For the first six innings, it looked like the same story as Saturday night for the Moose Jaw Miller Express. They were grinding out at-bats, but just couldn’t find a way to get their runners across.
That all changed in the seventh inning as Moose Jaw sent nine hitters to the plate and scored five runs to take the lead and eventually going on to win 5-4 over the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets on a Sunday night in the Bridge City.
“We knew Todd (Leavitt) was throwing well and we trust our bullpen, so as long as they keep them to a low number, we always have confidence that our offence will come out at some point,” said outfielder Austin Russell, who drove in two runs in the five-run seventh.
The win closes out a busy four-game road trip for the Millers that saw them go 3-1 to improve their record to 18-14 on the year, keeping pace with Swift Current, who won 14-8 in Yorkton.
“This was a big one, especially in a division game like this,” said Russell. “This could be a big momentum shift… Anytime you can win three out of four on the road its good.”
On Saturday night, the Millers fell behind 9-1 to Saskatoon and waited too long to get the offence going, eventually scoring three in the ninth in a 9-4 loss. They didn’t wait as long and didn’t have nearly as far to come back this time around.
Trailing 3-0 entering the seventh inning, Moose Jaw had eight straight hitters come to the plate and reach base. After a walk from Cole Warken, Brady Rogers reached on an error and Danny Lokesak bunted his way on to load the bases.
Derek Cornell smoked an RBI-single, Russell followed it up with a two-run single and Ben Douglas added another run with an RBI-single.
“A few innings before that we got some stuff going, but never really cashed in, but in the seventh, we finally took advantage,” said Russell. “Once you get one across, we tend to score many more.”
The seventh inning chased Saskatoon starter Steven Latos from the mound after he was on point through the first six innings. He ended up taking the loss, giving up three earned runs in 6+ innings with five walks.
Danny Lokesak finished 3-for-4 without hitting a ball out of the infield, he picked up two bunt singles and an infield single. Derek Cornell was 3-for-5 with an RBI and run scored out of the leadoff spot.
Todd Leavitt finished off his start with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to hold Moose Jaw’s lead at 5-3. Leavitt went seven innings, giving up three runs — just one earned — on eight hits. He struck out seven and walked three as his record improved to 2-3 on the year.
“I trust in the team and just keep pitching because I know that we’ve got the bats to swing it and put the runs up eventually in the game,” said Leavitt, who picked up his first win in four starts, despite pitch well in each start.
“It felt real good to get the win,” he added. “In the end it just matters that we’re getting wins, I’m going to go out there and compete every time.”
Josh Janzen gave up one run in the eighth inning to cut Moose Jaw’s lead to 5-4, but Jorge Pantoja was lights out in the ninth, striking out the side for his second save of the season.
The game didn’t start great for Moose Jaw as head coach Michael Hunt was tossed just batters into the game and Saskatoon scored runs in the first and second to go in front 2-0.
Moose Jaw didn’t panic and eventually found a way to win.
“Saskatoon doesn’t always have the strongest teams, but it’s always a tough place to win,” said Russell. “Getting our first win without Miles (Hunter) in the lineup is big too for everybody, so now we know we can do it with somebody else in the three-hole and hopefully we get rolling now.”
The Millers enter the new week trailing Swift Current by a 1.5 games in the Central Division. Moose Jaw has Monday off and then hosts the Regina Red Sox on Tuesday night.