second, who bare-handed the ball for a quick toss to Belgum at first. Dane Goodman led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Josh Cohen. As the rain continued, Roth kicked the wet clay out of his spikes as he prepared to face Nicolas Belgum. Belgum sent Goodman to third by banging the Giants third hit of the day with a single up the middle. Drake would pitch-out in an attempt take down Goodman at third, but Goodman timed the throw to third perfectly and bolted towards the plate. The Pirates third baseman quickly threw to home and Goodman slid under the tag and was met with a chorus of cheers as the home plate umpire signaled and screamed “Safe!” The inning ended with the Giants up by a run.
As promised, the steady rain continued, wet dirt on the field now glistened as puddles began to form as the ominous black could that once lingered in the West now stood ominously above Moody Field. Tonnerre would walk the lead off batter and would be lifted for reliever Michael Benz. Benz induced a grounder to first, but with slippery conditions, the ball was bobbled and after the mud settled, Drake now had runners on first and second with no outs. Redwood transitioned into their bunt defense and on cue, the Drake batter squared to bunt. A riding inside pitch caught him in the arm which left the bases loaded and no outs. With the rain pounding, the umpires called a quick meeting and pronounced a rain delay. Both teams huddled under the cover of their respective dugouts as fans waited for a break in the weather. Five minutes later the umpires would call the game, erasing what happened in the top half of the seventh, reverting the score to the last completed inning.
“I’m disappointed we couldn’t finish the game. But, there was no guarantee that they would score, there was no guarantee that if they did, we wouldn’t score in the bottom of the seventh”, Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game. “We will never know…but Tonnerre threw a hell of a game and I’m happy we got the win.” It may all be settled on May 9th, when Redwood travels to Drake in the second to last game of the season. Redwood is now back in first place in the MCAL, tied with the Pirates with a 7-1 record.
Nicolas Belgum, Luke Zlatnunich and Aubrey Sine had hits for the Giants with Dane Goodman scoring the lone, winning run. Tonnerre earned his fourth win of the year, striking out six in a shut-out effort.
Redwood will come off of the break hosting Branson at Moody Field on Tuesday, April 18 at 4:30.