They say to be the best you have to beat the best.
If the Moose Jaw Miller Express are going to beat the best they’re going to have to be better than they were Monday.
The Express gave up 13 unanswered runs in a 13-1 loss to Regina Red Sox in Game 1 of their best-of-five Western Major Baseball League East Final series.
“It wasn’t great. It wasn’t errors or anything like that, they just found a lot of holes. They had some funky swings and found gaps. They had some legit hits and they had some not-so-legit ones. They just got way more than we did,” said Express head coach Michael Hunt.
The Red Sox had the best regular season record in the WMBL and are the reigning champions.
They showed why at Currie Field as they combined relentless offence, a great pitching performance and faultless defence for a comprehensive win.
Game 2 is tonight (7 p.m., Currie Field) before the series shifts to Moose Jaw Wednesday and Thursday, if necessary.
The Express got off to a good start and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Kevin Gratza led off the game with a double and Logan Lippert drove him home with a single.
The Express only managed two more hits in the next seven innings before they left the bases loaded in the ninth.
Daniel Eaton, a big lefty from Georgia, struck out nine batters in a complete-game victory. He allowed seven hits and didn’t walk a single batter.
“We put a lot of balls in play, but it wasn’t with a whole lot of authority,” said Hunt. “There’s no excuses, no blame to go around. We just didn’t have a lot of offensive punch.”
That wasn’t a problem for the Red Sox. Randy Ramirez tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. Ramirez would end up scoring five times.
Daniel Bick was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and three RBI. Jeremy Donaldson also drove in three runs for the Sox in a 2-for-4 day. Mitch MacDonald was also 2-for-4 at the plate and added two runs and two RBI.
Connor Lillis-White made his first start of the playoffs for the Express and allowed 11 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up 10 hits and walked five batters.