With clear skies overhead, the Redwood junior varsity baseball team secured a close win over Tamalpais High School (Tam) after taking an early 2-run lead on March 27. The Giants held their lead for the rest of the game and won 4-3.
The Giants fired up the offense in the first inning, when junior first basemen Ryan Jessen hit a fly ball single with the bases loaded, resulting in sophomore Matt Birchenough scoring from third base. Tam immediately followed the Redwood score by picking Jessen off at first, yet Jessen managed to distract the defense long enough for sophomore Matt Smallbach to score.
Throughout the next four innings, Redwood was able to hold their 2-0 lead. This was possible in part by impressive defensive stops by sophomore third basemen Jesse Gassman and starting pitcher Lucas Roy. Roy was struck by a line drive in the third inning, but jumped up and made a diving play to toss out Tam left fielder Stefan Lemme.
“I was kind of surprised when it first hit me –like whoa, what just happened. Then I realized that the ball might be around me somewhere, and I looked around and saw it so I just went and tried to get the out,” Roy said.
Later in the fourth inning, Gassman also made a key play for Redwood, turning an inning ending double play to clear the bases. Roy was afterward replaced after holding Tam to zero runs in four innings of work.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Redwood’s offense got hot again, scoring another two runs on one walk and a line drive single up the middle by Jessen, pushing Redwood’s lead to 4-0 with just three innings left to play.
In the top of the fifth inning, sophomore Ben Rafner entered the game as an relief pitcher, but immediately found trouble as Tam’s offense finally awakened. Rafner hit one batter and allowed two hits, all of which rounded the bases and tallied the score up to 4-3.
Redwood’s head coach Billy Jack Ryan mentioned that Rafner’s nerves were a one time thing, and it shouldn’t happen again.
“He said he felt a little uncomfortable on the mound, probably because it’s been a little while since he’s been out there, but he was able to bounce back and get the job done,” Ryan said.
After Rafner left the game, Coach Ryan put hard-throwing closer Gassman in from third base to finish the game off, in which he was able to end the game by striking out the batter with a curveball.
Redwood’s JV Baseball Team will look to continue their five game win streak on Tues, April 4 against Novato High School.