After two games of missed opportunities, the Moose Jaw Miller Express made the most of each chance during Game 3 against the Weyburn Beavers.
The Millers scored five runs in the first inning and cruised to a 9-4 win over the Beavers at Ross Wells Park to extend their best-of-five first round Western Major Baseball League playoff series. Weyburn now leads 2-1.
"We went in with nothing to lose, we're just going to go in, have some fun, try to extend our season and it paid off, guys were loose at the plate, it was fun to watch," said Millers designated hitter Brooks Benson.
The offence was clicking right from the start as Moose Jaw opened with six of their first seven hitters reaching base during a five-run first inning. They would keep it going to build up a 9-1 lead after three innings and that was more than enough on the night.
Millers starting pitcher Ryder Yakel kept the Beavers' dangerous offence in check throughout the game, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.
"I knew had to pitch well because they're a very good hitting team and so I mostly just tried to stay in and my slider was a lot better today than it was the last time I pitched against them, so that was big," said Yakel.
The Millers had been hoping their offence could break out during this series with strong pitching and defence throughout the season.
Yakel said after the offence came to life, he just tried to make sure the Beavers couldn't get going as well.
"Coach says when we have a big lead like that, don't try to be too fine, painting corners, just try to get it in there and don’t waste balls," said Yakel. "I was just pitching to contact and trying to get outs."
Tannar Galey came on after Yakel and allowed one run on two hits and one walk with one strike out in the eighth, while Logan Hoffman surrendered one run on two hits and a walk in the ninth, he struck out three to finish off the game.
Benson helped kickstart the offence with a 3-for-4 night at the plate, while pitcher turned outfielder Mitchell Robinson had a three-run triple in the first inning.
Outfielders Eric Marriott and Ty Schindel set the tone at the top of the lineup. Marriott was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk and a stolen base, while Schindel was 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and an RBI.
Third baseman John Prudhom led off the third inning with a home run, which Schindel followed up two batters later with a solo shot of his own.
"Game 1 and 2 was very frustrating, but having that kind of game will definitely boost our confidence a bit," said Benson.
The Millers were able to chase Weyburn starter Landon Mostellar in the second inning as he was tagged for seven runs on eight hits and one walk over 1 1/3 innings. He struck out two.
Conner DiNaro struck out seven over 5 2/3 innings of relief, while Cam Williams threw a perfect eighth inning for Beavers.
Moose Jaw and Weyburn will meet for Game 4 at Ross Wells Park on Friday night. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
If necessary, Game 5 will be on Saturday in Weyburn.