Express lose close game in extras

Katie Brickman
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Team back in action tonight against Swift Current

The Moose Jaw Miller Express made it interesting, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Josh Janzen of the Moose Jaw Miller Express was solid in relief of starting pitcher Tanner Spencer on Thursday evening against the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets at Ross Wells Park. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

Derek Cornell singled in the bottom of the 10th inning and Austin Russell, who would have been the winning run, stood in for the pitch. Cornell leaned a little too far and was picked off diving back into first.

He slammed his fist and helmet into the ground in frustration and disappointment.

That was the third out of the inning and the end of the game, resulting in a 9-8 loss for the Express (6-5) to the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets (4-7) at Ross Wells Park.

“Any time you lose against a division team, especially a team that we’ve already taken two from, it hurts,” said Michael Hunt, head coach of the Express.

The Express started off strong, scoring two runs in the first inning, but then they couldn’t find the holes.

“We thought we had a pretty good beat on him (Dylan Hendricks) in the first inning, but just like good at-bats are contagious, bad at-bats are as well. We lost our approach in the middle innings,” said Miles Hunter of the Express.

Tanner Spencer struggled in his second start of the season for the Express. He allowed four runs on three hits and walked four through four innings. He had 70 pitches, but only 32 were strikes.

Hunt called upon Josh Janzen to help keep his team in the game and he answered the call, going three strong innings, giving up just one hit, one walk and struck out three.

“Janzen was huge to come out after a short start from Tanner and chew up three innings,” said Hunt.

The Yellow Jackets were able to get on the board and build a bit of a lead on the Express in the middle innings.

It wasn’t until the ninth inning that it looked like the Yellow Jackets would be able to steal a win from the Express’ clasp after capitalizing on errors.

Saskatoon scored three in the top of the ninth inning, including a Bronson Larson home run off Zach Shelstad.

The Express were down by five heading into their final inning.

Eleven batters came to the plate and a single by Danny Lokesak and a double by Cornell had the Express within range. A single by Hunter tied the game. The Yellow Jackets intentionally walked Frank Pluskota to load the bases, but the inning ended tied after Ben Douglas grounded out.

“It is a definitely a double-edged sword,” said Hunter. “When you give them extra runs in the top of the ninth when we maybe shouldn’t have given them. We put ourselves in a bit of a tough situation, but we did show some character to battle back.”

The game headed to extras, but Bryan Heward didn’t waste much time, hitting a solo shot to give the Yellow Jackets back the lead.

The Express tried their best, but a mistake on the bases cost them a chance at winning in the 10th inning.

“It is a bittersweet taste in your mouth when you end up on the losing side of it,” said Hunter.

With back-to-back losses now, the Express will try and stop the streak tonight (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park) against Swift Current.

“The best thing is that we play today,” said Hunter. “We don’t have to stew on it or think about it for too long.”

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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