Beaver hits three home runs, two Millers ejected in Moose Jaw win
The Moose Jaw Miller Express don't mind being the misfits of the Western Major Baseball League.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Derek Cornell from the Moose Jaw Miller Express hits a single to load the bases in the second inning.
In fact if they keep winning, they will happily embrace it.
"We kind of see ourselves as the Bad News Bears of the WMBL," said Express outfielder Austin Russell. "We're a little chirpy at times, but whatever gets us going it seems to be working.
"We've got some characters. We're misfits for sure."
They're misfits in first place.
Friday the Express beat the Weyburn Beavers 9-7 at Ross Wells Park and have won four of their last five games.
The win improves the Express' record to 12-7 on the WMBL season. They have a 2.5 game lead over the Swift Current Indians in the East Division. They will travel to Swift Current Saturday night.
Express ace Terry McNabb improved his record to 6-0 on the season with another outstanding performance.
"We basically take the attitude that we're going to win every time Terry steps on the mound. It's a big confidence boost knowing that if we play a clean ball game we're probably going to come out on top," said Russell.
McNabb allowed three runs off of nine hits over seven innings of work. He also struck out nine batters.
"This was a good bonding game. It was pretty intense once it came down to the end. It was a good experience. It's what the team needed," said McNabb.
It was a wild one as six batters were hit, Express head coach Michael Hunt was ejected, along with Moose Jaw pitcher Zach Shelstad. It was a game that had a little bit of everything, but so long as it ended with a Moose Jaw win, it didn't bother the Express any.
"There was a little bit of a circus act, some sideshow stuff with guys hitting guys and warnings," said Express outfielder Miles Hunter. "That stuff is all secondary at the end. We got fired up from it and I'm sure Weyburn did as well, but when push comes to shove as long as you finish the day with the W, that's all that matters."
The Express scored three runs with two outs in the first two innings to grab a 3-0 lead. In the fifth inning Ben Douglas hit an RBI double and Drew Danzeisen followed it with a two-run double. Cole Warken drove in another run as the Express scored four in the inning and led 7-1.
"This season it seems to be happening a lot of different ways. Sometimes it's with two outs, sometimes it's just one big inning, but either way, as long as we get it done it doesn't matter how we do it," said Russell who finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Moose Jaw first baseman Dylan Hanson was hit by Beavers starter Ryan Johnson in his first three plate appearances. The third time got the emotions boiling.
In response McNabb threw behind Javy Marticorena to start the sixth inning. Both benches were warned and Marticorena got the last laugh by hitting a solo bomb to dead centre in the same at-bat to cut the Express lead to 7-2.
"I wasn't hitting spots as good as I usually do. I'm usually aggressive in the zone and I was trying to be, but I was missing a little bit. They took advantage of a few and that's where the home runs came from. That will happen I guess," said McNabb who leads the WMBL with 45 strikeouts.
McNabb had thrown 118 pitches after seven innings, but came out to start the eighth inning. Marticorena hit his second solo home run of the night on the first pitch of the inning. That was the end of McNabb's night.
Hunter gave the Express some breathing room by crushing a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to restore the Express' five-run lead.
"We know Ross Wells plays small, so leads can disappear in a hurry and nothing is safe. You always want to keep adding on," said Hunter who was 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBI. He is hitting .465 on the season to lead the league.
Hunter had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game and Moose Jaw's Danny Lokesak was hit in the eighth inning. The first pitch of the ninth inning saw Express reliever Zach Shelstad hit Matthew Kinney to start the inning.
Shelstad may have been the first Moose Jaw pitcher that had hit a batter, but that was enough for home plate umpire Terry Marak who ejected Shelstad and Hunt immediately. Hunt protested vehemently and both teams finished the game standing at the edge of their dugouts.
"I'm not going to lie, it fires us up. Coach Hunt is an emotional guy and he backs his players 100 per cent," said Hunter. "When he goes to the plate for us, when things getting a little bit questionable during those heated moments, absolutely that puts some extra fire in our bellies and makes us want to win it a little more."
Marticorena hit a three-run home run — his third in three straight at-bats and fourth in two days — to cut the Express lead to two.
Express closer Jason Renner was able to get two straight ground balls to end the game.