Brandon Cloverleafs pitcher Sean Dryden delivers to Reston Rockets batter Drew Haight during fourth inning MSBL action on Sunday evening at Andrews Field. The Cloverleafs won the game 7-6 and swept the best-of-five semifinal series. (COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN)
A ninth inning collapse ended the Reston Rockets’ hopes of repeating as Manitoba Senior Baseball League champions.
Jason Rae started and finished the Brandon Cloverleafs rally in the bottom of the final frame as they came back from a 6-1 deficit to beat the Rockets 7-6 and sweep the best-of-five semifinal Sunday night at Andrews Field.
In Sunday’s other game, the Neepawa Farmers completed their sweep of the Brandon Houstons Marlins with an 8-5 victory in Neepawa.
At Brandon, Rae led off the ninth with a walk, came around to score and then drove in Bryan Swaenepoel with his second at-bat of the inning to lift the Cloverleafs to the MSBL final.
"You want that chance to win the game, so whenever you get a chance to come up with a big hit, it’s nice," said Rae, who went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. "Everybody got on and gave us a chance. That’s all we can ask for."
The defending champion Rockets took control of the game right out of the gate.
They exploded for four runs in the first and added one more in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead.
Reston starter Cole Stober, who took the loss was solid on the mound, until the ninth.
He pitched 8 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs on 11 hits and three walks and struck out seven.
He gave way to Des Koop, who faced the final two batters.
This is the second straight game the Cloverleafs came from behind to beat the Rockets.
In Game 2 in Reston, the Rockets held an 8-2 advantage, but fell 10-8.
Reston manager Ross Tycoles said it’s hard to lose two games in that fashion, but he admits the Cloverleafs are a good team.
"It’s hard on the boys and it’s hard on me," he said.
"We thought we had games that we thought we could have won. I thought we had a pretty good game. We hit the ball. We did a lot of things right and just couldn’t get them out. They have a very good hitting ball club and that’s what happens."
Sean Dryden earned the win for Brandon.
Dryden pitched a complete game and allowed six runs on 11 hits while striking out three.
Kevin McNeill went 5-for-5 with two runs and one RBI for Brandon while Swaenepoel had a pair of hits, drove in two runs and scored once.
Drew Haight went 2-for-3 for Reston with one run and two RBIs while Andrew Lochhead went 2-for-5 with two runs.
Now that the Rockets are out of the way, the Cloverleafs are focusing on the Farmers, and they expect a tough series.
"We definitely have to keep hitting," Rae said.
"Our pitching has been great most of the year. I think we can match up with them well. They have a good team too."
Farmers 8 Marlins 5
At Neepawa, the Farmers grabbed a 4-1 lead in the third and never gave it up as they advanced to the league final.
Isaac Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs for Neepawa.
He also scattered four runs and nine hits in seven innings to pick up the win on the mound.
Greg Hockin pitched the final two innings to collect the save.
Paul Thompson took the loss after giving up six runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Patrick Vandoorne went 2-for-5, came around to score twice and drove in one other run for the Marlins.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 30, 2012