Express bounce back

Katie Brickman
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Pluskota three-run HR powers team to win

Snapping a skid always feels better when done against a division rival.

Josh Johnson of the Swift Current Indians slides into second base, beating the throw and tag from Drew Danzeisen of the Moose Jaw Miller Express on Friday night at Ross Wells Park. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

Brandon Acosta and Frank Pluskota helped the Moose Jaw Miller Express stop a two-game losing streak on Friday night.

Pluskota’s three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game and allowed the Express (7-5) to squeeze out a 6-5 victory over the Swift Current Indians (5-6) in Western Major Baseball League action.

“To be honest, I don’t even remember what pitch it was. I was just in the zone,” said Pluskota of the drive. “I just wanted to hit the ball hard and maybe spark the team a little bit. Next thing you know, I tied the game with it.”

The Express got production out of their whole line up, with only one batter not registering a hit at Ross Wells Park.

Austin Russell scored the game-winning RBI with a sac fly in the eighth inning.

Acosta had a strong outing for his second win of the season. He pitched eight innings, giving up five runs on 11 hits, walked one and struck out seven on 114 pitches.

Jorge Pantoja made his fifth appearance of the season and picked up his first save. He faced five Indians batters and got Matt Spillman looking at a called third strike for the final out. He fist pumped and walked off the mound as the Express celebrated the win.

“Acosta pitched a great game over eight strong innings and saved our bullpen since we have a bunch of games coming up,” said Pluskota. “Jorge came in and just shut the door, which awesome.”

Acosta got help behind him defensively as well as a solid game caller in 17-year-old catcher Cole Warken.

Warken is an affiliated player (AP) with the Express this summer, but has had to step into the role of catcher along with Dylan Hanson.

“The first few games were hard to get used to, but after that, it got better and I slowly progressed,” said Warken of playing with collegiate level players.

Warken has played in four games thus far this summer and has four hits and got his first RBI on Friday, which boosted his confidence a bit.

“It does, but every day is a new day,” he said. “I will take that into the next day to build on it.”

Warken called the game with Acosta on the mound and both were effective in keeping the Swift Current batters off-balance.

“He was consistent with his off-speed. He is not one of those guys that will over-power people — he will get guys out with his off-speed pitches,” explained Warken.

This was back-to-back close games for the Express. As much as it can be nerve-racking for the coaches and fans, the players love these types of games.

“This is what we live for as baseball players,” said Pluskota. “We love having it come down to the wire and see what we are made of when we have to come out big. They are fun to play in.”

The Express are back in action tonight (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park) when Yorkton is in town. They head to Weyburn on Sunday for a double-header.

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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