Even when Anthony Friesen isn’t at his best, the Brandon Cloverleafs pitcher can be pretty good.
The Brandon Marlins found that out on Tuesday night at Andrews Field when they were blanked 3-0 by Friesen and the Cloverleafs in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Manitoba Senior Baseball League final.
Friesen, who hadn’t pitched in nearly three weeks, due in part to his recent wedding, held the Marlins to only four hits, walking three and striking out six.
"I struggled a bit; I started walking guys and then I found the zone and went back to work," the lefty said.
"I was getting a lot of ground balls. Usually I’m more of a strikeout, flyball kind of guy, but it’s good for the defence. The defence played really good behind me."
Marlins starter Jesse Goertzen was no slouch either, pitching seven innings of four-hit ball and allowing three runs, two of them earned. He walked two batters and fanned six.
But the Cloverleafs managed to scratch out enough offence to get by, scoring one run in the first inning and two more in the sixth.
"Especially … the sixth," Friesen said. "You know, bunt the guy over, flyball, a sac fly scored him. Small ball. That’s my kind of baseball I like to see."
Derek Chapman had two hits, a run scored and a stolen base for the Cloverleafs, while teammate Matt Gunning doubled and drove in a run.
Nolan Jago was the most dangerous Marlin, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base. Marlins manager Jeff Wiebe said his team had some decent at-bats but needs to string some hits together to top the Cloverleafs, who have won five of the last eight MSBL titles.
"We’re the younger team here, so we’re the one that has to probably get used to the final," said Wiebe, whose Marlins will face the Cloverleafs again on Friday (Andrews Field, 7 p.m.) "Right now it’s a new thing to a lot of guys so maybe there was a little bit of nerves today, but hopefully we can get it under our belts. Best-of-seven, we haven’t played one of those in a long time, so there’s still a lot of baseball left."