A chilly night at Andrews Field did little to cool the redhot Brandon A&W Junior Marlins on Wednesday.
The Marlins built up a 3-0 lead in the second inning and cruised to a 6-4 victory over the St. Boniface Legionaires in a Manitoba Junior Baseball League contest.
On a windy night with a high of just 7 C, the Marlins (4-0) received a pair of hits and two runs batted in from Dylan Haney, while Clark Whelpton earned the victory on the mound.
Manager Brad Schoonbaert was happy overall with his team’s effort against the Legionaires (1-3).
"That was an incredibly cold, windy night and the attention span of both teams showed," he said. "A few balls were booted around but hey, we had enough attention to get the job done."
The strong wind on the cool night was a factor at times. In the top of the second, Michael Fournier’s well-hit ball sailed over the head of centre fielder Aaron Pugh for a two-out double, although Clark Whelpton struck out the next batter to eliminate the threat.
The Marlins broke the deadlock with three runs in the bottom of the second. After Jordan Foote reached base on an infield error and stole second, Riley Shamray’s drive to right field flew over the head of outfielder Jackson Mortimer for a triple.
Haney then doubled to deep left field to drive in Shamray. After stealing third, Haney scored on a passed ball.
The Marlins gave most of it back in the top of the third.
A throwing error on an attempted pickoff at first gave Liam Greer two free bases, and Mike Holmes walked to put runners at the corners with two out. When catcher Braden McKay stroked a single to centre field that was mishandled, both runners scored and McKay stood on second.
Pugh made a nice catch in centre field on a long flyball to end the rally.
The Marlins got a run back in the bottom of the inning after Holmes took over from St. Boniface starting pitcher Fournier. Kyle Johnston walked, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Skylar Canada managed to foul off several pitches before finding one he liked. He sent a drive deep enough to centre to score Johnston on the sacrifice fly.
When Foote walked next, he stole second and scored when the Legionaires were unable to gun out Bradley Schoonbaert on his lazy infield single. Successive singles by Shamray and Haney drove in Schoonbaert.
When the dust cleared, the Marlins had scored three runs on three singles and two walks to give them a 6-2 lead after three innings.
The Marlins turned a slick double play with two on and one out in the top of the fifth inning when Whelpton fielded a sharply hit ground ball and sent it over to Schoonbaert, who quickly made the throw to Canada at first.
After retiring the first batter in the bottom of the sixth, the next four St. Boniface batters reached base on two singles and two errors, and the Marlins were fortunate to hold the Legionaires to two runs, making it 6-4.
The Legionaires threatened again in the top of the seventh, putting the winning run at the plate after Pugh hit a batter and Whelpton struggled on an infield shot, but a fly ball ended the evening.
"Definitely the ball was flying in the air today but we seemed to get her done and capitalize when we had runners in scoring position," Haney said. "It’s good."
PASSED BALLS: Whelpton struck out four and gave up two runs on five hits in four innings in earning the victory … Foote earned the save by pitching a scoreless seventh inning… Pugh and Foote each struck out one batter … The Marlins continue to be without American college players Mitchell Lyall, Marshal Burgess and Jay Pringle, who will return soon.