It was far from perfect, but the Moose Jaw Miller Express are celebrating their first win of the season after knocking off the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets, 9-4, at Ross Wells Park on Friday night.
The season opening win was powered by the stellar pitching of Terry McNabb — who struck out ten and didn’t give up an earned run over eight innings of work — in his return to Ross Wells.
“It felt pretty good, the atmosphere was good, everybody came out and we’ve got a good group of guys here that played well,” said McNabb, who surrendered seven hits to the Yellow Jackets and four unearned runs. “They were behind on a lot of the pitches and they seem to just foul it off, but getting ahead in the count on them was big.”
Five of Moose Jaw’s nine runs came with two outs as they were able to capitalize on the mistakes made by Saskatoon as they committed five errors in the game.
“We made some mistakes and they didn’t quite force the issue,” said head coach Michael Hunt. “Then when they made mistakes, we were able to force the issue on them.”
The Millers got production throughout their lineup with only two starters finishing without a hit in the game and all but leadoff hitter Danny Lokesak reaching base.
Austin Russell led the offence, going 1-for-3 with three runs scored, while Miles Hunter, Ben Douglas and Andrew Solomon — the 3, 4 and 5 hitters in the lineup — all picking going 2-for-4 on the night.
“We had a pretty good approach at the plate, we didn’t swing at a lot of wild stuff — which they ended up being a little bit — and we just were a little situation, we did a little bit of small ball and we got everybody involved,” said Hunt.
While Saskatoon finished with 11 strikeouts at the plate, Moose Jaw struck out just three times in the win and had six walks and had four batters hit by pitches.
Douglas started the scoring with an RBI-single in the first and Dylan Hanson added to the lead in the third, bringing around Hunter to score.
Saskatoon took a 3-2 lead in the in the top of the fourth, but Moose Jaw promptly tied things up after a leadoff double from shortstop Brady Rogers and an RBI from Hunter.
After Saskatoon went in front 4-3 in the fifth, the Miller Express would put two runs in each of the next three innings to take full control of the game and ride to the win.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” said McNabb. “Everybody feels good about it and it’s just only going to get better from here.”
Josh Janzen came on in the ninth inning to finish off the win. He gave up a single, but otherwise wasn’t in trouble during the inning.
Saskatoon starter Ross Mortenson lasted just four innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts. The bullpen didn’t fare much better for the Yellow Jackets as Dalton England gave up four runs — just one earned — over 1.2 innings, and Jacob Hein surrendered two runs in one inning.
Moose Jaw gets back on the field on Saturday night with the defending champion Melville Millionaires coming to town.
“It’s going to be a dog fight (Saturday),” said Hunt on their next matchup. “They’re returning a bunch of guys, so it’s not going to be a cakewalk, that’s for sure.”
Returning starting pitcher Todd Leavitt will get the start for Moose Jaw against Melville on Saturday. First pitch is at 7:00pm at Ross Wells Park.