Tanner Spencer put his first two starts of the season in the rear-view mirror on Wednesday night in Regina.
The Moose Jaw Miller Express' starting pitcher went eight full innings in a 9-4 win over the Regina Red Sox in a masterful outing that earned him his first win of the season.
“It was by far the best appearance he's had in three years of being part of the WMBL,” said head coach Michael Hunt after the game. “We knew there was going to be some ups and downs and today was certainly an up.”
Spencer seemed to get stronger as the game went and his confidence built with each out. He allowed just two runs on five hits, but the most important stat was the no walks and three strikeouts for the young Craik native.
“It finally felt like I had some control,” said Spencer. “It's nice to go out there and know that you have a fastball in your back pocket, it makes things a lot easier on the mound.”
After giving up a pair of singles and a run in the first inning, Spencer settled in for the rest of the game. He would retire 13 consecutive batters from the end of the fourth inning until he exited the game after the eighth.
“Right from the bullpen I felt like I was pretty locked in and it’s pretty easy to pitch like that,” said Spencer after improving his record to 1-0 on the year. “You always want to go out there and give your team a chance to win and the last two times I haven't really done that, but it’s nice to bounce back like this.”
Spencer was stellar on the mound, but his defence was also great behind him as he forced plenty of ground balls. The Millers turned a season-high three double plays in the win.
“They did a great job, when I'm on, I'm getting a lot of ground balls because of my sinker and my defence came up big for me like they always do,” said Spencer.
The win was Moose Jaw's third straight and pushed them to 2-0 against their Trans-Canada rivals from Regina.
The Millers had the game under control right from the opening at-bat by Danny Lokesak, who picked up a single, a stolen base and a run to lead-off the game. Moose Jaw really blew things open in the third inning, sending ten batters to the plate and scoring five runs.
That big inning chase Regina starter Jesse Baird from the mound after just 2.1 innings. He gave up five runs on three hits with four walks and a hit batter.
With Spencer cruising on the mound, the win never really felt in doubt for the team.
“Every win is big, especially in our division, but the rivalry between Regina and Moose Jaw lives on and it was big to get one here,” said Hunt.
Moose Jaw improves to 11-6 on the year and moves into sole possession of first place in the entire Western Major Baseball League. They'll head down the road to Swift Current on Thursday night to face off with the Indians, who sit 3.5 games back in the division.