The Brandon Cloverleaf batters looked unstoppable as they exploded for eight runs in a three-inning span on Thursday at Andrews Field and secured a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Manitoba Senior Baseball League final.
The Cloverleafs struck for two runs in the third and three in the fourth and fifth before hanging on for an 8-6 victory of the Brandon Marlins, who finished one point behind them for first in the regular season.
Travis Jean led the way for the Cloverleafs during the middle innings, hitting an RBI single in the fourth and driving in two more with a double in the fifth. He also scored twice and stole a base for the Cloverleafs, who lit up Marlins starter Jesse Goertzen for five runs in four innings of work.
"It just kind of clicked," Jean said. "You get that special moment and it just clicks and everybody follows suit. It definitely felt great, there’s no doubt about that. I think everybody jumped on board with it and rode it as long as we could."
Shayne MacGranachan took over for Goertzen, who was tagged with the loss, but he couldn’t find the strike zone. MacGranachan walked six batters in 2 1/3 innings and giving up three more runs.
It was a disappointing result for the Marlins, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning courtesy of a triple by Tanner Jago that drove in a pair of runs and Patrick Vandoorne’s fielder’s choice that brought home Jago.
They rallied for three more in the seventh when Vandoorne hit a two-run triple and later came around to score, but that’s as close as the Marlins got.
The Cloverleafs sent Anthony Friesen to the mound and he retired the final five batters to pick up the save.
"Our pitcher just didn’t have his game today and that happens sometimes," Marlins manager Jeff Wiebe said. "We don’t have a ton of relief, so it just didn’t work in our favour today. We scored six runs, which in this series has generally been good enough to win, but you have to give them credit, they hit the ball well tonight."
Zach Steckler went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI for the Cloverleafs, while Derek Chapman and Jason Rae both singled and had two RBIs.
Sean Dryden went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out five, to get the win.
The Cloverleafs will get their first opportunity to claim the MSBL crown on Saturday at Andrews Field at 7 p.m., and Jean likes his team’s chances.
"Just keep hitting as a team. Put hits together instead of spacing them out," he said. As long as our pitching gives us a chance, I think we’ll come out."
If necessary, Game 7 will be played at Andrews Field on Sunday at 7 p.m.