Home field advantage still in play for Express
It will all come down to the final game of the season for the Moose Jaw Miller Express.
© Katie Brickman
Ben Douglas of the Moose Jaw Miller Express makes contact against the Swift Current Indians on Tuesday evening at Ross Wells Park. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
And they hold their own destiny in their hands.
The Express (24-21) could have clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday night, but errors and a sputtering offence sunk them.
In the final regular season game at Ross Wells Park, the first-placed Swift Current Indians won 8-3 over the Express.
“They had great defence,” said Aiden Stinnett of the Express. “We hit some balls hard and they were making all the plays. Hats of them, they are a good team.”
With the loss, the Express have one more game — against the Indians in Swift Current tonight — to force the Medicine Hat Mavericks (25-21) to come here for the playoffs.
The Express were able to get the lead-off batter on base in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings, but were only able to cash runs in fourth, sixth and eighth innings.
“We were just trying to square ball ups,” said Stinnett. “If they are making plays, you can’t do anything about it.”
Head coach Michael Hunt took responsibility for the loss after making certain calls on the baseline with runners in scoring position.
“I made a lot of mistakes in the fifth and sixth innings that cost us runs and the game,” Hunt stated.
Uncharacteristically, especially at home, the errors were also a difference maker for the Express. They made four throwing mistakes, which allowed the Indians to cash in a few more runs and open the game up.
“I don’t think we are fatigued at all,” said Stinnett when asked about the errors. “I think we are ready to go. We are just not performing the way we should be. We made some crucial errors that could have been prevented easily.”
Jason Renner took the loss for the Express, as he gave up five runs on 10 hits, walked three and struck out two over six innings of work.
The Express will try and look to avenge this loss to the Indians tonight when they head west to Swift Current.
“We will have some momentum because we will be fired up,” said Stinnett. “You can tell there is a vibe around the clubhouse right now.”
Medicine Hat lost on Tuesday to Lethbridge and because they do not play tonight, the Express have the opportunity to secure home field advantage.
The scenario is this: if the Express win in Swift Current, they will have the same record as the Mavericks, but because they won the season series 4-0, they would host.
If the Express lose in Swift Current, the Mavericks will have one more win on the season and will have home field advantage.
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiebrickman.