(Story courtesy Marc Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) It wasn't lopsided as Saturday, but the Moose Jaw Miller Express still found themselves on the losing end on Sunday against the Lethbridge.
Despite a valiant comeback attempt that included four runs in the sixth, the Miller Express dropped an 11-8 game to the Bulls at Ross Wells Park.
“(Saturday) night was bummer and we just wanted to come out and give a good showing and really try to take one from them, but overall it was a good game,” said catcher Jeremy Stidham.
Stidham's three-run home run in the sixth put Moose Jaw in front 8-5 at that point, but it didn't take long for Lethbridge to respond as they scored six in the top of the seventh to retake the lead for good.
The loss puts Moose Jaw 1.5 games back of the Melville Millionaires for the final playoff spot in the Saskatchewan Division with four games to play. The Millers will open the final week of the regular season in Melville on Tuesday.
“We want to make the playoffs,” said Stidham. “We're all ready to get down to whatever it takes to make the last push and try to get in there and see if we can't make a playoff run.”
Stidham added that the team knows they have the ability to put together a final week run and get into the playoffs, but it's now about executing.
“We've just got to sit back and relax and trust our abilities,” he said. “That's why we're here, we're all about to do it and we just have to relax and let it happen.”
J.J. Santa Cruz got the start for Moose Jaw and despite giving up five runs in the first inning, he settled down after that and didn't allow another run for the rest of his outing.
“After the first inning, he really settled in,” said Stidham. “He had a low pitch count throughout the innings, he was getting guys to roll over and pop things up. In the first inning, he just had trouble finding the strike zone and you don't normally see that from J. J.
“We were able to turn around and get some up on the board, so it wasn't a huge downer after the first inning and we actually had some momentum going through the rest of the game.”'
Santa Cruz was tagged with the no-decision and finished with five runs against – four earned – on six hits with 5 1/3 innings of work. He struck out nine and walked four.
Chris Suarez relieved Santa Cruz for Moose Jaw in the sixth, but he was tagged for four runs on two hits and three walks in his one inning of work, while Lethbridge mounted their quick comeback.
Stidham said it was nice to go deep again as he hit his fourth home run of the season, but first since June 27th.
“It's nice to be connecting with the ball the way that I use to,” he said. “It's definitely something to look forward to for the rest of these games.”
Mitch Grisbrook had a three-run triple in the first inning for Lethbridge, while Troy Blad finished the night 2-for-4 with two-runs scored and two RBI.
Moose Jaw will be back on the field on Tuesday in Melville to start the final week of the regular season. Their other matches are as follows; in Yorkton on Wednesday and then they're at home against Weyburn on Thursday and they finish against Swift Current on Friday.