GLIDE — Like so many siblings their age, Brenden and Jacob Fricke are still working on moving their relationship from a state of constant torture to a place of common ground — not that they’re in any kind of hurry to do so.
One spends his free time playing video games and is quick to tease and say whatever is on his mind. The other would rather be outside and is more economical with his words and serious about his studies.
“If you ask anyone that knows us, we’re total opposites,” Jacob says.
They do share a few things, at least. A mom and a dad, for example, and an acute ability to get out opposing batters for the Glide High baseball team.
The brothers are two of several reasons the Wildcats are the top-ranked team in the Class 3A ranks and mowing down their regular season schedule with a record of 15-1. They are hardest to discern on the stat sheet, which reveals that they’ve combined to hold opponents to 10 earned runs in 55 innings pitched while also sharing duties at first base.
Brenden Fricke, a senior right-hander, comes at hitters over the top and is the harder thrower of the two. He’s been a staple on the mound for Glide and Dr. Stewart’s for a few years, but has never looked more dominant: In 35 innings he has a 0.80 ERA with 30 strikeouts and eight walks.
Jacob Fricke, a sophomore lefty who, at 6-foot-4, just passed up Brenden within the last year, exercises an arm slot that is closer to sidearm and an approach that aims for precision. He’s catching on fast, too: In 20 innings of work, he has a 2.10 ERA and 33 strikeouts while issuing five walks and limiting opponents to a .159 batting average.
The proximity in numbers isn’t lost on them.
“They’re always competing with each other,” said their mother, Julie Fricke, who is Glide High’s volleyball coach. “They definitely know; they keep track of who has more strikeouts and who does what, but they’re supportive of each other at the same time.”
That has been the case ever since their father, Dave, started honing their pitching deliveries as youngsters.
Said Brenden: “I like to flick (Jacob) some crap when something doesn’t go right, but he’ll do the same thing back to me. That’s just the way it’s always been for us.”
In accordance with the role of older brother, Brenden has proven more likely to start the flame wars. He’s the louder one, the one who has a proclivity to feeding off of emotion during the game and picking up his Xbox controller when it’s over.
Without question, this has been his strongest season. His progression at the plate has amounted to a .418 batting average, nine extra-base hits and 27 RBIs. This fall he’ll attend and play baseball at junior-college powerhouse Feather River College in Quincy, Calif.
“I think in the past, Brenden might have let the moment get the best of him sometimes and it affected the way he pitched or approached an at-bat,” Glide coach Al Skinner said after he defeated Sutherlin on April 2. “You don’t really see that anymore, though. He’s much more confident and in control when he’s out there.”
Watching Brenden’s path hasn’t hurt his more reserved younger brother, either. Though they readily admit to not spending much of their free time together, the influence is undeniable.
“He’s gotten me on the right track, just watching him go through it,” Jacob said. “I think I was pretty nervous about the varsity experience last year, but Brenden and all the other seniors have helped me get more confident. There’s less pressure now and I know how to deal with it.”
The same applies at home, too, but in a slightly different manner.
“I think it’s more of a what not-to-do kind of thing,” Brenden joked. “It’s kind of a, ‘Don’t do that — you’ll get in trouble with mom,’ or ‘Dad doesn’t like this.’”
Whatever the dynamic, the brothers remain a match on the field. Just this week, as Glide won its 11th and 12th straight games, Jacob threw four scoreless innings against Douglas and Brenden tossed a four-hit shutout against Gold Beach.
“I’m probably enjoying this season more than they are, just because I realize I’m not going to get to have this experience of having my kids on the same team again,” Julie Fricke said. “I think they’ll realize how special it is, too, eventually. I don’t want it to end.”
Brenden Fricke isn’t the only Glide senior putting up video-game numbers for a team that is collectively batting .365 this season. Brandon Halter (.455), Zach Rose (.442) and Jake Livingston (.396) are the Wildcats’ other leaders in hits.
Halter has an on-base percentage of .500, leads the Wildcats with 23 runs scored and has five doubles and three triples. He’s also doing it on the mound, racking up 24 strikeouts compared to two walks in 19 innings, leading to a microscopic 0.74 ERA.
Rose leads the team with a .712 slugging percentage, is getting on base at a .508 clip and has smacked two home runs — just missing the cycle Tuesday against Gold Beach. Livingston, meanwhile, has posted a .476 OBP with 21 hits.
The Wildcats, who have shut out their last five opponents, host Cascade Christian at 4:30 p.m. Friday before playing their first Sunset Hybrid game against their only league opponent, Bandon, on Tuesday.
• You can reach sports reporter Josh McDermott at 541-957-4219, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.