Express blanked in Swift Current

Matthew Gourlie
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Tuesday the Moose Jaw Miller Express offence did their part in a 14-11 loss.

Moose Jaw Miller Express second baseman Derek Cornell was tagged out by Taylor Steen at home plate to end the top of the third inning during Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the host Swift Current Indians.

One night later their run production was conspicuously absent.

The Swift Current Indians handed the Express their first shutout of the season as the Indians blanked them 2-0 in Western Major Baseball League action.

Fernando Pena allowed six hits in 8 1/3 innings for Swift Current before making way for Zach Manley who recoded the final two outs of the game to earn the save.

"Pena did a great job. He's a quality guy and we've seen a lot of great arms," said Miller Express head coach Michael Hunt. "It was a pitcher's duel, a pitcher's battle and he came out on top. 

Brandon Acosta saw his record drop to 4-2 on the season despite throwing a complete-game five-hitter against the Indians.

In the bottom of the second inning Hunter Owen and Taylor Steen both walked to lead off the inning for the Indians. The pair stole second and third base respectively and Matt Spillman hit a two-run single to drive them in. It was the Indians' only hit of the inning, but it produced all of the offence they would need.

"That one inning — and it's kind of the Cardinal rule of baseball — he walked the first batter and he came around to score. He ended up walking the first two guys, actually, and they both came around to score. It's a game of inches sometimes and it came down to that," said Hunt.

The Express came closest to getting on the board when Derek Cornell was thrown out at home to end the third after an Austin Russell single.

"That was a good baseball play," said Hunt. "The ball wasn't hit very hard into left field and we had a guy who had some speed so you've got to roll the dice. We had guys on base the whole game, we just couldn't find a way to get them across."

Hunt said his team rarely got into batter-friendly counts.

Their best chance to start a rally came in the sixth when Austin Russell hit a lead-off single, stole second and then advanced to third base on an errant throw.

Frank Pluskota continued to swing a hot bat as he was 2-for-4 for the Express. Russell was also 2-for-4.

In the bottom of the ninth Aidan Stinnett walked and Pluskota singled to give the Express two base-runners with one out, but once again they failed to find the clutch hit that has been their hallmark for much of the season.

The Express are now 18-16 on the season and are 3.5 games behind Swift Current in the Central Division standings.

Organizations: Western Major Baseball League

Geographic location: Swift Current

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