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Miller Express win third straight as WCBL playoffs near

Six-run ninth inning paves the way for 11-6 victory over Swift Current 57’s
Express Med Hat third base lineup
The Moose Jaw Miller Express are tied for first place in the East Division heading into the final days of the regular season.

The Moose Jaw Miller Express appear to have regained their game at just the right time.

With three contests left in the Western Canadian Baseball League season, the Express won their third straight on Tuesday night in Swift Current, taking an 11-6 victory over the 57’s to remain in first place in the East Division.

But they’re no longer alone.

Thanks to back-to-back wins over last-place Weyburn on Monday and Tuesday, the Regina Red Sox have pulled into a tie for first, with each team holding 31-22 records. Swift Current is also 3 ½ games back with four games to play, meaning a single Moose Jaw or Regina win through the remainder of the week will guarantee first or second place.

Sure enough, those two teams are exactly who the Miller Express will be facing the next two nights -- the 57’s for the final time this season on Wednesday, followed by an epic clash with the Red Sox on Thursday night at Ross Wells Park.

That contest will not only likely decide first place in the East Division, it will also settle the Trans-Canada Clash season series between Moose Jaw and Regina. The Express led the series 5-1 back on July 2, but four-straight Red Sox wins in four days a week later tied things up 5-5, setting up Thursday’s deciding match-up.

Things didn’t look great in the early going on Tuesday, as the 57’s staked themselves to a 6-0 lead through four innings.

That all changed in the fifth, though, as the Express offence came alive. They’d bat through their order, scoring five runs on six hits to all of a sudden trail by a single run. Bryan Reyes had the big hit in the inning, a two-run double that brought home Zach Campbell and Parker Dorrance.

Swift Current held their one-run lead until the ninth when Moose Jaw broke things completely open.

Luke Shekeryk had a two-run double and Greyson Barrett a two-run single to key a six-run inning, and just like that, the Express had an 11-6 edge heading into the bottom of the ninth.

That the Express were in striking distance in the first place was largely the product of an impressive relief showing from Ethan Merk.

Kaleb Waller got the start for Moose Jaw and allowed five runs on eight hits over three innings, striking out three.

That set the stage for Merk, who would hold Swift Current to only two hits over the next five innings, striking out a pair and walking two. The former Regina A’s standout has now made four appearances and held the opponent scoreless in three of those.

He’d end up with the win, and closer Reece Helland would make no mistake in picking up the save, striking out a pair in the bottom of the ninth.

Campbell had a solid day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, while Reyes was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Joe Osborn also had a pair of hits in four trips to the plate, hitting a double and scoring a pair of runs; Greyson Barrett was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

Game times for Wednesday’s contest against Swift Current and Thursday’s game against Regina are both 7:05 p.m.