By Randy Palmer
June 19, 2022
Moose Jaw takes 10-7 victory Saturday, 8-3 win Sunday over West Division-leading Dawgs
If there were any questions as to whether the Moose Jaw Miller Express are one of the top teams in the Western Canadian Baseball League, they were answered and then some this past weekend.
The Express picked up a pair of victories over the West Division-leading Okotoks Dawgs in Okotoks, 10-7 on Saturday night before winning 8-3 in the rematch Sunday afternoon.
The two wins saw Moose Jaw move back into sole possession of first place in the East Division with an 11-6 record, a half-game up on the Swift Current 57’s.
Miller Express 10, Okotoks 7
Moose Jaw did almost all their damage in the middle innings, putting up a four-spot in the fourth and after the Dawgs answered back to tie the game 4-4, adding another five runs the next inning for a 9-4 edge.
Andrew Barger had a solid showing on the mound against one of the league’s hardest-hitting teams, allowing five runs on four hits over five innings. His pitching line could have been even better if not for six walks on the night, but the Millers offence saw to it that wouldn’t be a major factor.
Austin Gurney led the way with a 3-for-3 showing that included three runs and three RBIs, while Hunter Barrett was 2-for-4 including a two-run home run in the fifth inning, his first with Moose Jaw.
Cam Grant also had a solid day at the plate with a 2-for-4 showing that included a pair of doubles and three RBI. Nate Mensik and Parker Dorrance also scored two runs each.
With their comfortable lead, the Express turned to what will likely emerge as one of the top shutdown duos on the mound.
Jesse Scholtz tossed the sixth and seventh and uncharacteristically allowed a pair of runs on three hits, but with Reece Helland waiting in the wings, that would mark the end of the Okotoks offence.
The Moose Jaw Minor Baseball product was lights out in the final two innings, allowing a single baserunner on his way to picking up the save.
Miller Express 8, Okotoks 3
The Miller Express received a perfect look at what their pitching staff is capable of a little over 12 hours later.
Kellan Voggesser tossed his fourth quality start in five outings, allowing three runs, two earned, in six innings of work while scattering seven hits and striking out four.
Scholtz took over from there and in his league-leading 13th appearance of the season held Okotoks to only three hits over the next two innings. That set the stage for Helland, who allowed a single hit in the bottom of the ninth but shut things down from there and has yet to allow a run this season.
The Express hurlers certainly weren’t hurt by Moose Jaw’s offence once again striking early, with a five-run second inning putting them ahead 5-1. The Millers led 5-2 heading into the sixth, where Michael Speck would hit a two-run home run for his first round-tripper of the season. He’d finish the day 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBI.
Lead-off hitter Zach Campbell was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, Dorrance 1-for-5 with two RBI and Bryan Reyes 2-for-4 with a run scored.
The Miller Express are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the Regina Red Sox. Game time is 7 p.m. at Ross Wells Park.