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Redwood baseball stuns Drake to win MCAL championship in extra-innings

Under Friday night lights at Albert Park, the fifth-seeded Redwood varsity baseball team pulled off an upset to beat the first-seeded Drake team 4-1 in eight innings to win the MCAL championship.

Junior Robbie Wilson started the game for Redwood, pitching three strong shutout innings. Wilson struggled at first, walking the first two hitters, but was able to work his way out of the jam. In the third inning he was able to get out of another tight spot when he got Drake’s Eric Woodrow to pop out in foul territory with the bases loaded to end the inning.

By the third inning, the stands were completely filled with students from both schools, and the tension was high throughout the entire game.

The Giants storm the field after winning the MCAL championship
The Giants storm the field after winning the MCAL championship.

Senior Ollie Pearson came in to relieve Wilson in the bottom of the fourth and pitched the final five innings. He immediately let up a single to Drake’s Mark Graham that drove in a run, breaking up the shutout. After that, though, Pearson was dominant for the rest of the game. He struck out ten hitters and gave up only two more hits.

“I had to get my mindset to be focused early on because after the first three batters I had to go down to the bullpen. I just got in the zone,” Pearson said.

Offensively, the Giants were shut down by Drake’s starting pitcher Ryan McLaughlin. In five innings, he struck out six and only gave up two hits.

Going into the sixth inning, Redwood knew that they were running out of time to score. After senior Dane Goodman hit a single, senior Mackie Skall blasted another single to left field off of McLaughlin. Goodman rounded third base and sprinted home, but was thrown out at the plate by Woodrow. Despite the Giants’ energy beginning to falter, junior Jack Morken smoked a double to the fence to score Skall. This, according to Coach Mike Firenzi, was the turning point in the game.

“We got shot in the foot when we lost a guy at home plate and the momentum seemed to die. I think the big shot was when Morken blasted that ball into the gap. We believed that we could beat them when that happened,” Firenzi said.

After seven innings of dominant pitching from both sides, the game was tied 1-1. With the game on the line, it went into extra-innings.

Senior Mackie Skall crushes the ball for a double to score the go-ahead run
Senior Mackie Skall crushes the ball for a double to score the go-ahead run.

Drake pulled McLaughlin after his seven-inning riveting performance, and the Giants took advantage instantly. McLaughlin’s reliever Eamonn Lance walked Goodman. Lance was then replaced by Sam Gaebe, who walked senior Josh Cohen. Right afterwards Skall smashed a clutch double off Gaebe to the left-center gap, driving in Goodman.

“Coach was telling me to think right-center, and when the pitcher threw me a first pitch slider, I knew I could drive that ball. I visualized left-center field, and I was thinking that I wasn’t going anywhere but there,” Skall said.

The Giants added two more runs that inning with singles from Morken and junior Jackson Barry.

In a dramatic finish, Pearson closed the game in the bottom of the eighth by striking out the last two batters. The Redwood dugout cleared as the team stormed towards the pitcher’s mound. They surrounded Pearson on the field as they celebrated their first MCAL championship since 2015.

Seniors Ollie Pearson and Mackie Skall celebrate after striking out a Drake batter for the win
Seniors Ollie Pearson and Mackie Skall celebrate after striking out a Drake batter for the win.

“We grinded it out, and even though it was a little shaky at first, this whole year we’ve battled adversity so it seemed like another one in the books. This was my first varsity championship so it’s amazing to have that pennant at the end,” Pearson said.

Skall believed that Redwood’s desire and motivation helped them win the championship.

“We were the underdogs. We knew what we needed to do though, and we were hot and fired up. We wanted Tam, and we got them and beat them. We wanted Drake after they beat us, and we got them and beat them,” Skall said. “We got all of the negative energy off of the team and we just played baseball.”

For Firenzi, this win was especially significant.

“What makes this team special is that this was the first group when I took over the program four years ago when they were freshmen. So to see them blossom to win a championship is outstanding,” Firenzi said.

Redwood hopes to continue their recent success in the North Coast Sections playoffs, starting on Wednesday, May 23.

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About the Contributor
Drake Goodman
Drake Goodman, Former Staff
Drake Goodman is a senior at Redwood High School and is an Editor-in-Chief for The Redwood Bark. He is also the founder of the non-profits "Recycle for Africa" and "Junior Dec My Room." He enjoys playing baseball for his high school as well as being an attorney for the Mock Trial Team and delegate for the Model United Nations Team at Redwood.