HELENA -- Gabe Friese had another big outing on the plate, treating fans to a strong six innings of baseball on the final home game of the season, but the Missoula Osprey spoiled it, winning 6-4 on Tuesday.
“Friese the last three or four innings has been really, really good,” Brewers manager Nestor Corredor said. “If we don’t have pitch limit, he might go all the way. He did good. He finished his season in a strong way. It’s a good taste and a bad taste at the same time. Good one because the kid finished strong and put a really good season combined. Bad because he came too late, I would say.”
Friese pitched six scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two while walking one. By the time he exited the game, the Brewers (27-45) held a 2-0 lead thanks to a strong fifth inning.
Jose Gomez stroked a line drive down the left field line to drive in two runs in the bottom of the fifth and give the Brewers a 2-0 lead in the game.
Cody Beckman came in as relief and things went south for the Brewers. In his one inning of work, he gave up four hits and three earned runs, striking out two and walking one.
The Osprey (36-36) took the lead in the top of the seventh. Ernie Da La Trinidad was hit by a pitch to get on base. Gavin Stupienski doubled and scored De La Trinidad. Francis Martinez hit a RBI single. Then Eduardo Diaz singled and drove in a run.
Missoula packed more on in the top of the eighth. Stupienski doubled on a fly ball off the wall to score two runs, and Martinez singled on a line drive to score another.
The Brewers had a semblance of life in the bottom of the eighth. Antonio Pinero worked long into a count before singling. Then, KJ Harrison smacked his 10th home run of the season, to cut the deficit to 6-4. With no outs in the inning and two runs the board, the Brewers were poised for a big inning. Three batters later, the Brewers went trailing into the ninth.
It was the end of the home schedule for the Brewers at Kindrick Legion Field, a place Corredor said fit his team perfectly. For all it quirks, and for its sometimes lacking attendance, Kindrick Legion served the Brewers well, Corredor said.
“The field played perfect for our team,” Corredor said. “We got guys with not much speed. We got guys with some potential power. The field play really good for us. People probably don’t believe this, but we don’t bring that many, many fans. But we feel like we need to put a show for the guys showing up every day. The kids appreciate that. They play a lot better at home. They like Helena. They look like they enjoy hitting at this field.”
Corredor showed his passion for the game and the field earlier in the day, taking a few swings of the bat in practice. When asked why he hit today, he laughed, and noted it was just a “couple of rounds to get some memories back.”
“I was 2 for 10,” he said. “I hit two balls out of the ball park. I feel miserable afterward. It was fun.”
Even in a down season for the Brewers, Corredor has remained resolute in his player development. Hitting in practice, he said, showed players that managing isn’t just a job for him and his staff. They truly care about the nuances of the game, the wins and losses, and every aspect of being a professional.
“Sometimes, you need to prove to the players you enjoy what you do,” Corredor said. “If they understand we enjoy being their coaches, they’re probably going to play better and they feel the need to respect that from the coaches. If we take this as a job I don’t think they are going to motivate as much as we can. When we doing some stuff that remind them that we were players before, they appreciate that.”
The loss eliminates the Brewers from playoff contention. Great Falls and Billings are tied atop the standings, fighting for the last playoff.
Helena plays its final four games in Billings.
“Finish strong and try to make Billings feel a little uncomfortable,” Corredor said. “Our goal is to go out every day and compete and do the best we can. They need to fight for that because those stats are going to be in the baseball reference for the rest of their lives.”