(Marc Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) It was really the tale of two games for the Moose Jaw Miller Express on Wednesday night.
Through the first four innings, the Millers were held to just three hits, but a grand slam by Melville’s Vinny Martin in the top of the fifth inning woke up Moose Jaw. Over the next four innings, the Millers complied 11 runs on 11 hits to overcome a 5-0 deficit and beat the Millionaires, 11-5, at Ross Wells Park.
“It’s really important to always respond with something, even a run helps, you’ve just got to chip away a little bit,” said designated hitter Travis Able. “The good thing about baseball is you can’t just run out the clock (when you get a lead), you’ve got to play all night.”
Able was a key part of the comeback for Moose Jaw as he smacked a two-run home run in the fifth inning that got the Millers, and Ross Wells, back into the game at 5-3 after five.
The Millers took full control of the game in the sixth when four straight batters reached base to set up Able for a two-run single. Shortstop Scott Platt scored on a groundout by centerfielder Grant Westmoreland; Able came around on an error and first baseman Ben Dalke cashed in catcher Cole Warken for another run to make it 8-5 for Moose Jaw.
“We’re scrappy and that shows it,” said Able.
After missing the past two games with a minor knee injury, Able returned to the lineup in a big way for the Millers on Wednesday, finishing 3-for-5 with four RBI in the win. He was a triple short of the cycle.
“I really wanted to get back out and start swinging it again,” said Able. “Coach (Michael Hunt) DH’d me today, so you’ve really got to come through, you’ve got to swing it well, you can’t go oh-for when you’re DH’ing, so pressure was on, but that’s motivating.”
Able has been deadly at the plate so far this season with a .365 batting average to go along with seven extra base hits and 11 RBI in 13 games. He said he’s picking up on the pitching in the WMBL pretty well.
“The thing about summer ball you’re seeing guys that could play from D1 level to NAIA level, so you’re going to see different velocities, so you’ve just got to adjust and that’s what baseball is all about,” said Able.
Dalke went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored in the win, while third baseman Adam Cook also went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Platt also picked up two hits and came around to score twice in the win.
As big as the offence was in the comeback, the bullpen played a massive part in Moose Jaw taking control of the game as Moose Jaw held Melville to just one hit after the fifth inning.
“If it keeps going back-and-forth responding and responding by each team than that gets kind of frustrating, but when you start responding and then (the bullpen) throws up a zero, that’s huge,” said Able.
D.J. Martinez earned the win, giving up just one hit over two shutout innings of relief, while Travis Edgar and Zach Fascia pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively.
Starter Zach McDonald allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings of work in a no-decision. He struck out four and walked three.
Melville’s Tanner Luna was lifted after going 5 1/3 innings. He surrendered five runs on eight hits with five strike outs and a walk. James Batton was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.
With two straight wins to start the week, the Millers will now head out on the road for their first road trip of the season as they play against the Dawgs in Okotoks on Thursday and Friday.
“We want to measure ourselves against the Alberta division, so we’re looking forward to it,” said Able.
Moose Jaw sits at 10-7 on the year, one game out of first place in the Eastern Division. Okotoks leads the Western Division with a 10-4 record.
The Millers are back at home on Saturday to host the Swift Current 57s at Ross Wells. First pitch is at 7 p.m.