Now that’s more like it.
The Moose Jaw Miller Express have seen their share of close losses through the first week and a half of the Western Major Baseball League season. It seemed like it was just a matter of time before the breaks that weren’t going their way suddenly changed course.
Their two games this past weekend brought that change.
The Express rallied late for a 9-5 victory over the Melville Millionaires on Saturday before putting together their best offensive outing of the season in a 14-6 win over the Yorkton Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.
The Express improved to 4-5 on the season and moved 2.5 games back of the Eastern Division-leading Regina Red Sox.
“We like those a lot better. We’ve been swinging the bats a lot better and we like winning, so we’ll take those ones for sure,” said catcher/designated hitter Zach Fascia, who has emerged as one of the Express’ top hitters in the opening weeks of the season.
“I think it’s just a matter of taking the same approach. We’ve had a bunch of really close games and just haven’t had the outcome we’ve wanted. It’s just that it’s starting to turn our way … We’ve been in every one so we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Fascia was one of the team’s top offensive performers in both contests, going 1-for-2 with a pair of runs scored and two runs batted in against Melville before putting together a 2-for-4 outing against Melville and adding another two runs and RBI.
“Coach has been working with me on a couple of things, so I’ve just been doing that, focusing on the process and executing,” Fascia said. “It’s been coming along really well.”
Seeing his troops break out offensively was naturally a positive for bench boss Michael Hunt, especially in combination with the team’s improved defence.
“Everything was at least average, which is what we’ve been preaching and hoping for,” Hunt said. “Obviously the offence was A-plus today and the defence was a solid A-minus and the pitching did the job and did what they needed to do.”
Grant Westmoreland picked up a spot start and gave up three hits and two runs in four innings of work Sunday. Arman Lakhani, D.J. Martinez, Carter Sorenson and Joshmar Doran combined to hold Yorkton to eight runs on six hits.
Ben Dalke led the offence against the Cardinals, going 4-for-5 with three runs and four RBI while hitting his third home run of the season. Pate Kotechis also had a round-tripper while going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs.
The Express led 4-3 heading into the seventh but scored five runs to take control of the game before adding another four in the eighth.
Against Melville, the Express wasted little time getting things off to a fast start as they scored five runs in the first. The Millionaires slowly chipped away and closed to within one 6-5 in the top of the eighth before Fascia hit a two-run double to score Travis Able and Lane Harvey. Fascia himself then scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Cook for further insurance.
“The floodgates build, build, build and then they break open,” said Hunt. “We hope what we saw the last couple games will be what we see the rest of the way.”
Hunter Kloke was the winning pitcher, giving up three runs and striking out five in five innings of work. Jesse Marks gave up three runs in two innings of relief; Tanner Emes pitched scoreless ninth.
Now that’s more like it.