Challenged by their coach, the Moose Jaw Miller Express responded.
The Millers suffered their first lopsided loss of the season during the first game of the double-dip, as they were trounced 15-2 by the Weyburn Beavers, who belted 18 hits in the seven-inning game.
Looking for an answer from his team, head coach Michael Hunt got it in the second game with his team putting together a solid effort from start-to-finish in a 5-1 win over Weyburn.
“That was the one question I asked the guys after the first game, I said, 'Who are we? And how are we going to answer back?’” said Hunt. “I just wanted to know what the answer was going to be, we they going to lay down and let the same thing happen in the second game or were they going to get back up and fight and they certainly fought.”
After tasting their first real beating of the season, the Millers didn't have much time to waste coming back for the second game. It served as an early season test for the squad to see how they could respond mentally after a game like that.
“We got a great outing out of Josh Janzen. Offensively we ground out at-bats against a really tough guy, (Sean Stanislawski) was probably the best pitcher we've seen to at this point as far as velocity and control, but we just ground out at-bats and stuck with the program,” said Hunt.
The Millers were held to just six hits in the first game, but they responded in the second game with nine hits – including doubles from Aiden Stinnett, Frank Pluskota and Ben Douglas – in the win. They ended up tagging Stanislawski for three runs on six hits over 4.2 innings.
“It might not have been as many hits as we've normally had in a game, but we were certainly effective in the ones that we had,” said Hunt.
The opening game of the doubleheader was another story for Moose Jaw as the Beavers squared up their pitchers throughout the game. Starter Rusty Edwards – making his return from injury – lasted just 3.1 innings. He surrendered seven runs on ten hits during the short outing. Connor Keating allowed three runs and Brendan Banerjee gave up five in the loss.
“There was nothing tough about the first (game), they just hit the snot out of the ball,” stated Hunt.
The team was able to find their game in the second game, which included Janzen going five innings and giving up just one run on six hits in his first start of the season. He also struck out five with no walks in an extremely effective outing, his tenth of the season.
“We knew that he'd be on a shorter pitch count because he hasn't thrown that many pitches in one outing, so having him go five was pretty big,” said Hunt. “It really worked out well that it was a seven-inning game, so that we didn't have to fill five innings of bullpen work.”
Jorge Pantoja and Jason Renner finished off the final two innings, giving up just two hits combined. “They were successful in the roles that we expect them to be in going forward,” said Hunt.
The win finishes off the weekend on a positive note for Moose Jaw as they now sit at 9-6 on the year after going 3-1 during their four-game weekend.
“(The confidence level is) pretty good and I think they're additionally excited about Tuesday's match-up against Saskatoon,” said Hunt.
The Millers will host the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday at Ross Wells Park. Saskatoon topped Moose Jaw 9-8 in extra innings on Thursday.