3/2: On a sunny afternoon in Petaluma, the Giants cobbled together enough runs to support an excellent outing from senior starter, Lucas Roy, to defeat Casa Grande, 4-1.
Roy was superb all afternoon, keeping the Gauchos off balance by changing speeds and moving the ball at will around the plate. He ultimately completed 6 innings, scattering 5 hits and but a single walk to record the win. Matt Smalbach picked up the save with a strong showing in the 7th, showcasing a plus-curveball.
Casa drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a single, followed by a fielder’s choice and another single. But the Giants answered with a run of their own in the fourth on singles by Ben Cohen and Alex Hagen, a double-steal, and a sacrifice fly from Luca Bove. With strong pitching from both sides, the scored remained tied 1-1, going to the 7th. Then things got interesting.
Pinch-hitter Matt Birchenough led off the Giants’ half of the 7th with a hard line drive single to left. Charlie Welch then attempted what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt, but the Gauchos neglected to account for Birchenough’s speed and failed to get the force at second, leaving Giants at first and second with nobody out. Jackson Reed next laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Roy then put further pressure on the home team by laying down yet another perfect bunt, which went for a single with Birchenough scoring and Welch advancing to third. Roy followed by stealing second with Welch scoring on an error by the Gauchos catcher. After a Cohen groundout advanced Roy to third, Hagen walked and Roy scored on a hard grounder by Nick Welch which handcuffed the Casa Grande third baseman. By the time the half inning was over, the Giants had scored 3 times and led 4-1, even though they hit only one ball out of the infield.
Smalbach then came in to shut the door in the bottom of the 7th, and the Giants had to feel fortunate to escape with a win against a good Gauchos squad. If the historians can be trusted, this was Mike Firenzi’s first defeat of Casa Grande in his time at Redwood.
Roy finished with 2 hits, with 1 each for Reed, Cohen, Nick Welch, Birchenough and Hagen, who added 2 walks. And the Giants pitchers threw from favorable counts all day, starting 74% of the Gauchos hitters with strikes and ultimately throwing almost 70% total strikes on the day.
The rest of the week doesn’t get any easier with the Giants traveling for games at Rancho Cotate tomorrow and Vintage in Napa on Thursday.