By Randy Palmer – July 16th 2023
Seven players, including late addition Nate Mensik, make trip to Okotoks for annual showcase of best in WCBL
The Moose Jaw Miller Express were well represented at the 2023 Western Canadian Baseball League All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon in Okotoks.
And then some.
A total of seven players — outfielder Dougie DelaCruz, catcher Wyatt Tweet, pitcher Brayan Villar, infielder Austin Gurney, pitcher Haldon Craig, infielder Dawson Tweet and late-addition outfielder Nate Mensik — were joined by head coach Eric Marriott and assistant coach Michael Gonzalez at the annual showcase of the best-of-the-best in the WCBL.
Things didn’t go as well as the local crew hoped, though, as Team East dropped a 10-4 decision to Team West in front of over 6,000 fans at Seaman Stadium.
Five members of the Express were in the starting line-up, as Dawson Tweet batted second and played third base, Gurney hit clean-up and played first, Wyatt Tweet played catcher and hit sixth, DelaCruz batted seventh and played left field and Villar got the start on the mound.
Gurney drove in a run in the fifth inning as the East took a 4-1 lead, but the bottom half of the frame saw the West hit a pair of home runs and build a 6-4 edge they’d never look back from.
Gurney also saw action in the Home Run Derby and sent seven out of the park in his three-minute round, finishing second behind Swift Current’s Ethan Murdoch’s eighth homers as best in the East.
Kalem Haney of the Lethbridge Bulls was named the All Star Game MVP.
How the seven Miller Express reached the All Star Game most certainly wasn’t a mystery.
Second-year veteran Tweet has been a hitting machine since the start of the season, carrying an average above .500 through the majority of the first half of the campaign. Tweet currently boasts a league-best .478 average while also leading in hits (64), doubles (12) and triples (three).
Younger brother Wyatt Tweet was hitting .409 to go along with three home runs heading into the Game despite seeing action in only 18 games due to injury.
DelaCruz cracked the line-up after hitting .331 with five doubles, two home runs and 15 runs batted in through 33 games.
Gurney earned his spot after hitting .269 with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBI.,
On the mound, Villar has been among the league leaders all season with a 2.42 earned run average, having allowed only six runs in 22 ? innings to go along with 22 strikeouts and only six walks.
Reliever Haldon Craig has made 14 appearances, allowing only six earned runs over 24 ? innings, with his 2.21 ERA and 28 strikeouts among the best among league relievers.
Mensik — also an All Star in 2022 — was a late addition thanks to missing a month of the season due to injury. He’s been on fire since coming back, though, and is hitting .343 with two home runs, 11 RBI and four doubles in 20 games.