The Moose Jaw Miller Express are turning it on for the stretch run.
The local WMBL squad headed into Lethbridge on the weekend and took out the Bulls in their pair of games at Spitz Stadium, winning 6-5 on Saturday and then topping them 10-6 on Sunday.
Moose Jaw has now won three straight games, improving their record to 15-24, but they remain 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot thanks to two wins from Weyburn as well.
Head coach Michael Hunt said that the team had everything working over the two games against the Bulls, who sit third in the Western Division at 22-16.
“We got good hitting, we got good fielding and when we did have a little mistake, nobody put their head down,” said Hunt. “We kept grinding away and finding a way to add more runs.”
The Millers will return to the field on Tuesday when they host the Regina Red Sox to kick-off the second-last week of regular season action.
Millers 10 Lethbridge 6
The Millers have been prone to giving up the big early innings this season and that was the case on Sunday when the Bulls scored six runs in the second inning.
That came after Moose Jaw opened with two runs in the first inning for the second straight game.
The Millers never quit after the six runs by Lethbridge and they answered right back with two more in the third to get within two of the Bulls.
“It wasn’t a very good start for Bo today, but we found a way to get him off the hook and find a way to make it happened,” said Hunt.
The scored stayed at 6-4 until the seventh inning when the Millers pulled within one on a run-scoring single by shortstop Jackson Schnurbusch. Moose Jaw followed that up by taking the in the eighth with an RBI-single from outfielder Cutter McDowell and then a two-run triple from third baseman Cole Distler.
A lead-off home run from catcher Jeremy Stidham in the ninth gave Moose Jaw some cushion and Lane Harvey added some more insurance when he scored on an error to make to 10-6.
Moose Jaw had 16 hits in the game, including one in each inning except the second.
“We’ve been mixing a few guys in and out of the lineup, but maintain the same 6-7 guys, so they have found their groove a little bit and they’re getting comfortable with their spot in the lineup and we’re starting to see the fruits of that labour,” said Hunt.
After Bo Sheridan lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits, Kobe Portillo came in and pitched 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. He gave up five hits and one walk, but struck out four to keep the game in reach until the offence could comeback.
“He threw a lot of strikes, he kept his innings short so that he could go the six innings,” said Hunt on Portillo. “He’s made a lot of little adjustments over the last few outings and has turned himself into a strong pitcher.”
Travis Kuhn pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win.
Millers 6 Lethbridge 5
On Saturday, the Millers started scoring early, opening with two runs in the first inning, but Lethbridge went in front by one in the third inning thanks to a three-spot.
Moose Jaw answered back after that, scoring one in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth to take the lead back for good, going up 6-3.
Mark Baughman picked up the win on the mound, going three innings in relief of starter Tanner Spencer. Baughman allowed two runs – one earned – on three hits with one walk.
Spencer lasted just four innings, allowing three runs – two earned – on four hits, while striking out three and walking four.
Chris Suarez earned the save, pitching a perfect eighth and ninth with two strikeouts.
At the plate, left fielder Lance VanNoy led the charge, going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and one run. Third baseman Cole Distler had a solo home run as he went 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
Every Miller hitter expect for lead-off hitter Louis Boyd had a hit in the win.