(Mac Smith, DiscoverMooseJaw.com) The Moose Jaw Miller Express are entering the stretch run of the Western Major Baseball League’s regular season on a high note.
Moose Jaw beat the Melville Millionaires, 8-6, on Friday and then picked up a big 14-8 win over the 57s in Swift Current on Saturday.
The two wins closed out an up-and-down stretch for the Millers by getting the team’s record back to .500 at 18-18.
“We’ve had a couple of rough weeks where things were up-and-down, up-and-down, so hopefully we’re back on the up swing,” said Head Coach Michael Hunt.
The first two weeks of July have been a gruelling run of games for the Millers as they’ve played 12 games in 15 days with nine of those games being away from Ross Wells Park. With that in the rearview mirror, Moose Jaw will get to finish the regular season playing from home with ten of their final 12 games here in the Friendly City.
After heading to Regina on Monday, the Millers will play five games in six days at Ross Wells this week. Four of six games next week will also be at home.
“We’ve been discussing this week all through the year,” said Hunt. “This is nice to have, there’s a little bit of control when you have (that many home games), so we’re in a good spot right now.”
The Millers currently sit six games behind Swift Current for first place in the Eastern Division. They’re comfortably in the final playoff spot with a seven-game cushion on the Millionaires.
Moose Jaw will start the stretch run with a trip into Regina on Monday night to take on the second place Red Sox. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
After that, Moose Jaw hosts Medicine Hat on Tuesday; Lethbridge on Wednesday and Thursday; Swift Current on Saturday; and Yorkton on Sunday.
Moose Jaw 14 Swift Current 8
The Millers trailed 5-0 after five innings against Swift Current on Saturday, but that changed in a hurry in the sixth inning as Moose Jaw exploded for 12 runs in the frame on their way to the 14-8 win at Mitchell Field.
11 of the 12 runs that Moose Jaw scored in the sixth came with two outs.
“I can’t think of any time that we’ve done that to anybody, I know we’ve had a couple against us, it’s a helpless feeling and it’s nice to have one of those in our back pockets, finally,” said Hunt.
Cole Warken hit a three-run home run in the sixth, which came in his second at-bat of the inning. He ended up finishing 1-for-5 with four RBI, all in the sixth inning, and two runs scored.
Moose Jaw scored their 14 runs on ten hits and four walks. Seven of their ten hits came in the sixth and they also benefited from a pair of errors by the 57s in the frame.
“We put a lot of balls in play, making a lot of solid contact, and we stayed with an approach instead of scrapping it when it doesn’t work the first time,” said Hunt.
Lane Harvey finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Ty Schindel and Ben Dalke both hit doubles and scored a run.
Grant Westmoreland earned the win on the round, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks over three innings. He struck out two as his record improved to 2-1 in 11 appearances on the year.
Hunter Kloke started for Moose Jaw and surrendered five runs – four earned – on nine hits over four innings. He struck out two with no walks.
Arman Lakhani and Carter Sorenson combined to pitch the eighth inning with Lakhani allowing one run on two hits. Dalke shut the door in the ninth with a perfect inning and one strikeout.
Moose Jaw 8 Melville 6
On Friday, the Millers and Melville went back-and-forth early in the game, but Moose Jaw took over late for the win.
The Millionaires had a 6-4 lead after five innings, but the Millers scored twice in the seventh and eighth innings each to secure the bounce back win.
Dalke had a big game at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBI and one run, while Pate Katechis hit his second home run of the season, going 2-for-4 with a walk, one RBI and a run.
Dalke, Scott Platt, Travis Able and Lane Harvey all stole a base in the win as well.
On the mound, Jesse Marks started for the Millers, allowing five runs on seven hits over 3+ innings. He exited after allowing two runs on three hits to start the fourth with D.J. Martinez coming in to get three outs, including a double play to end the frame. Martinez ended up allowing one unearned run on two hits and one walk over three innings. He struck out two.
Travis Edgar walked one over one inning and Galen Andrews pitched one inning, allowing one hit and striking out two. Zach Fascia came on for the ninth inning and struck out two for the save.