Down 4-2 heading into the seventh inning and needing a win to stay alive in the playoff race, the Moose Jaw Miller Express came through in the clutch.
Moose Jaw scored five runs in the seventh and despite allowing Yorkton to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning, they scored three more in the tenth to pick up a 10-7 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
“A lot of things went right for us today,” said head coach Michael Hunt.
The Millers were helped out by the Swift Current Indians, who handed the Melville Millionaires a 6-5 loss and allowed Moose Jaw to move a half-game back for the final playoff spot in the Saskatchewan Division with three games to go.
It wasn't a pretty game for the Millers by any means.
They committed seven errors, which led to six unearned runs for the Cardinals, but their offence was able to come through when they needed it to, led by Ben Douglas, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a two-run home run in the seventh.
“We left a lot of guys on base early, we didn't take advantage of some things, but then we made up for those mistakes and made a team pay for throwing us some mistake pitches and we took advantage,” said Hunt.
Hunt gave credit to the entire lineup for coming up in different spots throughout the game.
“Marvin Malone had a big at-bat today, Jayse McLean had a bit at-bat today, Ben had a huge at-bat to break the door open, Brennan Reidy had a huge sac-bunt to move guys over and get guys in position,” said Hunt. “We're seeing a lot of good things out of a lot of players.”
Reidy had an RBI-double in the second inning and Malone followed that up with a run-scoring single to give Moose Jaw an early 2-0 lead. Yorkton answered right back when an error led to two unearned runs on a double by Nick Gotta in the bottom of the second.
Moose Jaw responded to Yorkton taking a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth by scoring five in the top of the seventh. Reidy drove in one with a sacrifice-fly, while Chris Suarez added a couple more with a two-run single.
After Yorkton tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, the score stayed that way through the next two innings as Moose Jaw's pitching tightened.
The Millers finally broke through in the tenth inning.
Pitcher Paul McMahon led off with a single and Derek Cornell followed that up with a walk. After Reidy moved them over with a sac-bunt and Yorkton decided to intentionally walk Malone, Douglas made them pay.
He stroked a single to left field and cashed in two runs to put Moose Jaw up 9-7. An RBI-single by McLean added some more insurance.
“That's one of those things we work on, runners on base with less than two outs, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but today it certainly worked,” said Hunt.
McMahon shut the door on the mound in the bottom of the tenth allowing a hit and a walk before getting Riley MacDonald to ground out to first to end the game.
“We're happy,” said Hunt. “We're happy because we made some mistakes defensively, we gave up six unearned runs and the guys are taking that personally, they know that they're not playing clean baseball and making it a little harder than it has to be, so they're incredibly happy with their offence to be able to minimize those mistakes, but they're certainly hungry to get on the board tomorrow and not have those same things happen.”
Tanner Spencer got the start for Moose Jaw and gave up seven runs – only one earned – on 13 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Brandon Acosta and McMahon shut down Yorkton after that. Acosta gave up one hit and struck out two over 1 1/3, while McMahon went two innings, allowing two hits, two walks and struck out two.
Moose Jaw returns to the field on Thursday when they host Weyburn at Ross Wells Park. First pitch is at 7:05pm.