Varsity Tips Montgomery in Season Opener

2/25:  On a balmy February afternoon at Moody Field, the Giants kicked off the 2020 regular season with a 6-5 comeback victory over Montgomery.

Ben Cohen got the opening day assignment on the mound.  Montgomery struck first with a single run in the top of the first.  Jackson Reed led off the bottom of the third with a sharp grounder down the third base line that caromed off the glove of Montgomery’s third baseman.  After Lucas Roy sacrificed Reed to third, Cohen singled to left to plate Reed and tie the game after three innings.

Cohen ran into trouble in the top of the fourth, and after surrendering three straight one out singles, coach Mike Firenzi called for Roy in relief to try to get the Giants out of the bases loaded jam.  After retiring his first hitter on a flyout to center that was too shallow for the runners to advance, Roy walked Montgomery’s next hitter to force in a run. Montgomery then followed with a hard grounder that got by third baseman Matt Smalbach’s backhand stab for a two-run double to left.  A throwing error led to another Montgomery run, and when the top of the fourth was over, the contest stood at 5-1 Montgomery.

The Giants bounced right back in the bottom half, however.  Matt Birchenough got things started by getting on via a hit by pitch. Jake Gassman followed with a grounder to third that was kicked by Montgomery’s third baseman for an error. Smalbach was then called on to sacrifice, and laid down a perfect two-strike bunt to the right side. Montgomery’s pitcher was late to cover, Smalbach beat the first baseman’s throw with a headfirst dive into first and the Giants had the bases loaded with no outs.

Nick Welch then pinch hit for his brother Charlie.  Birchenough came in to score on a wild pitch and Welch ultimately drew a base on balls to reload the bases.  Reed then grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice, with Welch being tagged out between first and second.  After Reed stole second to put runners at second and third, Roy followed with a sharp line drive single to right center to plate Smalbach and Reed.  After four innings, the game was tied up 5-5.

Roy held it down for the Giants in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, keeping Montgomery from scoring any further.  In the bottom of the sixth, Charlie Welch led off by taking one on the left shoulder for a hit batsman.  Reed then sacrificed Welch to second and Roy followed with a walk.  After a Welch steal of third put runners at the corners, Welch was thrown out at home on an attempted safety squeeze bunt from Cohen, and a promising inning looked like it might go for naught.

But Alex Hagen wasn’t having it, lining hard to left center for a clutch two-out single to plate Roy and put the Giants up 6-5.  Roy shut the door in the top of the seventh, and the Giants eked out the win.

Reed, Roy and Cohen led the Giants on the day with two hits apiece.  Reed scored two runs out of the leadoff spot and Roy paced the Giants with two RBIs.

Next up for the Giants is the first of four consecutive North Bay road contests – at Petaluma High on Wednesday February 26th. First pitch 3:30 pm.

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