4/20: Luca Bove provided the RBIs and Tyler Blair and Kent Goodman made it hold up in a tightly contested 3-1 Giants’ victory in the series opener on a cold and windy day in San Anselmo.
Charlie Welch got things started for the Giants with a one-out pop fly double into the right-center field Bermuda Triangle. Bove then drove in Welch with a single to center and the Giants took a 1-0 lead.
Blair got the starting assignment for the Giants and ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the first. After a walk sandwiched by two singles, Drake had the bases loaded and only one out. After bringing home a run on a safety squeeze to tie the game, Drake re-loaded the bases with two outs on a base on balls. Blair was one ball or one hit away from Drake taking the lead when he fell behind Drake’s next hitter to run the count to 3-1. But Blair buckled down and limited the damage, coming back to strike out the Drake batter and hold the line at 1-1 after one inning.
From there Blair settled down and Drake did not seriously threaten again. Blair finished the day with only one run allowed and nine strikeouts over his five innings. With Blair just below 100 pitches after five, Kent Goodman came in to relieve Blair and retired Drake without incident in the bottom of the sixth. But while Blair and Goodman were keeping Drake off the board, Drake’s starting pitcher was doing the same to the Giants, and heading into the top of the seventh the game was still tied 1-1.
Ethan Crawford, replacing Connor Yang at catcher after he was hit by a pitch earlier in the game (which unfortunately was later revealed to have fractured Yang’s hand), led off the top of the seventh with an infield single to short. After Charlie Ginsburg sacrificed Crawford to second, pinch hitter Nick Gehrman lined a shot down the first base line that was speared by Drake’s first baseman for the second out of the inning. Cole McGowan followed and was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second.
Welch was next and he hit a grounder into the 5.5 hole at short. Drake’s shortstop fielded the ball but in doing so went down to the ground, and his throw to second was weak and too late to force out McGowan, leaving the bases loaded for Bove, who came up big with a liner to center that plated two and gave Redwood a 3-1 lead.
Goodman set Drake down in order in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win for the Giants. Bove led the offense in hits with two and RBIs with three, and Welch added two hits as well.
4/22: Was it a baseball game or a quick visit to the ninth circle of hell? Unclear but what is known is that the Giants lost their first game of the season to Drake as the Pirates rallied for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to take the win at Moody Field.
The day started with the news that Connor Yang would be out for the foreseeable future with a broken hand suffered in Tuesday’s game. In addition, Mikey Bender was reporting a bit of arm soreness and was bumped out of the starting assignment in favor of Sam Rice.
Rice was greeted rudely by Drake’s star player Jonas Salk, who tripled on a deep drive to right-center to lead off the game and later scored on a groundout. The Pirates were threatening again in the top half of the third with the bases loaded and one out when the day’s weirdness officially kicked in.
Drake’s hitter hit a fly ball to center that was deep enough the bring the runner home from third and Cole McGowan, knowing he had no chance to throw out the runner tagging up to come home, correctly threw to third in an attempt to get the Drake runner advancing from second. But the throw was too late and the Drake baserunner was safe at third.
Or was he? Redwood tagged second base, claiming that the Drake baserunner had left too early, and the umpire agreed, calling him out and ending the inning. The debate then moved to whether or not the run represented by the runner coming home from third on the play should or should not count. After a fair amount of discussion amongst the umpires, Coach Firenzi and Drake’s coach Taber Watson, it was determined to be a “time play” where the run counts if the runner touches home plate before the third out is made on the bases, and Drake’s lead stood at 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third.
It looked like Redwood was going to go quietly in their half of the third, but with two outs and nobody on Charlie Welch singled to center. Luca Bove then drove a hard liner into the right field corner to score Welch and give himself a triple. After Ben Cohen walked, Bove scored on a wild pitch. Rice finished the scoring with a double to right center to score Cohen, and what looked like an inning that was going nowhere ended with the Giants putting three runs up for a 3-2 lead. The Giants worked the two-out magic again in the following inning, when Rex Solle reached on a two-out, bases empty error and McGowan made it hurt, tripling to center for a 4-2 Redwood lead through four innings.
Drake scored one more off of Rice in the top of the sixth and were threatening with the bases loaded and two outs. With Rice into the nineties in his pitch count, Coach Firenzi brought in Miles Kawashima in relief, and Kawashima retired Drake’s next hitter on a groundout to preserve the Giants’ lead at 4-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Giants missed an opportunity to add on that hurt both figuratively and literally, with Charlie Ginsburg getting thrown out at third on a steal attempt to end the inning. To add injury to insult, Ginsburg suffered a broken nose on the play after taking a hard (but non-malicious) swipe tag to the face from Drake’s third baseman.
So with the Giants up 4-3 heading into Drake’s last at-bat, the Giants were hoping to find their way through to yet another victory. But this time it wasn’t to be, as bases on balls and timely hitting from Drake yielded them four runs off of three Redwood relievers. The Giants went quietly in the bottom of the seventh, and Redwood lost for the first time this season by a final count of 7-4.
One would think that a broken hand, a broken nose and the first loss of the year was quite enough thanks, but at least twenty minutes after the game ended Ethan Crawford, who was minding his own business in the dugout, took a direct shot above the eye from a stray ball from the bullpen that somehow managed to find its way over the bullpen fence and through a very narrow opening into the dugout. It was a one in a million shot, but it resulted in some ugly swelling for Crawford and required a hospital visit, although thankfully neither Crawford’s eye nor eye socket suffered any damage.
Bove led the offensive charge again with three hits, and Welch added a pair of his own.
4/23: The black cloud that hung over the Giants’ in the late innings on Thursday afternoon remained there Friday – at least over the offense – as the Giants’ bats went strangely quiet and Redwood lost the game and series to Drake by 2-1 counts.
The Giants took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the second when Sam Rice was wild pitched from first all the way home.
Mikey Bender had been questionable to start this game with arm soreness, but with Redwood looking to bounce back from their first loss of the year he took the mound in any event and overall pitched very effectively. However, after striking out the first two Pirates in the top of the third, Bender walked the bases loaded, and Drake paid it off with a two-run single to center and a 2-1 lead.
And strangely enough, that’s where it finished, as neither team mounted much in the way of scoring opportunities for the rest of the game. The Giants’ best chance came in the bottom of the sixth, when with runners on first and third with one out, Sam Rice scorched a liner that had the misfortune of flying directly into the glove of Drake’s second baseman. The ball almost took the glove with it, but it was not to be. Jonas Salk came in to close the game for Drake in the seventh and struck out the side to cap the series victory for the Pirates.
There were some bright spots in the loss, including a very solid start from Bender and three innings of shutout relief from Kent Goodman. Sam McIntosh also performed admirably at catcher with Connor Yang and Ethan Crawford unavailable, throwing out two Drake would be base stealers.
After a week off the Giants will look to rebound against San Marin next week – Tuesday and Thursday at Moody and Friday at San Marin (all games 4:30pm).