If a baseball game lasted four innings, the Moose Jaw Miller Express would have been set on Wednesday night in Swift Current.
They controlled the game with their pitching and capitalized on their chances with the bats early.
Unfortunately for the Millers, there’s nine innings to a ball game and the Indians didn’t go away. Swift Current was able to erase Moose Jaw’s 5-1 lead before going on to win 10-5 in the regular season finale at Mitchell Field.
“Swift Current is a team that doesn’t die and we just found a way to make baseball look difficult again,” said head coach Michael Hunt after the loss. “When one bad thing happens, it tends to snowball and tonight it certainly did.”
A few costly errors ended up biting the Millers in the loss.
Moose Jaw headed into the seventh inning still leading by four, but Swift Current scored three runs in the frame to go in front. Miscues in the field extended the inning in the eighth and gave Eric Sams a chance to seal the win for Swift Current with a three-run home run that put them up five runs.
Sams belted two home runs in the win for the Indians, while Moose Jaw’s bats went quiet with runners on over the final five innings. They ended up stranding eight runners over the final five innings, including runners on second and third in the ninth.
“We’ve already forgotten about it and we’re worried about Medicine Hat now,” said Hunt.
Aidan Stinnett led offence again, going 1-for-5 with two RBI. He wins the WMBL batting title by two points over teammate Miles Hunter.
Frank Pluskota, Austin Russell and Cole Warken also drove in runs in the loss.
With the playoffs in mind, the Millers went with a bullpen game on Wednesday, using five pitchers.
Tanner Spencer was sharp over the first two innings, giving up one run on three hits. Brandon Acosta pitched a perfect third inning before Rusty Edwards surrendered two runs on four hits over the next three innings.
Bryce Crosbie was tagged with the loss in his first appearance on the mound this season. He gave up three runs — two earned — on three hits in 2/3 of an inning.
The Millers missed out on a chance to secure home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs by dropping the final two games of the regular season to Swift Current, ending the year on a six-game losing skid against their Central Division rivals.
The losses will force Moose Jaw to head on the road to start their series with the Medicine Hat Mavericks after the Millers finished the regular season with a 24-22 record.
“The guys are excited about it and it’s just unfortunate that we’re not going to be at home for the first two, but it is what it is,” said Hunt about heading on the road for the first two games of the best-of-five series.
The Millers can take solace in the fact that they posted a 4-0 record against Medicine Hat this season. “It sets the mind at ease a little bit more, but it’s still going to be a tough series,” added Hunt.
The first round opens on Friday and Saturday in Medicine Hat. Game three goes on Sunday night at Ross Wells Park with game four on Monday, if necessary.
Game Notes… Swift Current left fielder Josh Johnson set the WMBL record for most stolen bases in the season with his steal in the seventh inning. Johnson finished the year with 38, including seven over the final two games against Moose Jaw.