Tanner Spencer spun a masterful first start of the season on Sunday night.
The Craik native struck out seven over 7 1/3 innings of work to lead to the Moose Jaw Miller Express to a 9-2 win over the rival Regina Red Sox in the home opener at Ross Wells Park.
“It felt good, it’s nice to get back it and get back in the Jaw,” said Spencer. “I was able to command the strike zone a little bit and it helped.”
The win gives Moose Jaw a 2-1 record after the opening weekend of the season as they’ve bounced back nicely from Friday’s season-opening 12-3 loss in Swift Current.
The team has given up just six runs over the next 18 innings.
“It looks like from what I’ve seen, we’ve got a pretty good staff and it should be a fun summer with it,” said Spencer following Sunday’s win. “It’s a little bit different team, we’ve typically hit the ball out of the ball park with regularity and we might still be able to do that, but it looks like the staff is going to carry us early and then the bats will pick up.”
That’s exactly what happened on Sunday.
Spencer breezed through the first two innings and didn’t allow a base-runner until an error in the third. He didn’t allow his first hit until the lead-off hitter in the fourth.
Regina scored a pair of runs off him in the eighth after he exited the game, but the damage was already done by the home side with the team up 7-0 at that point.
“I lost the strike zone late, but I didn’t feel tired, I kind of expected to feel tired (after not pitching for three weeks), so that was nice,” said Spencer.
The game was scoreless through the first three inning, but Moose Jaw was able to get on the board in the fourth without getting a hit. Ty Russell reached with a walk, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and then scored when Ty Stidham got caught in a run down.
The Miller Express blew the game open in the fifth courtesy of a pair of three-run home runs by Marvin Malone and Stidham. Both home runs were no doubt shots with Malone’s clearing the centre field wall as he introduced himself to the Ross Wells’ faithful.
“Regina kind of booted it around a little bit and gave us a chance to take care of it,” said Malone. “They gave it to us, but we took advantage of it.”
The Millers managed seven hits, but made the Red Sox pay for their two errors, three walks and three hit batters with all but one leading to runs for Moose Jaw.
Spencer surrendered three walks over the course of his start, but they all came in after the fifth inning and only one came back to haunt him when Regina scored twice in the eighth inning.
The Millers’ defence committed just one error in a fairly clean game in the field that included Malone gunning down a runner at the plate for an outfield assist in the eighth inning.
“We’re going to need defence all year, so if I can do my job to pick them up, I’m sure they’re going to do their job behind me,” said Spencer.
Moose Jaw will return to action on Tuesday when they host the Melville Millionaires at Ross Wells Park. First pitch is at 7:05pm.