To think that the Moose Jaw Miller Express came one hit away from winning on Tuesday night is pretty incredible.
After trailing 10-1 heading into the sixth inning, the Millers battled back and had the tying run standing at the plate in the ninth inning before Ben Douglas struck out swinging to end the game.
Regina walked away with a 14-11 win that was a lot closer than the Red Sox would have liked after their strong start to the game.
“We were down by a few runs early and it still didn't ever seem out of reach,” said head coach Michael Hunt after the game. “We know we can hit the ball, we know we can move guys around and it's just a matter of time, but we were just a few runs short.”
Moose Jaw struggled to find a rhythm offensively to start the game and the same could be said for their pitchers over the first six innings. After a scoreless first, Regina would lead off three of the next four innings with a home run that got their offensive game rolling.
Tanner Spencer was scheduled to pitch just three innings as he reaches the innings limit set following his Tommy John surgery last year. Regina scored five runs on seven hits off the Moose Jaw starter to take an early 5-1 lead.
Jason Renner came on for the next three innings and didn't fare much better as he surrendered five runs on six hits. Each pitcher had three walks as well.
After Regina scored three in the sixth to go in front 10-1, the Millers woke up. They had their first five hitters reach base in the inning and all five came around to score, led by a bases loaded three-run double by Frank Pluskota.
The 10-6 game was short lived however as Regina answered right back in the seventh by plating three runs. That would be the story over the next two innings as no matter how close Moose Jaw got Regina added more breathing room.
"No matter runs were down, we know we have the offence to come back at any time, no matter how many runs it is," said second baseman Derek Cornell, who went 3-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. "Today they just kept adding on and kept it out of reach for us."
The fact that Moose Jaw was able to make a game out of an ugly effort early shows the kind of fight that the team has and is something that they can build off going into Swift Current on Tuesday night.
"Offensively we showed that we can score as many runs as we want really and even when our pitching struggles, we're still going to be in the game," said Cornell. "We just need to be a little more aggressive early on and attack them."
The Millers made life easy on Regina starter Justin Blue early in the game as he gave up just three hits through the first five innings. Moose Jaw eventually tagged him six runs on seven hits in six innings. Blue did pick up the win however to improve to 6-0 on the year.
Moose Jaw got after the Regina bullpen, scoring two runs off Tyler Shumpert and three more off Jeremy Sylvester in the ninth before falling in the end.
Moose Jaw's offence was boosted by the return of Andrew Solomon. The University of San Diego freshman got off to a great start for Moose Jaw in the first five games of the season, but then went down with a shoulder injury.
He went home to Carlsbad, California to rest up and came back swinging in his first game back, going 4-for-5 with three runs scored. He's now hitting .417 with seven runs scored in six games this year.
"He had himself a day," said Hunt. "We knew we were going to lose Miles (Hunter), but we also knew that we were going to get Andrew back and he was a solid hitter for us before he left. Having Andrew back in the lineup certainly does help."
Solomon had an MRI on his shoulder and was given the okay to start playing again. He said there's still some soreness, but he's happy to back on the field serving as the designated hitter on Tuesday.
"It felt awesome," said Solomon. "Was a little nervous in the first at-bat, just trying to see the ball well, but after that I was looking at the whole field just trying to get my job done and it worked out."
The loss drops Moose Jaw's record down to 18-15 on the year. They're 2.5 games back of the Swift Current Indians for top spot in the Central Division. Those two teams meet on Wednesday night at Mitchell Field in Swift Current.
Game Notes: The Millers have lost starting pitcher Todd Leavitt as he has left the team due to family reasons. Leavitt's departure combined with Spencer's innings limit has the Millers searching for some pitching answers heading down the stretch run.