5/18: The Giants ended the season as the #7 seed in the NCS and as a result, they started the tournament with a home game and drew a favorable matchup vs.the Maria Carrillo Pumas out of Santa Rosa, who came in with an 11-14-1 record and ranked #10. There wasn’t much offense in this game, but the Giants did just enough at the plate to a secure a 2-1 victory.
Rex Solle got the start for the Giants and he pitched well. He went five and a third, and gave up 1 run on 1 hit with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. Kent Goodman came on in the 6th in relief and closed out the game. Goodman gave up 0 runs on 1 hit with 4 strikeouts and 1 walk.
Maria’s starting pitcher may be why they ranked #10 in the NCS as he looked good.
The top of the 5th was a microcosm of this game. The first Maria hitter hit a ball to short and the throw was off line, ricocheting off the 1st base line fence. The runner tried to make it to second, but was gunned down by Rory Minty by at least 5 feet. So now, instead of a man on 1st with no outs, they had bases empty with 1 out. The next batter walks. Solle tries to pick him off, but the throw to first is off line, again ricocheting off the first-base line fence. The runner makes it easily to second, but tries to make it to third. Luca Bove, who was backing up the play at 1st, throws a bullet to third and picks off the runner by 5-10 feet. Deja vu all over again, and visions of Little League.
Despite all this, Maria was only down 2-1 going into the 7th.
In the 7th, Maria’s first batter hit a single up the middle to put a man on first. The second batter hit a fly ball to shallow right. Luca Bova came sprinting in for it, but he tripped on something in the outfield. He hit the turf and almost made the catch on his knees, but couldn’t quite come up with it. It was just an unlucky break. Now, Maria had men on 1st and 2nd with no outs, and they replaced both runners with pinch-runners, so presumably they had fast guys on the base paths. In any case, things were getting interesting creating a perfect situation for a bunt.
Most baseball fans dislike the sacrifice bunt because they don’t like giving up the out, and they don’t like taking the bat of their hitters’ hands. But here, a sac bunt made sense because having men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out opens up many possibilities:
1. A basehit scores 2 to take the lead.
2. A sac fly scores 1 to tie.
3. A passed ball/wild pitch ties the game.
4. A squeeze is possible.
5. Presumably, Redwood would bring the infield in, and not concede the tying run, so getting a ball through the infield is a little easier.
6.A ground ball to any deep part of the infield scores the tying run.
7. A man on third puts more pressure on the pitcher.
And keep in mind that both base runners were inserted into the game to pinch run for a reason. The Carillo hitter waved the bat weakly a couple of times before striking out. Now, there was one out, and the sac bunt was no longer in order. The next batter popped out to shortstop for the second out. Goodman struck out the final batter to secure the victory.
The Giants are now 19-8 and will play again on Saturday in the second round of the NCS.