The Millers will travel to Regina for an exhibition game against Quebec’s Diamond Academy on Aug. 3, part of a cross-Canada tour the prestigious baseball club is making through westerrn Canada.
“This is the team that’s usually in Canadians from Quebec every year, so they’re going to be a strong team, no doubt in my mind,” said Tony Dreger, one of the coaches with the Miller Express. “And I think it’s pretty exciting for our kids, especially to face a team of that calibre.”
Anyone who followed the Moose Jaw All-Stars’ run through the Little League Canada national championship in 2019 will be plenty familiar with Diamond Academy. They handed the All-Stars a 14-7 defeat in their opening game and would go on to drop the final to Coquitlam, B.C.
With the national tournament cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic, Diamond is taking a three-week journey west that will include stops in Ontario, Regina, Alberta and B.C.
“It’s pretty cool that they’re coming,” Dreger said. “Honestly, they could have just skipped Saskatchewan and went straight to B.C. and played five or six games out there, but they didn’t, so that’s a pretty big deal and we can’t wait for the opportunity.”
Dreger is under no illusions that Diamond will be a soft touch. When you’re pretty much the de facto representative for your province on an annual basis -- teams from Diamond have represented Quebec every year since 2016 -- it’s a given you’re going to be able to play some ball.
The key for the youthful Miller Express will be to gain some experience and learn what it takes to play at that level, so when their 10 returning players are 12-year-olds next year, they’ll know what it’s all about.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience for our kids,” Dreger said. “It’s about ‘where do you want to get to, and this is where you’ll need to be in order to compete next year’. It’s about the stepping stone for next year, getting that experience and the knowledge and the right mental mindset to play at that level… it’s all about maturing and growing.”
The Express will face Diamond at 1 p.m. on Aug. 3 before taking on North Regina in an exhibition game at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile Moose Jaw and North Regina were on the field for game two of their provincial tournament on Friday night, with Regina taking an 11-3 victory to go up 2-0 in the best-of five series.
The game was tied 1-1 through three innings before Regina scored three in the fourth, five more in the fifth and tacked on two in the sixth to secure the win.
Takeo Smith scored a pair of runs for Moose Jaw, while Ryker Kretsch crossed the plate with their other marker. Emery Schoenroth and Avery Nielson each reached base three times.
The series now reverts to Regina for the remaining games, with Game 3 on Sunday.