Errors undermine Express in pitcher's duel

Matthew Gourlie
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The Moose Jaw Miller Express are hoping some home cooking will do them some good.

Terry McNabb pitches for the Moose Jaw Miller Express in action from earlier this season.

Facing a right-handed pitcher would be a nice change as well.

Two errors led to a three-run fourth inning for the Okotoks Dawgs who beat the Express 4-3 Thursday night.

The Express finished 1-4 on their five game road trip, but return home tonight to host the Medicine Hat Mavericks (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park) in the first of a two-game weekend series.

Express ace Terry McNabb (6-1) lost this first game of the season as he allowed two earned runs over seven innings. He surrendered eight hits and struck out six batters.

"That's what happens when you don't play clean baseball against quality teams. We got the regular effort and outing out of Terry. We didn't play clean baseball in that fourth inning and that was the tale of the tape," said Express head coach Michael Hunt.

The Dawgs got on the board in the first inning before a pair of Dawgs singles and a pair of errors from the Express' middle infielders led to a three-run inning to put the Dawgs up 4-0.

Dawgs starter Tyrell King had allowed four hits in seven innings when the Express finally got going. Derek Cornell and Miles Hunter both singled and Frank Pluskota reached on an error that allowed Cornell to score. Ben Douglas hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Hunter to cut the lead in half.

In the ninth inning Brennan Reidy earned a lead-off walk and pinch runner Drew Danzeisen came around to score on a Cornell single. Hunter hit a two-out single to put two men on base, but Pluskota grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.

"We saw some tough, tough pitching — especially starting lefties — in the last few games and they kept us at bay a little bit," said Hunt. "If we can get a guy's pitch count up and get him out, it's anyone's ball game. We have a lot of guys who can swing it."

It was the fifth straight left-handed pitcher that the Express has faced on their road trip. Hunt doesn't feel his team has an issue hitting left-handed pitching, rather it has been the quality of the pitchers that has caused them problems at the plate.

They lost to Lethbridge's Scott Cone and Swift Current's Sean Callegari earlier in the trip. Both pitchers are 3-0 and Cone has the second-lowest ERA in the WMBL and Callegari's is fifth best. King's record is also 3-0 and his ERA is an impressive 2.20.

"We've seen good, good lefties. Three of the guys we've seen on this trip will be getting my vote for the left-handed pitchers come all-star time. They're quality guys. It's not just because of what they did against us, but their body of work has been pretty stinking good this year," said Hunt.

Geographic location: Ross Wells Park, Lethbridge, Swift Current

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