Out at home

Matthew Gourlie
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Express drop second straight home game to Edmonton

The Moose Jaw Miller Express aren't going to play it safe.

Moose Jaw Miller Express second baseman Derek Cornell field a ground ball in WMBL action.

With two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing by a run, Express head coach Michael Hunt waved  Danny Lokesak around third base on a single. Lokesak was thrown out at home to end the game.

"I'll wheel him every day of the year. He's one of the fastest guys on our team. The centrefielder had to make a great throw and he did. The catcher had to pick the ball and he did," said Hunt after the Express' 8-7 loss to the Edmonton Prospects Friday night at Ross Wells Park. "It's just a case where the coin toss didn't go the way we wanted."

Lokesak gave the Express life with two out in the ninth when he battled through a long at-bat. He reached on a throwing error by Prospects third baseman Vinny Martin which allowed Lokesak to advance to second. Derek Cornell ripped a single up the middle, but Prospects centrefielder Trevor Meleski made a great throw home. The throw beat Cornell, but the Express base-runner argued that he beat the tag. The umpire wasn't swayed and the game ended.

It was far from a classic. Each team committed six errors as the wet conditions and some early-season sloppiness affected both sides.

"The grass was a little bit wet. That's why we bunted a few times early on too. The ball is wet and you never know what might happen," said Hunt. "It wasn't the cleanest game from both ends. We had some guys in different positions. I'm happy with what we saw today. I'm obviously not happy with the loss, but I'm happy with the effort we got out of everyone."

The Express scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7, but gave it back in the ninth inning.

Edmonton's Mackenzie Parlow reached on an error and then went from first to third on a wild pitch. Gray Symington drove Parlow home with a sacrifice fly. The Prospects loaded the bases thanks to a pair of walks, but Moose Jaw pitcher Jason Renner struck out two batters to end the inning and keep the Express' hope alive.

"You have to hand it Edmonton a little bit. They grinded back just like we did the last couple of days," said Express centrefielder Miles Hunter. "It was back-and-forth, but I thought we showed a lot of character. Guys here want to win and we want to win bad. A loss like this does hurt, but we showed a lot of character in the ninth and all of the way through to keep grinding."

The Express grabbed an early 2-0 lead and lead 4-3 after the fourth inning before the Prospects scored three in the fifth inning off of Jorge Pantoja who made his WMBL debut.

Dylan Pisio also made his WMBL debut behind home plate as both of the Express' platooning catchers — Dylan Hanson and Andrew Soloman — are injured.

"He did great. He did as well as we could have expected. He was seeing some guys he's never seen before, obviously not having caught any of these guys before. The effort we got out of him was monumental," said Hunt. "Our other two guys are banged up right now and he's our third option.

The Express (2-2) return to the field Tuesday when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Yellow Jackets.

"That 13 inning game we had (Wednesday) forced us to stretch some guys out. But knowing we had three days off. We really had to dig deep to find guys who could throw an inning or a batter or two — and we found that. The three days off will be nice for the arms."

Terry McNabb came in and pitched two innings of relief and struck out five batters. It was McNabb's third appearance in the Express' fourth game. He now has a WMBL-leading 19 strikeouts.

Aidan Stinnett stayed hot for Moose Jaw as he finished 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Cornell scored twice and had a pair of hits. Stinnett and Cornell each hit two doubles.

Hunter was 3-for-5 at the plate with a pair of RBI. He leads the WMBL with a .500 batting average early in the season.

"Getting some balls through holes feels good. I had some 0-2 pitches that ended up working out in my favour, so that's always great — especially early in the year," said Hunter.

Brandon Acosta gave up three earned runs over four innings in the start for the Express.

Zach Shelstad took the loss for the Express.

Bryce Shea allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings of relief for Edmonton to earn the win.

Extra bases… Stinnett's brother Jake Stinnett was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the 45th pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

Organizations: Chicago Cubs, Major League Baseball

Geographic location: Edmonton, Ross Wells Park, Moose Jaw Saskatoon

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