By Randy Palmer
July 31, 2022

Five-run first inning sets tone as Express go on to 13-11 victory at Ross Wells Park

The Moose Jaw Miller Express looked like their mid-season selves on Saturday night, and the final result was the end of their longest losing streak of the season.

The Express scored five runs in the first inning against the Fort McMurray Giants, built an 8-1 lead through three and would hold on for a 13-11 victory in Western Canadian Baseball League action at Ross Wells Park.

The win snapped a seven-game losing skid dating back to last week, and saw the Express improve to 29-22 on the season, moving a half game up on the Regina Red Sox for first place in the East Division and two games up on the Swift Current 57’s.

But it all came with a bit of late-game drama.

The Miller Express got things going in a hurry. Zach Campbell drew a lead-off walk and came around to score on a Parker Dorrance single one batter later, and after Nate Mensik drew a walk, Austin Gurney would hit a three-run home run to make it 4-0 five batters into their half of the first.

Gurney would go on to have one of his best games of the season, a 4-for-5 outing that included two runs scored and four RBI. He’s now hitting .335, second best on the team behind Bryan Reyes at .355.

The Giants got three runs back in the fourth, but three runs over the next two frames saw Moose Jaw leading 11-5 through six.

And then things got very interesting indeed.

The Express turned to all-star reliever Jesse Scholtz in the top of the seventh and the baseball gods apparently decided to throw him a curveball for all his success this season. His final line on the night? Six runs allowed on four hits and a walk without getting an out.

By the time Schotlz left the game, four runs had scored, and closer Reece Helland was unable to stop the bleeding, with another two runs coming in before he was able to escape the inning. 

And just like that, it was an 11-11 game.

The Express weren’t about to let this one get away, though, and Gurney came through again in the bottom of the inning, with a two-out single scoring Dorrance with the eventual game-winning run.

Joe Osborn hit his second double of the game in the bottom of the eighth and came around to score on a Michael Speck single to close out scoring in the game.

Helland tossed two scoreless innings of relief after the seventh, finishing with two hits and seven strikeouts in earning the win.

Liam Sommer got the start for Moose Jaw and allowed four runs on five hits in 3 ? innings. Kaleb Waller took over in the fourth and continued his string of solid relief outings, holding the Giants without a hit over the next 1 ?. Livio Bundi allowed a run in the sixth while striking out the side, setting up the late-game dramatics.

The Miller Express are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Swift Current. Game time is 2:05 p.m.