The Moose Jaw Miller Express fought right to the final out, but it wasn't enough to keep their season going.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks ended up being too much for Moose Jaw in their first round playoff series, despite the Millers putting up a good fight in all four games, they could only come away with one win.
Medicine Hat ended the Millers season on Monday night with a 6-1 win at Ross Wells Park in game four of the best-of-five series. The Mavericks will face the winner of the Okotoks-Lethbridge series, which is into game five on Tuesday.
“No matter how bad you want it, sometimes it just doesn't go in your favour,” said outfielder Miles Hunter. “We absolutely rocked a few balls tonight, but hit them right at guys and if those balls drop, it's a totally different game.”
Moose Jaw scored a run in the first inning and looked to be building off the momentum gained on Sunday in game three, but they were left thinking about what could have been the rest of the game. The Millers had a runner in scoring position with less than one out three times and come away empty all three times.
“It's the most humbling sport there is,” said Hunter. “No matter how bad you want bad you want things and no matter much you prepare and how much you work, sometimes it just doesn't go your way and that's the way it is.”
The Mavericks were able to pull off some stellar defensive plays that limited the Millers chances throughout the latter half of the game, including a diving catch by right fielder Michael Olson that took away possible extra bases for catcher Cole Warken.
“You can play it over 900 times and it will be different every time, but today it just wasn't in the cards,” said head coach Michael Hunt. “(We kept fighting) every game, until they peeled us off of it. We may have bent, but we didn't break and today was certainly the same thing.”
Medicine Hat's first two runs came after the lead-off hitter reached in the third and fifth innings. They would both be driven in by RBI-groundouts by Blake Rowlett. The Mavericks ended up scoring three runs off starter Jason Renner, who worked mostly in the bullpen this season.
Renner came out and threw seven strong innings, striking out four and walking two, while giving up seven hits in the loss.
Renner gave the Millers a chance to win, but the offence just couldn't get the spark to back him up.
“I have no regrets, I left everything on the field that I could and threw everything I had,” said Renner, who is a senior and was playing in his final game for the Millers.
“It was a game of inches, literally,” he added. “A couple bad throws, a couple of balls that went off gloves, just couldn't get the breaks I needed to keep them off the board in a couple of innings.”
Moose Jaw provided a nice defensive play of their pitcher to finish off the seventh inning. An error and a walk put the first two runners on, but Renner was able to get a ground ball for a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the score remaining 3-1.
After Connor Keating pitched a scoreless eighth inning, Medicine Hat did pick up some insurance in the ninth, scoring three runs off reliever Jorge Pantoja.
That made a big hole for Moose Jaw to come back from and despite getting two runners on in the ninth they would end the year two batters later.
Kenton Schroter picked up the win after giving up just one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings. He had three strikeouts. Bryce Feia was great in relief, going 3 2/3, giving up just two hits and one walk, while strikeout three.