Thanks to arguably the best pitching staff in Cobb County, Marietta took care of both in 2013.
The biggest cog in the Blue Devils’ rotation was Gabe Friese. For the season, he went 7-3 with a 1.30 ERA in 75 1/3 innings pitched.
But perhaps the biggest thing Friese did was keep runners off the bases. He allowed only 52 hits and struck out 95 batters against 19 walks. That 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio is a big reason why he is being recruited by Kennesaw State, and it’s one of the factors why Friese is the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Baseball Pitcher of the Year.
“I told myself at the beginning of the year, we were going to go to the playoffs and challenge for a state championship,” Friese said.
Considering Marietta’s recent past, that’s a statement that normally wouldn’t have been taken seriously. No Blue Devils team had won more than 12 games since the program’s last winning season in 2006, but they started the 2013 season 12-3, climbed into the state rankings and challenged McEachern all season for the Region 4AAAAAA lead.
Marietta finished the season 22-9, sweeping Camden County in the opening round of the playoffs and taking East Coweta to three games in the second round.
Friese pitched the first game of the series with Camden County and shut the Wildcats down in a complete-game, one-hit shutout. While that game is firmly entrenched in his memory, a key region matchup earlier in the season is the one he remembers most.
“Probably the 13-inning game against Harrison is the one,” Friese said. “I pitched the first 10 innings and struck out 13.”
On April 15, Friese and Harrison’s Ben Schneiderjans hooked up in an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. They combined to strike out 29 batters, and while Friese wasn’t there in the end to earn the victory, the 3-1 Marietta victory proved to be the difference in the Blue Devils earning the region’s No. 2 seed.
When Friese takes the mound, he has three pitches to count on. His fastball ranges from 88-90 mph, and he can locate it where he wants. He also has a better-than-average changeup, and he features a curveball that breaks straight down.
It’s the changeup and curveball that Friese considers to be his “out” pitches.
“I use them in key situations,” he said.
And how effective are they?
“Every time I throw them, they miss.”