4/13/23:   The Redwood Varsity Baseball Giants fell behind early to an improved home-field version of the Terra Linda Trojans, but came back in the 3rd inning and eventually pulled away, sweeping their season series and remaining atop the MCAL with six games to play. The final score of 6-2 seemed close, given the Giants’ 14-0 pummeling of the Trojans the prior week at Redwood.

Today, traveling to a breezy San Rafael, the Giants took some time to solve 6’7” Trojan starting pitcher Miles Finn, going down in order to start the game. Meanwhile, the surprising Trojans got to Giants starter Rory Minty early. Although Minty finished his 5 2/3 innings with a typically polished line of three hits and eight strikeouts to just one walk, his one walk was to the second batter of the game, Trojan second baseman Si Eon Davis.

First baseman Ben Butler followed Davis with a laser all the way into the right field corner, bouncing up alongside the 290’ sign, and putting runners on second and third. Then Trojan catcher Leon Cervantes smacked a comebacker along the ground to Minty’s glove side. Minty slowed the ball enough that Giants shortstop Danil Wells had to charge in to try for a play at the plate. But the ball sneaked under his glove too, allowing Davis to score, and putting the Trojans on the board 1-0. And there was only one out… in the first inning! What in heck was going on?

The Trojans plated another run on shortstop Hayden Biesiadecki’s grounder to first, doubling the insult to 2-0. Fortunately, Minty and the Giants defense tightened up for the rest of the game, and the universe returned to normalcy.

Giants catcher Rory Coughlan led off the top of the 2nd with a sharp grounder booted by Biesiadecki, moving to second on Minty’s sacrifice bunt, and then to third on a wild pitch. Right fielder Jack Moseley then slapped a ball up the middle right through Finn’s lanky legs, scoring Coughlan, and halving the deficit to 2-1.

In the top of the 3rd, left fielder Tyler Sofnas led off with a shot past third base for a single, followed by second baseman Theo Trono’s filthy unplayable bunt down the third base line. Wells then cranked a grounder to his counterpart Biesiadecki, who let it squirt out into center field for his second error of the game, scoring Sofnas, and evening the score at 2-2, with Wells taking second base on the throw.

With runners on second and third and one out, Coughlan ripped a dangerous ball down to Trojan third baseman Nate Combrink, who was able to glove it and hold the runners while throwing across for out number two.  But two pitches later, with Minty standing in, Finn flung a wild pitch to score Trono and hand Redwood the lead for good, 3-2.

The Giants added a run in the top of the 5th, when Coughlan hit the ball hard for his third at-bat in a row, scoring third baseman Rex Solle, who had reached earlier on a single.

With the score 4-2 in the top of the 6th, Finn began to flag, walking Moseley and giving way to reliever Luca Benassini.  Benassini fared no better, walking center fielder Gavin Soper, then uncorking a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with no outs.

Sensing the Trojans on the ropes, Giants Head Coach Mike Firenzi called for a squeeze play with Sofnas at bat. But the play didn’t quite go to plan. With Moseley barreling home, Benassini let fly what might have turned out to be his second wild pitch in a row, a good 18 inches off the plate. Sofnas, with an obligation to bunt and protect the runner, lunged for the ball, ticking it foul.

As Sofnas and Mosely started to return to their places, the home plate umpire started gesturing, and directed Sofnas off the field. His claim was that Sofnas, in lunging for the bunt, had stepped out of the batter’s box, and therefore was automatically out on the first pitch he had seen, and a terrible pitch at that.

The Giants made better use of Benassini’s wild pitches in the top of the 7th, as Solle led off absorbing one of them to take first base, then advancing to second and then third on two more.  Eager to find a pitch to hit, the red-hot Coughlan powered the first strike he saw over the 325’ sign in left field for Redwood’s second home run of the entire year, scoring Solle and making it 6-2. Ironically, though a strong breeze had been blowing out to left the entire day, the wind stopped during Coughlan’s at-bat, noticeably resuming shortly thereafter. That ball had left the park unaided, fueled by pure Giant power.

Meanwhile, Firenzi had decided to rest Minty’s arm at 85 pitches, bringing in junior right-hander Chas Veley with two outs in the bottom of the 6th. Veley looked good, fooling Biasiedecki badly on a curveball to retire the side.

Finn, who had moved over to first for the Trojans, led off the bottom of the 7th with a slow roller in the hole. Wells raced over to grab it with a sweet backhand, nipping Finn courtesy of a superstar scoop by first baseman Ben Resnick. That was it for Terra Linda, who, after that early scare, had managed just three more baserunners on the day.

With the win, the Giants move to 14-4 on the year (9-1 MCAL), and prepare to face their rivals the Marin Catholic Wildcats, who currently stand at second place in the MCAL at 6-2 (11-5 overall). The Giants will visit MC on Tuesday in Kentfield, before returning the favor on Friday.

Minty continues his perfect season, with a record of 8-0, and 55 strikeouts against just 9 walks. Coughlan retakes the team lead in batting, edging Solle at .383 to .382, with Moseley now rising to .342 and Sofnas to .341 (despite that questionable batter’s box call). With 18 of 24 games complete, the Giants are now exactly 75% of the way through their 2023 regular season.

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