3/14: Some of your favorite days might be Christmas, the eight days of Chanukah, New Years, or your Birthday. If you are a baseball fan, one of your favorite days has to be Opening Day. It marks the day of a new beginning for your team, a chance to go undefeated, set new records, and win a Championship. On Opening Day, every team starts in first place. Since Mike Firenzi took the helm of the Redwood Giants Baseball Program, his Varsity team has never been out of first place in the MCAL. Today, that would change.
A last minute schedule change moved the Giants MCAL opener against the San Marin Mustangs to Moody Field. Contrary to their phenomenal 2015 season when the Giants never lost at home, the 2017 squad came into the game with a losing home record (1-2). Firenzi called on his ace, Zack Tonnerre to start on the mound to turn the tide for the Giants and keep the first place streak alive.
Tonnerre was dominant in his last start, striking out five in five innings while yielding just one hit in a shut-out performance to earn his first win of the season. Today, the Mustangs would load the bases without swinging the bat after two consecutive walks and a hit batter. They scored their first run after another walk on a 3-2 fastball that was called a ball. Mustang fan cheers were barely heard over the Giants fans jeers as many in the stands thought the pitch was a strike, similar to many of the balls that were called in the inning. Zack struck out the next batter on three pitches, and with an out and the bases loaded, Giants faithful hoped that they would get out of the inning giving up just one run.
San Marin quelled the Giants hopes by following with two consecutive hits, putting them up 3-0 with one out. Michael Benz was called on to relieve Tonnerre and gave up two more hits, sending the Giants into the bottom of the first down 6-0.
Genki LeClair led off the bottom of the inning with a walk and was sent to third on a double by Henry Zeisler. Nicolas Belgum kept his consecutive hitting streak alive with a single to left, knocking in LeClair and cutting the Mustang lead to five runs. Zeisler would score on a passed ball and after Aubrey Sine advanced Belgum to third, Belgum would keep his run scoring streak alive after scoring on a sacrifice fly by Michael Connors. Dane Goodman would open his MCAL season with a double over the center fielder’s head, but would be left stranded on the bases. After one inning of play, the Giants were down 6-3.
The Giants didn’t mount a threat while Benz held the Mustangs scoreless through five innings. Redwood cut the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth after base hits by Josh Cohen and LeClair and a sacrifice fly by Zeisler. With two outs in the bottom of the of the sixth, Goodman would bang his second hit of the game but the Giants ended the inning hustling out to their positions, still down 6-4.
Firenzi went to the bullpen in the top of the seventh, calling on Oliver Pearson. Benz jogged off of the field to a home field ovation after giving up no runs through six and a third innings, striking out five and walking one after throwing ninety-seven pitches Another Mustang run would score after Pascal Brassey fielded a ball in the hole and caught the runner off of third, but an errant throw to the plate put the Mustangs up 7-4 going into the bottom of the seventh. Pearson closed the inning with a strike out.
Genki LeClair and Henry Zeisler walked in the bottom of the inning, but with the tying run at the plate and two outs, the game ended with a swinging strike-out, clearing the Mustang dugout for their game-winning celebration on Moody Field. The Mustangs are now the only team in the MCAL to have a winning record against the Giants since 2015 (3-2).
Tonnerre would get the loss for the Giants. Genki LeClair, Henry Zeisler, Nicolas Belgum and Josh Cohen all had hits for the Giants while Dane Goodman added two hits to the Giants total. Novato matched the Giants with six hits.
For the first time in three years, the Giants are in last place in the MCAL in a tie with four other teams. The Giants plan to start to turn their home losing record around and hope to unseat the first place Novato Hornets (1-0) at Moody Field on Friday at 4:30.