The Moose Jaw Miller Express held their annual awards night on Tuesday, honouring the top players and performers from the past Western Canadian Major Baseball League season.
And when it came time to announce the team’s Most Valuable Player, there was little surprise.
First-year Express outfielder/pitcher Michael Borst was a standout from the first week of the season as he quickly established himself as one of the top hitters in the league. A senior from Minot State via McHenry, Ill., Borst would lead the Express in hitting with a .382 average, fourth in the WCBL, along with a .574 slugging percentage and 1.018 on-base-plus-slugging average. He added six home runs, eight doubles and two triples to his offensive totals, capping the campaign with 32 runs batted in.
That wasn’t the extent of Borst’s contributions, either, as the 6-foot-3, 225-pound right hander quickly evolved into one of the team’s top pitchers, despite seeing no mound action during the past season at Minot State. He finished the WCBL season with a 3-1 record in nine starts – including a 10-inning, three-hit no decision against Melville on June 23 – while putting together a 4.31 earned run average and 1.12 walks and hits per inning pitched.
Winning the Silver Slugger award as the Express’ top hitter was Borst’s Minot State teammate Geordie McDougall, who capped the campaign with a .279 average, .474 slugging and .839 OPS. The second-year senior third baseman also showed an impressive boost in power in his senior season, cracking eight home runs and 33 RBI to lead the team in both categories.
The Pitcher of the Year award was shared by Michael Ross and Matt Jackson, two of the Express’ most effective starters throughout the season.
Ross recorded a 6-3 record through six starts, putting together a 4.47 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while recording 60 strikeouts in the process. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound sophomore from Tiffin University included a complete game victory over Brooks on July 11, where he racked up 10 Ks.
Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound sophomore righthander from Emporia State College, was hit with the no-decision bug much of the season, finishing with a 2-1 record despite allowing more than three runs only once though his seven starts, with one of his top performances coming against the Regina Red Sox on July 24 when he gave up only one run through eight innings. His overall numbers for the season were especially impressive as he finished with a 2.86 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, recording 37 strikeouts in the process.
Claiming the Gold Glove award was centrefielder Eric Marriott, one of six Express players hailing from Mitchell College. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound senior speedster saw action in 47 games in the outfield, recording 89 put-outs and a pair of assists with only one error, good enough a stellar .989 save percentage
Winning the Coach’s Award was catcher Markus Melendez. Express head coach Rich Sorenson lauded the 5-foot-10, 185-pound backstop’s ability to see the game and connection with his pitchers and the team’s coaching staff. The Mitchell College senior hit .223 for the season with four doubles and 14 RBI.
The Most Inspirational Award was a lock before it was even announced, even if it was rather unusual: coach Rich Sorenson. The first-year bench boss battled appendicitis midway through the season, working games despite feeling unwell before finally needing surgery. He spent a week in hospital recovering from a system-wide infection before returning to the team for the stretch drive.