Express split weekend series
The Moose Jaw Miller Express came home Sunday night tired, but happy.
Moose Jaw Miller Express
There is a lot of baseball left to play in the Western Major Baseball League season, but the Express earned an important split in Saskatoon this weekend.The Express beat the Yellow Jackets 5-4 Sunday night after losing 9-4 on Saturday and finished their four-game road trip with a 3-1 record.
"(Saturday) ended up being a tougher road game because of our later arrival from Medicine Hat, but we played four games on the road and we won three of them, it was certainly a good trip for us," said Miller Express head coach Michael Hunt.
The Express are now 1.5 games behind Swift Current in the Central Division, but at 18-14 have the fourth-best record in the WMBL and are 5.5 ahead of Saskatoon.
Swift Current has won five straight games and eight of their last nine as they have surged into the division lead.
The Express will host the East Division-leading Regina Red Sox Tuesday (7 p.m., Ross Wells Park).
"They're playing well, they bolstered their lineup with a couple of late ads and we just have to try to keep pace and hopefully take advantage when they do drop a few," said Hunt.
Express 5 Yellow Jackets 4
It only took one big inning for the Express to turn the game into their favour.
The Express had managed four hits and four walks through six innings off of Jackets starter Steven Latos, but finally broke through in the seventh when they scored five runs.
"We ground out at-bats — we had guys on all game — and it all came together in that seventh inning," said Hunt who was ejected in the first inning.
Cole Warken walked and Brady Rogers got on base thanks to an error. Danny Lokesak and Derek Cornell singled and then Austin Russell hit a two-run single to end Latos' night and tie the game at 3-3. Ben Douglas put them ahead with an RBI single and Frank Pluskota drove in another run.
Todd Leavitt gave up one earned run and eight hits in seven innings and earned the win. Josh Janzen gave up a run in the eight, but held the lead.
With Jason Renner unavailable to fill the closer role, Jorge Pantoja came in and struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn the save.
"Jorge came in and did exactly what we need Jorge to do," said Hunt. "It's really nice to have options. Renner was unavailable, but that's the beauty of having two closers."
Renner will get the start Tuesday as he fills Tanner Spencer's role in the starting rotation. Spencer is coming off of Tommy John surgery and Hunt is trying to be judicious with the amount of inning he pitches during this stage of the season.
"Spencer only has 45 innings for the summer and we're running out of innings for him," said Hunt. "It's a Tommy John timeline and we're locked into that."
Cornell was 3-for-5 at the plate and Lokesak was 3-for-4.
Yellow Jackets 9 Express 4
The Jackets led 7-1 after four innings and cruised to the 9-4 win
It was a rough start for Express lefty Rusty Edwards who gave up eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, but wasn't helped by an early error.
The Jackets used a walk and three singles to get a rally going in the fourth, but an error led a trio of unearned runs after Bryan Heward hit a two-run triple. The Jackets scored five runs in the inning.
That was enough for Saskatoon's Adam Prashad who pitched a complete game. Prashad allowed 11 hits, but only two earned runs.
"Rusty just didn't have his good stuff and they took advantage. We got into some counts we could take advantage of and their pitcher Prashad did an excellent job against them."
The Express scored three runs in the ninth. Lokesak hit a double to drive him Bryce Crosbie,
and Aidan Stinnett singled home Cornell.
Saskatoon made four errors on the night, but the Express couldn't take advantage. Moose Jaw rolled three double plays and only made one error.
Zach Shelstad and Connor Keating came on in relief for the Express who gave 17-year-old catcher Cole Warken the seventh inning on the mound before middle infielder Drew Danzeisen pitched the eighth to give the bullpen some relief. Warken didn't allow a hit, struck out one and walked two, while Danzeisen gave up a walk and no hits in his inning.