5/4: Tyler Blair was strong again on the mound and the Giants jumped on San Marin early with a five run first inning on the way to a 7-3 victory on Tuesday afternoon at Moody.
In a beginning reminiscent of his start two weeks ago at Drake, Blair found himself in a bit of trouble in the top of the first. After a pair of walks sandwiched around a single, the Mustangs had the bases loaded with one out and were looking to put Redwood down early. But Blair got San Marin’s hitter to roll over on a grounder to short and the Charlies came through with a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat and keep the Mustangs off the board.
The Giants struck with a crooked number in the bottom half. Ben Cohen got things started with a walk and a steal of second. With one down and Luca Bove at the plate, Cohen took off for third when a pitch in the dirt kicked in front of San Marin’s catcher. The throw to third was high and late, but after leaping to catch the ball the Mustangs’ third baseman’s foot came down on the pinkie finger of Cohen’s right hand, breaking it in two places.
After Nick Gehrman came in to replace Cohen, Bove drove him home with a double to left center. Sam Rice then sent Bove to third with a line drive single to left. Cole McGowan singled to right to plate Bove and move Rice to second. Mikey Bender then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Rice and McGowan to second and third. After a walk to Charlie Ginsburg loaded the bases with two outs, Sam McIntosh lifted a pop fly into the right center bermuda triangle behind second base. San Marin’s center fielder, right fielder and second baseman all had a chance at it, but the ball eluded them all. With two outs, the baserunners were moving on contact and Rice and McGowan scored easily and Ginsburg coasted into third and stopped there. But when the Mustangs were lackadaisical with their throw back into the infield and generally inattentive to his presence, Ginsburg took off from third and scored, with San Marin not even getting a throw off to the plate.
Rex Solle and Gehrman each added an RBI single in the third inning to put Redwood up by a touchdown, and Blair put it in cruise control from there, striking out five over his six innings and yielding only two unearned runs. Myles Kawashima put a wrap on things, striking out two in the seventh while yielding one unearned run.
McGowan led the Giants in hits and runs scored on the day with two.
5/6: The hit parade continued for the Giants on Thursday at Moody Field, as they smacked twenty hits in a 16-4 win over the Mustangs.
Sam Rice got the start for Redwood and a combination of some wildness from Rice and some misplays in the outfield yielded a quick two runs to San Marin in the top of the first. With the bases loaded and one out and two runs already in, Coach Firenzi pulled Rice after only 30 pitches (more on that below) and called in Kent Goodman from the bullpen for his earliest appearance in a game all season by far. Goodman did a great job limiting the damage, allowing only one more run to score, and although it was 3-0 Mustangs after their first at bat, it could have been much worse.
The Giants put a dent into that lead straight away, as Bove lead off the bottom of the first with a single and was doubled to third by Charlie Welch. Cole McGowan brought Bove home with a sac fly, and Mikey Bender plated Welch with a two-out single.
After Goodman put the Mustangs down quietly in the second and third, the Giants put up an 8 spot in the bottom of the third. Bove got things started again with a single to right. Welch followed with a terrific bunt that hugged the third base line and stayed fair, advancing Bove to second as Welch reached first without a throw. After a pickoff play gone array, Bove scored and Welch took third. Goodman then drove in Welch with a single up the middle to make it 4-3 Giants.
That brought up Mikey Bender, who hit a towering drive well over the fence in left-center for a two-run homer, his second of the season. Nick Gehrman followed with a single to center and Ethan Crawford hit a hard grounder that got through the Mustangs’ second baseman, sending Gehrman to third. After Crawford stole second, Charlie Ginsburg drew San Marin’s third baseman in by faking a bunt, but then pulled it back for the slash play and chopped it over him and into left field for a base hit, scoring Gehrman and Crawford. Welch and McGowan closed out the scoring with RBI singles, and after three it was 10-3 Giants and the rout was on.
The Giants added single runs in the fourth and fifth on an RBI double from Crawford and a sacrifice fly by Rice. In the Giants’ last at-bat, Bove drilled a two-run homer of his own, and Bender and Gehrman also had RBI hits.
Gehrman and Grant Stoll capped a great day for the Giants bullpen, with Gehrman striking out four in his two innings and Stoll striking out the side in the seventh to end it.
Gehrman was 4-5 at the plate on the day. Bender led the Giants in RBIs with four. Bove, Welch and Bender had three hits each and Bove and Welch paced the team with three runs scored apiece.
5/7: It took nine innings and a generous helping of Firenzi small ball, but the Giants overcame a very tough San Marin pitcher and defeated the Mustangs 6-2 in nine tense innings for the win of the season so far in Novato.
Mikey Bender got the start for Redwood and was terrific, striking out ten while allowing just two runs (one earned). But San Marin’s pitcher, Ernie Anderson, was just as effective, holding the Giants scoreless without a hit through five innings.
The Giants were down 1-0 heading into the top of the sixth when the offense finally came to life. Bove got things started with a one out single to right for the first Redwood hit of the game. Welch then hit a grounder just inside the third base line, and when it got under the left fielder’s glove, Bove came all the way around to score. The throw to the plate was wild, allowing Welch to advance to third.
The shaky defense from the Mustangs continued when Coach Firenzi called for the suicide squeeze with McGowan at the plate. With Welch coming down the line from third on first movement from the pitcher, McGowan popped his bunt in the air down the first base line. San Marin’s first baseman made a diving catch, and popped up looking to double up Welch, who was at least two-thirds of the way to home plate as the catch was made.
But the Mustangs third baseman had charged in from third on the bunt, so it became a race between Welch and San Marin’s third baseman to see who could get back to third base first, and it was looking neck and neck. San Marin’s first baseman tried to make the tough play, attempting to hit his third baseman on a full sprint back to the bag, but his throw was just a bit off and it went down the third base line, allowing Welch to re-touch third and scamper home with the go ahead run.
After the Mustangs tied things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Coach Firenzi called on Sam Rice in relief of Bender, as Rice was still eligible to pitch due to the quick hook from Firenzi in Thursday’s game. Rice was looking for redemption, and he delivered, holding the Mustangs scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings.
Coach Firenzi rolled out the ground attack in the top of the ninth, and the Mustangs defense finally gave way. Rice led the inning off with a grounder to second that was bobbled for an error allowing Rice to reach first. After a Bender fly out, Nick Gehrman hit a grounder to short that was also briefly bobbled, allowing Gehrman to just barely beat the throw to first. Tyler Blair then laid down a sacrifice bunt to Anderson, but the Mustangs botched their bunt defense rotation, as the first baseman charged on the play but the second baseman failed to cover first. So Anderson had to take a bite out of the ball as Blair took an uncovered first base to load the bases with one down.
With the infield playing in, Charlie Ginsburg brought them in even further by squaring to bunt, but then brought the bat back on the slash play and sent a soft liner over the infield and into center for a two-run single. Rex Solle followed with yet another bunt, this one so perfectly placed down the third base line that San Marin’s third baseman didn’t even bother throwing to first. The Giants finished their scoring on a Bove sacrifice fly and a Welch grounder to short that was booted by the Mustangs. That ended the day for Anderson, who pitched great for the Mustangs and deserved a better fate.
But no one on the Giants cared much about that, and they needed Rice to put it away for them in the bottom of the ninth. And Rice did just that, setting the Mustangs down in order to secure the win and a series sweep. Rice recorded five strikeouts in his three innings, and as seems to be the case in just about every one of his pitching appearances, picked a runner off of first.
The regular season MCAL title will be on the line next week as the 13-2 Giants will square off against 14-1 Tamalpais. Game 1 is Tuesday at Moody and Games 2 and 3 will be at Tam Thursday and Friday (all games 4:30pm).