The Moose Jaw Miller Express and seven other teams sit nine wins away from making their summer of hard work worthwhile.
For Moose Jaw, they may be heading into the post-season on a mini-slide, but that hasn’t effected the team’s confidence as they get set to face off with the Medicine Hat Mavericks in the first round of the Western Major Baseball League playoffs.
The reason behind the Millers’ confidence is they’ve been able to find success against their first round opponent, going 4-0 during the regular season series with the Mavericks.
“The guys are certainly confident and positive going in,” said head coach Michael Hunt. “They know that it’s a team that we’ve played well against during the season and things have lined up with our pitching rotation.”
The Millers will be able to throw their top two arms out there for games one and two with Terry McNabb (8-1 2.47 ERA) and Brandon Acosta (5-3 3.17) both rested and ready to go.
McNabb led the WMBL in strikeouts with 73 in nine starts, while Acosta was seventh with 54 in 12 appearances.
“Whenever your rotation is lined up and you’ve got the guys that have given you the bulldog effort all through the season to get you started, it gives you a little vote of confidence,” said Hunt. “You don’t have to grip the bat quite as tight because you know that the guy on the hill is going to back you up.”
While the pitching is set up nicely, it’s going to be the bats for Moose Jaw that are going to decide whether or not they make it through to the second round. The Millers outscored the Mavericks 34-22 in their four meetings this season.
“We saw some of their better pitchers and we had them figured out,” said Hunt. “We just hope that we’re going to be able to keep it rolling against them going into (the playoffs).”
In their four games, the Millers faced the same two starting pitchers going against Kalei Contrades and Jon Rand. Moose Jaw gave Contrades his two worst outings of the season and then against Rand, they picked up ten and nine hits in two games.
“It’s going to take the entire lineup,” said Hunt. “This is the playoffs, the second season, guys find an extra gear, so one through nine we have to be clicking on all cylinders.”
The Millers will have the benefit of adding outfielder Miles Hunter back into the lineup to start the series. Hunter was a catalyst for the Millers throughout the first half of the season and will provide a spark to a lineup that includes WMBL Rookie of the Year Aidan Stinnett.
The first round gets underway on Friday night with the Millers and Mavericks hitting the field at Athletic Park. First pitch is at 7:05pm, tune in live at mjmillerexpress.com.
Game two goes on Saturday in Medicine Hat and then the series shifts back to Moose Jaw for game three on Sunday and game four, if necessary, on Monday.