By Randy Palmer – July 6th, 2023
Teams combine for seven home runs at Ross Wells Park as Moose Jaw goes on to 9-5 victory in Western Canadian Baseball League action
It didn’t take long for Moose Jaw Miller Express veteran Nate Mensik to have an impact after missing a month of the Western Canadian Baseball League season due to injury.
All of two pitches.
Mensik took the second pitch he saw from Okotoks Dawgs starter Ryan MacFarland just over the fence in centrefield, added another home run in the fourth inning and finished off his spectacular game with a diving catch to end the eighth inning as the Miller Express took a 9-5 victory over the Okotoks Dawgs at Ross Wells Park.
The win gave Moose Jaw a sweep in the two-game set against the defending WCBL champions and extended their win streak to five games. The Express are now 20-10 on the season and hold a five-game lead atop the East Division standings.
“It feels so good to be back, it’s been a long time, about a month, so it was really good to be back and playing with the guys,” Mensik said in post-game comments to the Millers’ Joe Gunnis. “They’ve been on the grind, so this is the least I could do for them.”
Mensik — who finished his night 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two runs batted in — wasn’t the only Express player to get off to a good start. Three batters after his round-tripper, Chaz Poppy cracked a three-run shot of his own to give Moose Jaw a 4-0 lead after the first inning.
The Express tacked on two more runs in the second and led 7-1 through four before Okotoks started using the long ball to their advantage, with a trio of solo home runs pulling the Dawgs back within three through six innings.
Okotoks made it a two-run game heading into the bottom of the eighth, but Austin Gurney and Dougie DelaCruz would score runs for Moose Jaw in the inning to make things a touch more comfortable.
Gurney crossed the plate twice for the Express, while DelaCruz had a 3-for-4 night.
On the mound, Matt Vasquez was his usual solid self, allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out four over five innings. Zach Sigmon allowed a run on two hits in the sixth before Haldon Craig surrendered a run on two hits in the seventh and eighth. Brayan Villar finished things off with a scoreless ninth.
The Express have Thursday off but are back in action Friday night for a doubleheader against the Weyburn Beavers. The first game goes at 6 p.m. at Ross Wells Park.