The entire squad pitched for the Moose Jaw Miller Express' 9-2 win over the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets on Thursday night.
Starting pitcher Terry McNabb battled through a shaky start to finish strong and improve to 7-1 on the year, while the Millers' bats picked up timely hit after timely hit – something that they had been missing – on their way to 13-hit performance in the win.
Moose Jaw halted a two-game slide with the victory and improved their record to 19-16 on the year and 5-2 overall against their division rivals from Saskatoon. The Millers are now 5.5 games clear of the Yellow Jackets in the Central Division.
“That's huge, puts us ahead and we've still got a little bit of work to do with Swift Current, but winning this game tonight put us in better position,” said McNabb, who struck out ten over eight innings in the win.
McNabb started off slow against the Yellow Jackets as he gave up two hits and one run in the first inning, but then held Saskatoon to just six hits and one run over the next seven innings.
A mid-game adjustment was what led to the Moose Jaw ace finding his form after the first inning.
“They were sitting fastball and my velocity was down,” said McNabb on the first inning struggle. “Once I started mixing in that breaking ball and off-speed (pitches) then they were a little ahead on it and you get those rollover ground balls, strikeouts and start settling in.”
The ability to change mid-game like that comes with experience as McNabb as matured as a pitcher since his early years here in Moose Jaw.
“We all saw Terry three-four years ago when he was here and it wouldn't be that, it would be more might is right and things would downhill spiral from there,” said head coach Michael Hunt. “He's had to reinvent himself a little bit, which is what senior pitchers can do. He's certainly turned himself into the ace of our staff and I couldn't be any happier with the outing he had today.”
McNabb's ERA drops to 2.61 with the win and he continues to lead the league by a wide margin in strikeouts, pushing his total to 65 on the year, which is 13 ahead of Fernando Pena from Swift Current.
The defence did its job behind McNabb as they kept the score sheet clean with no errors and were able to turn two double plays.
“Defensively we played great,” said Hunt. “(McNabb) got his ground balls when he needed them, he got his fly balls when he needed them and we put in a solid effort defensively behind him.”
The offence wasn't too bad for Moose Jaw either as all but two players picked up a hit in the win, including five players with multiple hits.
Aiden Stinnett went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, while Ben Douglas, Dylan Hanson and Drew Danzeisen all drove in two runs each. Austin Russell and Frank Pluskota added single RBIs as well.
Moose Jaw is sitting three games back of Swift Current for top spot in the division heading into a three-game weekend. The Millers get it started on Friday night with the Yorkton Cardinals in town, first pitch is at 7:05pm.