2/20: Head coach, Mike Firenzi and his reworked Varsity team began the defense of their 2018 MCAL championship with a hard-fought win over Napa’s Vintage high school, defeating the Crushers 2-1 on a cold aftenoon at Moody field.
Junior, Nick Welch, started on the hill for the Giants, throwing three full innings. Welch struck out six batters and conceded one run after 69 pitches.
The Crushers took the lead in the second inning but that was short-lived. In the bottom of the third, Giants second basemen, Genki LeClair, led off the inning with a hard-hit bomb to right-center field. The speedy senior landed on third base with a stand-up triple. The Giants tied the game after center-fielder, Lucas Roy, dropped a beautiful bunt down the third base line, scoring LeClair (1-1). Next up, third baseman, Jackson Barry, lined the ball into left field, scoring Roy (2-1, Redwood). The Giants relied on big plays on defense and a steady bullpen to secure the victory in the 2019 home opener.
Pitcher, Matt Birchenough, relieved Welch in the fourth inning, picking off a runner at second with a nifty designed play with his middle infielders. The corners got involved next, when third baseman, Jackson Barry, snared a hard-hit ball, tagged third, then threw a short-hopped ball to first baseman, Jack Morken, for a critical double-play. The Giants found themselves in many tight situations all night but always found their way out.
Senior, Jackson Bender, pitched the fifth and sixth innings. Bender was sharp, striking out three while not allowing a run. The top of the fifth inning was highlighted when, with runners in scoring position, the Giants defense kept the Crushers off the scoreboard with a tremendous relay from left-fielder, Sam Warren, to shortstop, Jackson Reed, who fired a bullet to catcher, Jake Gassman, throwing the tying run out at home and preserving the one-run lead.
In the seventh inning, Jesse Gassman was given the ball to close out the game. After allowing one hit, Gassman closed the door on the Crushers by picking off a runner at second with no outs then striking out the remainder of the side.
The Giants offense finished with a total of seven hits: LeClair (2), Roy (1), Barry (1), Hagen (1), Warren (1), and Reed (1). Giants’ pitching combined for a total of eleven strikeouts while conceding just one run. This was a complete team win with contributions from 17 different players throughout the home opener. “We executed today” Firenzi said after the game, “We bunted, had a hit-and-run, and we had a great relay play to cut off a run at the plate. We have some things to work on, but I’m pleased with how we played today.”
The Varsity side resumes their pre-season schedule on Friday the 22nd when they host Rancho Cotate high school at Moody field. Senior, Kyle Felder, is scheduled to start for the Giants. First pitch: 3:30 p.m.