Slow starts hurting Miller Express

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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The Moose Jaw Miller Express are in the dog days of the WMBL season.

Danny Lokesak from the Moose Jaw Miller Express lays down a bunt Saturday against the Weyburn Beavers.

And they're looking a little dogged.

That late-season grind doesn't get any easier when you're always chasing the opposition.

The Express dropped a pair of weekend games as they lost 8-5 at home to the Weyburn Beavers Saturday and then lost 9-2 in Yorkton on Sunday to the Cardinals.

"I give every bit of credit to Yorkton. They whacked it today. They hit a lot of everything. It didn't matter if we were ahead in the count or down in the count, they hit really well," said Express head coach Michael Hunt. "They're hot right now and we're not as much."

The Express have been playing from behind almost exclusively of late.

Their opposition has scored first in nine straight games. In their last seven games the Express have only scored two runs in the first three innings of a game. 

"When you end up being down four runs in the second inning — for several games in a row — it does take its toll emotionally and mentally. It puts more pressure on. Now you know you have to score five runs, no matter what. That's tough. That's not an easy thing to do," said Hunt.

The Express have only won one of their last six games.

Sunday was their fifth game in five days. They will take Monday off before hosting Melville on Tuesday at Ross Wells Park.

"Guys are a little ground down," said Hunt. "Instead of letting everyone get the same number of at-bats we've kind of relied on the same guys. The WMBL is taking its toll. Especially with the way the heat has been and the number of games, guys are getting a little tired and they came out flat again."

Cardinals 9 Express 2

The Cardinals had a 4-0 lead after two innings and lead 9-0 before the Express broke up the shutout in the ninth.

Aidan Stinnett and Frank Pluskota were both 2-for-4 for Moose Jaw and Pluskota and Dylan Hanson drove in runs. Bryce Crosbie singled in his only at-bat of the day and came around to score.

Kameron Mizzell remained red-hot for Yorkton as he finished 4-for-5 with a double, a triple and three RBI. Georgie Santiago was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI as the Cardinals had 16 hits.

Jason Renner gave up six earned runs and nine hits in three innings in his second start of the season. His ERA has gone up more than four runs since he came out of the bullpen.

Renner had a team-high four saves before becoming a starter.

"We're still trying to work him into it," said Hunt who said Renner is staying in the starting rotation. "Obviously losing Todd (Leavitt), we had to fill a spot and we had to find somebody else. He did well for us last year so it will happen. He has the track record that proves that he can be an effective starter. Now we just need to get that start out of him."

Renner was 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA last year as a starting pitcher.

Beavers 8 Express 5

It started out as a pitcher's duel, but it didn't finish that way.

Each team had one hit through three innings of play before both offences started to figure things out the second time through the order.

The teams traded runs in the fourth and the sixth. Weyburn took a 5-2 lead in the seventh when Javy Marticorena hit a two-run single as part of a theee-run inning.

The Express responded once again. Danny Lokesak's single turned into an adventure and a error led to Brady Rogers and Cole Warken both scoring. Andrew Soloman doubled to cash in Lokesak and tie the game.

Zack Shelstad gave up a run in the eighth inning and took the loss. Jorge Pantoja gave up two more runs in the ninth and the Express had no response as Sean Stanislawski shut the door.

Stanislawski allowed two runs over three innings of relief and struck out five. He retired the Express in order in the eighth and ninth.

Josh Janzen had an a strong start and allowed five runs and nine hits over seven innings for Moose Jaw.

Warken was 3-for-4 at the plate and Stinnett drove in a pair of runs.

Organizations: Cardinals

Geographic location: Yorkton, Moose Jaw, Ross Wells Park

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