Express can't capitalize on fast start

Matthew Gourlie
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Seven-run, two-out rally paces Edmonton to 12-7 win

The Moose Jaw Miller Express blew a big lead and still won Wednesday.

Danny Lokesak makes a diving catch in right field for the Moose Jaw Miller Express Thursday against the Edmonton Prospects in WMBL action.

They couldn't pull off the same feat twice.

The Express raced out to a 4-0 first inning lead and we're up 6-2 when the Edmonton Prospects scored seven runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Prospects hung on for a 12-7 win in Western Major Baseball League action at Ross Wells Park.

"We struggled with runners in scoring position while they flourished. All of their hits weren't all hard hits, but they found the holes," said Express third baseman Aidan Stinnett. "We let up on the guys and it came back to bite us."

The loss was the first of the season for the Express. The two teams will meet again tonight (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park).

Derek Cornell and Austin Russell scored before Andrew Soloman hit a two-run home run as the Express grabbed a 4-0 lead after the first. Stinnett hit a two-run home run in the fourth to put the Express ahead 6-1.

"It certainly seemed like we took our foot off the gas," said Express head coach Michael Hunt.

It was 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Cornell hit his second lead-off double of the game for Moose Jaw. The Express loaded the bases with none out, but Emilio Foden came out of the bullpen for the Prospects and got Edmonton out of the jam unscathed with a pair of strikeouts and a fly ball.

"We were fortunate. Our pitcher made some good pitches and that helped us (get out of jams). Luckily we got some good pitches to hit in that inning when we scored a bunch of runs and we hit the ball hard," said Edmonton head coach Ray Brown.

The in the top of the sixth, the Prospects loaded the bases with two outs and ended up scoring seven runs to take a 9-6 lead.

Mackenzie Parlow hit a little flare to left field that dropped between three Express fielders to score two runs. That hit was fortunate, but the Prospects three straight doubles to propel them into the lead.

Rusty Edwards had been cruising on the mound for the Express, but after Derek Shedden doubled off the wall the Moose Jaw bullpen scrambled into action. Edwards was quickly pulled after Drake Biggins' double gave Edmonton a 7-6 lead. Connor Keating came in and gave up a double to Trevor Meleski. Edmonton had a couple of bloopers drop in to add to the damage.

"(Edwards) started to lose a little bit of a control and we had to make the change. He had a great 5 1/3 inning, but he just lost it a little bit at the end," said Hunt. "Hindsight is 20-20. You don't expect that stuff to happen with two outs. You just have to find a ground ball. It's game 3, we're still trying to find out what guys are made of. You roll the dice and sometimes it doesn't work out."

Ten of Edmonton's 12 runs came with two out in an inning.

The Express loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Russell hit into a double-play to end the inning. It was the only blemish on Russell's night. He finished 3-for-4 for the Express.

"Those are key situations to try to score runs — especially with less than two out — and we'll be in those situations again. The guys know what is expected of them and the outcome will be different," said Hunt whose team didn't have a single two-out run on the night.

The Express also stranded 11 runners on base.

Miles Hunter was 2-for-3 for the Express and Stinnett and Soloman each had two hits to go along with their two RBI.

Edwards took the loss, while Foden earned the win.

Noah Woody hit a solo home run for Edmonton.

The Prospects lost 20 straight games to close out of the season in 2013. They're 3-2 so far this season and are riding a three-game winning streak.

"We're trying to bring a different attitude into our team. We're trying to make it more of a professional approach," said Brown. "We want to put the best guys out there and if you want to play you're going to have to beat someone out of a job. I think last year the coach was more accommodating and let everyone play. I want everyone to play, but I want the best guys to play more."

Organizations: Western Major Baseball League, 20-20

Geographic location: Edmonton, Ross Wells Park, Moose Jaw

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