A six-run fourth inning wasn’t enough for the Moose Jaw Miller Express on Thursday night.
Early errors and a lack of offence late ended up costing the Millers the game as they lost 9-7 to the Weyburn Beavers at Ross Wells Park during Thursday’s Western Major Baseball League contest.
“In the first three innings we didn’t handle the baseball well and that makes it tough to win baseball games,” said head coach Michael Hunt. “We’re not doing our pitching many favours by making them throw 25 extra pitches.”
The Millers committed five errors on the night, including two in the first inning that led to Moose Jaw spotting the Beavers a 3-0 lead.
Moose Jaw battled their way back over the next three innings and they took the lead on a grand slam by right fielder Cutter McDowell during a six-run barrage in the fourth inning that made it 7-5 Moose Jaw.
“We definitely stayed in the game with that big fourth inning, but there’s other times in the game where we need to get the job done, myself included. I believe I struck out with the bases loaded and one out, and that can’t happen,” said McDowell, who finished 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Trailing 5-1 going into the bottom of the fourth, the Millers’ bats came to life with five hits and all nine batters coming to the plate as they scored six runs. McDowell capped off the onslaught with a grand slam to left field.
“I was looking to get something up, definitely not trying to strikeout again, but I was able to get a hanging change-up, 2-2, and was able to put a good swing on it and luckily it went out of the ball park,” said McDowell. “It was a very good at-bat and feels good to hit one out.”
McDowell is batting .250 through five games this season, that was his first home run of the year and pushed his RBI total to seven.
“He’s put good swings on the ball a lot and he’s been hitting it hard right at people,” said Hunt. “That stuff will take care of itself, that’s the way that the Baseball Gods take care of things.”
Starting pitcher Jesse Marks battled his way to get through seven innings after a rough start to the game thanks to his defence booting the ball around. Marks ended up giving up seven runs, but only three earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Michael Cartwright took the loss, giving up the winning run on a single by Ty Scott in the eighth.
Chris Suarez hit the mound for the ninth inning, allowing the Beavers to score an insurance run.
Suarez walked in the ninth inning, but the Millers couldn’t do anything with the base runner as they went down in order around him to end the game.
“We had a lot of good at-bats in the fourth inning, but unfortunately we could prolong it and stop the bleeding for the next four innings,” said Hunt.
Weyburn starter Logan Lund was done after five innings, he gave up seven earned runs on eight hits, but the Beavers’ bullpen was lights out, pitching four shutout innings of relief to allow their team to get back in front for the win.
Nick Schoen picked up the win after throwing scoreless seventh and eighth innings, while Eric Evans scored the save, blanking the Millers in the ninth.
Moose Jaw sits at 1-7 on the year after the loss. They’ll try to bounce back this weekend with three more games on the way, they host Regina on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Ross Wells Park, then head to Weyburn on Saturday before returning home to host Yorkton on Sunday.