Regina out-socks the Express 14-11

Matthew Gourlie
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Soloman goes 4-for-5 for Moose Jaw in return

The Moose Jaw Miller Express sent the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday.

Tanner Spencer of the Moose Jaw Miller Express pitches Tuesday at Ross Wells Park.

That in itself was a modest accomplishment given what preceded.

In the end the Regina Red Sox prevailed 14-11 in a sloppy Western Major Baseball League outing.

"We were down by a few runs early, but it still never felt out of reach," said Express head coach Michael Hunt. "We know we can hit the ball. We know we can move guys around."

The Express planned to give starting pitcher Tanner Spencer three innings of work as they conserved his surgical repaired arm per the protocol following Tommy John surgery.

Neither Spencer, nor Jason Renner had banner outings as the Express fell behind 10-1 midway through the sixth inning.

"We pitched to contact, but it was too-good of contact. It was belt-high and thigh-high, rather than making it difficult to elevate. In this park if you get balls elevated bad things are going to happen. Our pitcher's know that," said Hunt. "We knew it was going to be a little bit funky with Tanner and Jason splitting the start, but we certainly didn't expect them to both be that up in the zone."

Spencer gave up five runs off of seven hits over three innings and Renner didn't fare much better as he allowed five runs off of six hits over his three innings.

"It was tough to try to expect a gem when we knew we were going to have to throw three pitchers today, not matter what. We knew we going to need to score some runs — and we did — we just didn't score enough," said Hunt.

Spencer is running out of innings this season and the Express' pitching staff also lost Todd Leavitt who returned home to B.C. for family reasons.

"I think we're down to 11 innings for Tanner," said Hunt. "We have to give him another start, which will be five (innings) max. We're in a tough spot. It's not like it's our decision. It's in conjunction with Colby (College) and with his surgeon. It's what we have to do.

"Todd did not want to leave, but family comes first."

The Express got good news at the plate as Andrew Soloman returned to the lineup with an impressive 4-for-5 day at the plate. The 19-year-old Univ. of San Diego freshman had been at home in Carlsbad, Calif. for more than four weeks as he rested his ailing right shoulder.

"I got an MRI last week, but everything showed up clear. It's still a little sore in there and I'm still getting back to throwing," said Soloman who also scored three runs as the team's designated hitter Tuesday. "It was strained biceps tendon, so it's nothing to serious, it's just a tedious injury."

Soloman has only appeared in six games this season, but he has a .417 average and nine RBI in 24 at-bats.

"It felt good. I was just happy to be back. I took some time off to relax, but last week I was swinging the bat a lot and I was just seeing the ball well today," said Soloman who is hoping that he can contribute on the defensive side of the game as his arm continues to heal. He has caught two games and DH'd in the others, but can also play in the outfield.

"My goal is to get back behind the plate in a couple of weeks," said Soloman. "In the meantime hopefully I'll play a little DH, maybe a little outfield."

Getting Soloman back takes some of the sting out of losing leading hitter Miles Hunter who is back in Calgary preparing to attend medical school, but may be available on occasion.

"We knew we were going to lose Miles, but we knew we were going to get Andrew back. He was a solid, solid hitter for us before he left and getting Andrew back certainly does help," said Hunt.

The Express showed some signs of life with a five-run sixth inning to cut the lead to 10-6, but the Sox scored three more in the seventh inning to rebuild a healthy 13-6 lead. 

"It felt like we hit everything, it just wasn't enough. They hit great, we hit great, they just a little more than us," said Soloman.

The Express were down 14-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when they got back on the bats.

Soloman and Frank Pluskota got the rally started with consecutive singles. Drew Danziesen drove in a run, Pluskota scored on a wild pitch and Austin Russell looked like he had hit into a game-ending ground out, but the throw from Hans Ask was errant which allowed another run to come in and prolong the game.

The Express had two men on and the tying run at the plate when the Red Sox finally picked up the final out.

Pluskota hit a three-run double in the sixth inning and finished 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs. Cornell was 3-for-5 with the Express with an RBI and a run.

Regina's Greg Rogers hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning, Anthony Pacheco homered off the first pitch of the third inning and Ask did the same in the fifth for Regina. The Red Sox finished with 17 hits.

Justin Blue earned the win on the mound for the Sox. He gave up six runs and seven hits in six innings.

he Express are 18-15 on the WMBL season and travel to Swift Current tonight. They will be back at Ross Wells Park for three straight games starting Thursday when they host Saskatoon.

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