07/18/2013 8:43 AM
The Moose Jaw Miller Express and Saskatoon Yellow Jackets gave the fans a game worth their money on Wednesday night at Ross Wells Park.
The Millers ended up winning the back-and-forth game, 8-7, on a walk-off home run by Hank Stewart in the tenth inning, giving them their fourth straight win in Western Major Baseball League action.
“Trust me that felt good right off the bat, I knew that one was gone,” said Stewart after being mobbed by his teammates at home plate. “That was a hanging curveball, I knew it was going to be either a curveball or fastball and was sitting it. When Corso got out, I made it clear to myself that I was swing for the fences and it worked out.”
Stewart went to the plate having gone 0-for-4 on the night up until that point, but he made no mistake on a 2-2 pitch, drilling it over the left field wall to send the crowd home happy.
“Hank's been good for a hit, or two hits, a game and he was 0-for-4 at the time, so that was a big one to get his first of the day,” said head coach Michael Hunt.
The win moves the Millers 1.5 games ahead of the Yellow Jackets in the Central Division standings with three games left between the two teams this season, as they battle it out for the final playoff spot.
“Everyone counts, so that's a big, big win against a division opponent, so it's nice to get it,” said Hunt. “We've been preaching that for the last 3-4 games because every game that we win it's a little extra cushion. They're not playing that bad of baseball either, so we have to make sure we can take care of business when we can.”
The game swung back-and-forth throughout with neither team able to get any real breathing room. Saskatoon took a 4-0 lead in the third inning, but a grand slam by Michael Corso in the bottom half of the inning, combined with an RBI single by Miles Hunter put Moose Jaw in front 5-4.
The Yellow Jackets were able to tie the game in the top of the fourth, but Moose Jaw answered back with one of their own in the bottom half to go back up 6-5. Saskatoon would tie it again though in the fifth.
The score stayed tied at 6-6 until the top of the eighth inning when Saskatoon's Jake Moore drove in his fifth run of the game to put the Yellow Jackets on top 7-6. He had a three-run home run in the third and a solo shot in the fifth, and finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs.
Moose Jaw answered back in the bottom of the eight when Ben Bridges doubled home Hunter Johnson.
After neither team got anything going in the ninth, we were off to extras. Paul McMahon cruised through the Saskatoon batters 1-2-3 to set up his team for the win in the bottom half. Corso struck out and Stewart made no mistake as the next batter up, winning the game in dramatic fashion.
“We kept matching, they put a couple up and we came right back, they put one up and we came right back,” said Hunt. “For the fellas to do that stuff, it's really nice to see. It was bend, bend, bend, but don't break.”
We knew coming that this was a huge game, we really had to take this one, and it was intense the whole time, just glad it came out in our favour,” added Stewart.
Todd Leavitt kept the Millers in the game through seven innings. He struck out ten Saskatoon batters, while allowing six runs on ten hits. McMahon got the win, pitching two innings of relief and giving up just one hit.
Jacob Hein was effective for the Yellow Jackets as he kept the Millers off balance over his 7 2/3 innings, but ended up getting tagged for seven runs on nine hits. Bryce Bush took the loss, coming in for the tenth inning.
The win was the Millers' fourth straight, which matches their longest winning streak from the start of the month. It also improves their record to 18-19 and puts them five games back of Swift Current for top spot in the division.
Next up is Weyburn, who come to Ross Wells Park on Thursday night. Marshall Dean (3-3) will get the start. First pitch is at 7:05pm.