Express lose in extra innings

Matthew Gourlie
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Medicine Hat opens with 4-3 win in 11 innings

It is only one game, but it was a game that the Moose Jaw Miller Express felt they should have won.


Moose Jaw Miller Express starting pitcher Brandon Acosta hurls a pitch to the plate during the second inning of Game 1 of the best-of-five WMBL playoff series against the Medicine Hat Mavericks on Friday.

AThe Medicine Hat Mavericks beat the Miller Express 4-3 in 11 innings to win the opening game of their playoff series.

"I just think we let an opportunity slip (in a situation) that we thrived in before," said Miller Express head coach Michael Hunt.

In the bottom of the 11th Garrett Wiese reached on an error by Moose Jaw shortstop Drew Danzeisen. Brody Hawkins came in to pinch run for Wiese and the extra speed paid off when Andy Scott, the Mavs nine-hole hitter, drove Hawkins in from first base with a double to the gap.

"It was a very entertaining game, that's for sure," said Hunt, whose team had won all four of their meetings with Medicine Hat during the regular season. "Sure we won four games against them, but it's the playoffs — everyone is sharp and everyone is ready to go. The focus is a little sharper and we need to match that focus."

Game 2 of the best-of-five Western Major Baseball League quarter-final series will take place tonight at Athletic Park in the Gas City. Games 3 and 4 will be played at Ross Wells Park Sunday and Monday at 7 p.m. 

Terry McNabb (8-1) will start for the Express tonight.

Moose Jaw's Brandon Acosta and Medicine Hat's Kalei Contrades duelled for most of the night with neither pitcher earning the upper hand.

The Express were able to grab a quick 1-0 lead as they manufactured a run in the top of the first inning. Derek Cornell fouled off five pitches before reaching on an error. He advanced to second base on a passed ball and reached third on a ground out. That set the table for Miles Hunter to cash him with a sacrifice fly.

In the second inning, the Mavs got three runs across the plate and had the bases loaded with one out. Acosta retired Blake Rowlett and Jose Cruz — their number two and three hitters — to get out of the inning without any more damage done.

The Mavs used three hits, two walks and a hit batsman to score their three runs. Over the other eight innings he only allowed three more hits and one more walk. 

"There were a couple of funny bounces, really it was just baseball happening in that inning," said Hunt of Acosta's second inning struggles. "He gave us everything and an extra inning as well."

The Express comeback was as simple as one, two, three. Danny Lokesak led off the eighth inning with a single, Derek Cornell doubled and Frank Pluskota tripled, to drive Lokesak and Cornell home to tie the game at 3-3. Pluskota was on third base with none out and the Express weren't able to cash him in.

"It's unfortunate that we had some situations where we thrived the past and we couldn't punch the next one across," said Hunt.

A dropped third strike, prolonged the top of the ninth inning as Lokesak reached base after striking out and Austin Russell advanced to third. Cornell failed to drive the go-ahead run home.

In the 10th the Express had Aidan Stinnett was on second and Hunter was on third and weren't able to score.

Both teams stranded 10 runners.

Moose Jaw's Jason Renner moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation a month ago, but he came out of the pen Friday and took the loss. He pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and the unearned run.

Acosta struck out seven over his nine innings. 

Renner was going to throw a bullpen session anyway, so his relief appearance won't affect his scheduled start later in the series.

Contrades allowed three runs and seven hits over eight innings of work. He was replaced by Myles Richards who allowed two hits in his two innings of relief. Kenton Schroter earned the win thanks to his inning of relief as he allowed a hit and struck out a batter.

Cornell was 2-for-6 with two runs. Hunter hadn't played since Saturday's double-header in Edmonton, but was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Russell also had two hits.

The Mavs had eight hits and designated hitter Devin Johnson had four of them. He finished 4-for-5 with a run.

Organizations: Miller Express 4

Geographic location: Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Athletic Park Gas Ross Wells Park Edmonton

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