Showing grit and character

Katie Brickman
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Express split double-header with Weyburn

In the last four days, the Moose Jaw Miller Express have played 42 innings.

Matt Collier of the Yorkton Cardinals slides into third base as Aiden Stinnent of the Moose Jaw Miller Express prepares for the throw from centre fielder Miles Hunter during Western Major Baseball League action on Saturday night at Ross Wells Park. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

On Sunday, they had to prove to coach Michael Hunt and to themselves what they were capable of on the diamond.

The team travelled to Weyburn to play in a double-header, both were seven innings, and they ended up with a split.

In the first game, the Express got ripped apart. The Beavers had 18 hits, compared to just six for the Express.

Ryan Johnson, starting pitcher for Weyburn, needed just 77 pitchers through the seven innings to help the Beavers get a 15-2 victory.

“They just hit the ball really well. They just flat-out beat us,” said Hunt. “This is the first game that I feel we have been flat out-matched and beat.”

A lot of things did not go well for the Express, as Weyburn scored in every inning. Rusty Edwards got the start on the mound and went 3 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs on 10 hits and struck out three. Connor Keating, Brendan Banerjee and Brennan Reidy also pitched in the loss.

The team had 45 minutes to quickly forget and move on as the second game still needed to be played.

Hunt posed some tough questions on his team: “The main point of our conversation was how to you answer?  Are we just going to roll over and give it to them or are we going to find a way to make adjustments?”

His team got redemption as they answered with a 5-1 victory over the Beavers, earning them an important split.

“We saw some really good things in that second game,” he said. “We got the answer I was hoping for and that was a lot of grit, a lot of heart and a lot of focus.”

Having both games go only seven innings rather than the full nine innings was also an adjustment the team had to make.

“In reality, you are starting in the third inning because they take two innings away,” stated Hunt. “It fast forwards a lot of things.”

Josh Janzen got the start in the second game, making his first start of the season. He has been a solid reliever coming out of the bullpen thus far, but impressed as a starter.

“(He brought) the same bulldog attitude that he brings when he is relieving. We knew we weren’t going to get a lot of pitches out of him. The first four innings, he was incredibly efficient and throwing first-pitch strikes, which is really good to get into those pitchers’ counts and not have to go deep,” said Hunt. “He battled and threw strikes and got some good quick innings. He was able to elongate his outing by being effective in that way.”

The Express won on Saturday 7-3 over Yorkton at Ross Wells Park. Terry McNabb went eight innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, walked one and struck out five.

“It was a bit of a war of attrition. It was back and forth and it was a relatively clean game,” said Hunt. “We just grinded out at-bats and Brennan Reidy had a big single to score a run that opened up the door. Dylan Hanson certainly kicked it open with a the home run.”

The team will have Monday off away from the diamond to recuperate and rest as they head into a five games in five-day stretch, starting Tuesday (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park) against Saskatoon.

“We have a great view of who we are and what we are capable of,” said Hunt. “We want to replicate that.”

Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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