Express bow out in four games

Matthew Gourlie
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The Medicine Hat Mavericks were ruthless Monday.

Kenton Schroter pitches for the Medicine Hat Mavericks in Game 4 of their WMBL playoff series against the Moose Jaw Miller Express Monday night at Ross Wells Park in Moose Jaw.

After letting the Moose Jaw Miller Express off the mat in Game 3 Sunday, the Mavs finished off the Express with a 6-1 win to claim their Western Major Baseball League quarter-final series in four games.

"They had some great defensive plays and erased some things that could have happened. You can play it over 900 times and it would be different every time, but today it wasn't in the cards," said Miller Express head coach Michael Hunt.

"We had a lot of character. We had some characters, but we also had a lot of character. There was a lot of sand-paper and a lot of grit and these guys never gave in, ever. We played 50 games of hard-nosed baseball and I couldn't be prouder of what we accomplished this year."

The Mavs scored their six runs off of nine hits as they were efficient with runners on base. They managed to get on the board before they even had a base hit.

"When we have runners on base we need to get them in, no matter how we do it. If we didn't get those runs in, it would have been a different ball game," said Mavs first baseman Sheldon Daquioag who had two hits, two RBI and a run. "I'm excited to end it. It was a great game. Moose Jaw played their tails off, they're a great team."

The Express only managed five hits, but hit a few line drives right at Medicine Hat fielders.

"That's baseball I guess. No matter how bad you want it, it doesn't go your way sometimes," said Express centrefielder Miles Hunter. "We absolutely rocked some balls tonight and hit them right at guys. If those balls drop it's a totally different game. It's the most humbling sport there is. No matter how much you want things and how much you prepare and how much you work, sometimes it just doesn't go your way. That's the way it is." 

The Express opened the scoring in the first inning. With the hit-and-run on and two out, Aidan Stinnett hit a RBI double to drive Frank Pluskota home.

The Mavs tied the game in the third when C.J. DeDeaux earned a lead-off walk. He came around to score after a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a ground out on a high chopper by Blake Rowlett.

In the fifth Rowlett had another ground-out RBI as he cashed in Bryan Arthur after he hit a lead-off double for the Mavs.

Medicine Hat added to their lead in the sixth when Daquioag singled into no-man's land in the shallow outfield. Hunter slipped as he broke on the ball, giving him no chance to make up the ground. Jose Cruz hit a line drive off of the glove of third baseman Stinnett in the next at-bat to spur the rally. Michael Olson drove in Daquioag.

Jason Renner gave the Express a chance to win as he pitched seven innings and allowed three runs off of six hits.  

"I have no regrets. I left everything on the field that I could," said Renner. "I threw everything I had. It was a game of inches — literally. A couple of bad throws, a couple of balls that went off of gloves. I couldn't get the breaks I needed to keep them off of the board in a couple of innings there. That's how she goes sometimes."

Though the Mavs retired 10 straight Express batters in the second half of the game, the home side was within striking distance until the ninth.

Express reliever Jorge Pantoja got off to a good start in the ninth and felt he had struck out Garrett Wiese to end the inning. Instead he didn't get the call and walked Wiese. He would walk another batter, give up a single and then hit Devin Johnson to drive in a run with the bases loaded. Daquioag hit a two-run single for the Mavs to give them a 6-1 lead.

Connor Keating had retired the Mavs in order in the eighth.

Medicine Hat starter Kenton Schroter only lasted 4 2/3 innings and thew 60 pitches. He allowed three hits, an earned run and two free passes.

Left-hander Bryce Feia earned the win coming out of the bullpen. He gave up two hits in 3 2/3 innings and struck out a pair.

He gave way to Myles Richards with one out and two men on base in the bottom of the ninth. Richards retired both batters he faced to end the game.

"Our pitchers were really good today. They were down in the zone," said Daquioag who is also a catcher. "We have a good staff. Both teams do."

Medicine Hat will now face either Okotoks or Lethbridge in the WMBL semifinal series.

Organizations: Western Major Baseball League

Geographic location: Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw

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