By Randy Palmer

Back-and-forth battle sees Moose Jaw score game-winning run in top of ninth to take 9-8 victory

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM — The Moose Jaw MIller Express didn’t have a lot of luck against the Regina Red Sox in the first two meetings of the Trans Canada Clash, but things finally went their way on Saturday night.

The Express built an 8-7 lead through six innings before holding off the Red Sox in the ninth to take a 9-8 victory in Western Canadian Baseball League action in Regina.

The victory was the second straight for Moose Jaw and sees the local crew improve to 14-13, moving within 5 ½ games of the Red Sox for first place in the East Division as well as a half game back of the Medicine Hat Mavericks for second.

As the score would indicate, the contest was a barnburner from start to finish.

Regina picked up a run in each of the first two innings, but the Express would take the lead for good with a four-run third. Austin Gurney provided the big hit of the inning, with his two-run double knocking home Thomas Soto and Nathan Houston with the go-ahead runs.

The teams exchanged a pair of runs in the fourth, and after Moose Jaw went up 8-4 in the sixth thanks to a two-run single from Declan O’Hare that scored Gurney and Nate Mensik, Regina came back with three runs in the sixth to trail by one 8-7.

That set the stage for the ninth inning, and with the way the rest of the game had gone, it shouldn’t be a surprise that things became very interesting.

After Wyatt Tweet scored what would turn out to be a crucial insurance run in the top of the inning, Regina’s Jackson Alaniz would score on a wild pitch in the bottom of the frame to get the Red Sox within one.

Silas Butler — who had reached on a single on the previous at bat — advanced to third on the same play, putting the game tying run in scoring position with only one out.

Express reliever Westin Walls would get Michael Pavelchak to fly out to Robert Estrada on the next at bat, and the left fielder would gun down Butler at home to give Moose Jaw the win.

Soto, Houston, O’Hare and Darren Hagan all had three hits on the night, with O’Hare also knocking in three runs. Soto, Houston, Gurney and Mensik all scored a pair of runs each, while Gurney also had two RBI.

Regina’s offence was led by Jackson Syring, who went 3-for-4 with a double, run scored and three RBI.

Cameron Dunn had a decent start on the mound for the Express, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out five over 3 ?. Jaden Canelli allowed a pair of runs before getting the final two outs in the fourth, while Ethan Merk gave up a single hit and tossed a scoreless fifth. Standout starter Matt Vasquez had a rare off night in relief, giving up three runs on two hits without getting an out in the sixth.

Jacob Castaneda took over from there and was all but lights out, allowing a single hit over 2 ? to earn the win. Walls got the final two outs of the eighth before earning the save in the ninth.

Dan Crabtree got the start for Regina and surrendered six runs on 11 hits over five innings, Aiden Page allowed two runs on five hits over the next three innings and Ty Fortin tossed the ninth, giving up the game-winning run.

The Miller Express have three games in the first half of the upcoming week, as they take on the Edmonton Prospects on Monday (6:05 p.m.) and Tuesday (7:05 p.m.) at Ross Wells Park before travelling to Weyburn on Wednesday.