One swing and one out is all that separated the Moose Jaw Miller Express from a win on Friday night at Ross Wells Park.
Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning and down to their final out, Moose Jaw had the speedy Danny Lokesak standing on second base. Derek Cornell hit the ball hard to center field, but Edmonton’s Trevor Meleski came up throwing and gunned down Lokesak at the plate for the win.
“It really was the case of one hit. I’ll wheel home every day of the year, he’s one of the fastest guys on our team, and the centerfielder had to make a great throw and he did, and the catcher had to pick the ball and he did,” said head coach Michael Hunt after his team suffered their second loss of the season.
The 8-7 win was the Edmonton Prospects’ second straight over Moose Jaw as they swept the two-game set at Ross Wells Park after winning 12-7 on Thursday night.
“I think we showed a lot of character,” said centerfielder Miles Hunter. “We broke it down at the end of the game saying that guys here want to win and they want to win bad. A loss like this does hurt, but we showed a lot of character in the ninth.”
It was a scrappy game for the Millers as they fought their way back from a 7-4 deficit to tie the game with three runs in the seventh inning, including three extra base hits in the frame.
The game was tied 7-7 heading into the ninth inning when the Prospects took the lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Gray Symington to left field off Zach Shelstad. Edmonton would eventually load the bases on Jason Renner before he struck out the next two batters to end the frame.
“You’ve got to hand it to Edmonton a little bit, they grinded back just like we did the last couple of days,” said Hunter. “We got out to an early lead, they grinded out to get ahead, we grind to come back, but back-and-forth like that, someone has to come out on top at the end of the day.”
The game was marred by a plethora of errors in the field on both sides as both teams finished with six errors on the night. Some wet grass and early season ball may be to blame for the rough night in the field on both sides.
“The conditions, obviously the grass is a little wet and that’s why we did some bunts early on too because the ball’s wet and you never know what’s going to happen,” said Hunt. “We had some guys in some position that hadn’t played yet, we had Bryce (Crosbie) at short, and we got (Brennan) Reidy DH’ing and Dylan (Pisio) behind the dish.
“I happy with what we saw today. I’m obviously not happy with the loss, but I’m happy with the effort that we got out of everybody.”
Moose Jaw started great for the second straight night, scoring twice in the top of the first for the early lead. Hunter had an RBI single and then came around to score on a double by Aiden Stinnett.
Stinnett ended up going three-for-five on the night with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. Hunter finished three-for-five —raising his average to an even-.500 to start the year — with two RBI and a run scored.
“Obviously getting a some balls through holes feels good, a couple of 0-2 pitches that ended up working out in favour so that’s always great, especially early in the year to jump out to a lead like that, getting some luck and hitting some barrels,” said Hunter.
Neither teams’ starting pitcher lasted past the fourth inning. Brandon Acosta gave up three runs on three hits with four strikeouts and four walks during his first start for Moose Jaw.
Jorge Pantoja had an adventurous first outing for Moose Jaw, giving up three runs — just one earned — on two hits during the fifth inning, which included two wild pitches and a passed ball.
Terry McNabb made his third appearance of the year, throwing two innings and picking up five strikeouts. He now has 19 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.
Bryn Redhead hit a two-run home run for Edmonton in the third inning and finished two-for-four on the night. Catcher Mackenzie Parlow was two-for-five with three runs scored and an RBI.
Bryce Shea picked up the win, throwing 2.1 innings of one-hit ball with one walk and one strikeout.
Moose Jaw will get the next three days off before heading up to Saskatoon on Tuesday to take on the Yellow Jackets. The Millers next home game is on Wednesday when Okotoks comes to Ross Wells Park.