(Marc Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) It was a solid road trip to Northern Alberta for the Moose Jaw Miller Express over the long weekend as they posted a 2-2 record against Fort McMurray and Edmonton.
The Millers closed out the trek with an 8-3 win over the Prospects on Sunday to pick up a split of their two games in Edmonton, which was the focus heading into the trip.
“Our rule of thumb for our schedule is if we can tie or win a series against every team that we play, we’ll be in a good spot hopefully heading into the playoffs and that’s exactly what we ended up doing,” said Head Coach Michael Hunt.
When the Millers won, it was in commanding fashion, and when they lost, it was a similar story to what they’ve seen all season with errors costing them.
Moose Jaw opened the trip with a 4-2 win over Fort McMurray on Thursday, but they dropped the next two games, losing 7-5 to the Giants on Friday and then falling 6-5 to the Prospects on Canada Day.
“I thought we played pretty well, especially since we had a pretty rough stretch of games all in a row and then having a pretty long drive,” said Hunt. “When we played clean defence and didn’t have mental mistakes, we came out with two wins, and when we had more than a couple mental mistakes, they were the pivotal moments in those games and we ended up losing.”
Those mental mistakes have been the biggest thing holding the Millers back so far this season. They have a 15-11 record and sit just two games out of first place in the Eastern Division, but have hurt themselves at times throughout the first month.
Hunt said they can be their biggest enemies at times.
“Probably the last week and a half, one of the things that I’ve been beating the drum on is that there’s only one team that can beat us and it’s the team wearing the black and gold, so if we can limit those mental mistakes, we can be pretty hard to beat,” said Hunt.
After dropping two straight on Friday and Saturday, the Millers finished the road trip on a positive note with a five-run win over Edmonton on Sunday.
The offence was consistent throughout the game with Moose Jaw jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first two innings, then extending that lead to 3-1 and 5-1 after the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
After Edmonton scored two runs in the eighth, the Millers ended any hopes of a comeback with a three-run ninth inning to seal the win.
“It was Miller baseball, we ground it out, we seized opportunities when we had them and we executed when we had to and we kept the mental mistakes to a zero,” said Hunt.
Catcher Zach Fascia led the offence with two doubles and a run batted in. Second baseman Scott Platt, first baseman Ben Dalke and shortstop Joshmar Doran picked up a pair of hits each as every batter reached base in the win for Moose Jaw.
Bo Sheridan allowed one run on five hits over five innings of work to improve his record to 2-2 on the year. Travis Edgar, Arman Lakhani, Mitchell Price and Carter Sorenson all pitched an inning of relief to help seal the win.
After getting Monday off to rest up, the Millers will load up the bus again on Tuesday for the short trip to Swift Current where they’ll face the 57s in a key Eastern Division game. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.