BISMARCK, ND – Usually when 21 total hits are recorded in a ballgame, the game turns out to be a very high scoring affair. That was not the case with Saturday’s Bismarck Larks and Eau Claire Express game.
Thanks to a 9th inning filled with fluky plays, the Express beat the Larks by a final score of 9-2 to end the Larks’ four-game winning streak. The pitching matchup was actually an exciting one to watch, despite the 21 total hits.
Eau Claire starter Ryan Zimmerman allowed just six Larks hits in his six innings of work and kept the Larks from getting into an offensive rhythm.
On the flip side, Carson Selin went 7.2 innings strong and surrendered just five earned runs on 11 Express hits. Despite the double-digit hits, Selin managed to go nearly eight full innings because he didn’t issue a single walk. Selin made the Express hitters earn their way on base every time.
The Larks were able to jump out to an early lead in the 2nd inning when Cooper Coldiron brought home Wyatt Ulrich with an RBI single to center field.
In the top of the 3rd, the Express responded with three runs of their own with three hits off of Selin to take a 3-1 lead.
Eau Claire would add two more runs in the top of the 5th inning on three hits and a Bismarck throwing error. The 3rd and 5th innings were the only innings Eau Claire was able to string hits together and push runs across against Selin.
Trailing 5-1 entering the 8th, the Larks loaded the bases with nobody out and looked like they were poised to get back into the game and maybe even retake the lead.
With one out, Quinn Irey smacked a ball into the gap in left-center field. Had the wind not been blowing in, it most likely would have been a game-tying grand slam for the hometown hero.
Instead, the ball was knocked down by the wind and caught at the wall by center fielder Zach Gilles. Ryan Anderson would tag up and score from third, but the play did not end the way Irey and the Larks thought it would. What could have been a tied ballgame turned into the Larks trailing by three entering the 9th.
In the 9th, Irey and relief pitcher David Manasek had a tough time preventing base runners from taking extra bases. Eau Claire stole five bases in the top of the 9th and also took extra bases on a wild pitch, a passed ball, a balk, and a throwing error from Irey. Manasek walked three hitters and hit one with a pitch, and the Express scored four runs in the inning despite not recording a hit.
The Larks went quietly in the bottom half and the winning streak came to an end at four as the Express took game one 9-2.
Zimmerman was the winning pitcher in the game, improving his record to 2-2. He allowed just one earned run on six hits while walking just two and striking out six.
Selin took a tough loss after throwing deep into the ballgame. His record drops to 2-3 on the season after his longest outing as a Lark in just his second start. Selin allowed five earned runs but did not walk a single batter.
All things considered, the starting pitching from both sides was solid. Twenty-one total hits can lead one to think otherwise, but both Zimmerman and Selin kept walks at a minimum and didn’t allow free bases.
The top of the batting order led the charge for the Express. Zach Gilles and Zach Ashford each had two hits, and Kyle Marinconz added three. Combined, the trio scored five runs and recorded five RBIs.
With 10 hits for the Larks, there are some offensive bright spots. Ryan Anderson was 2-for-4 in the game to build on his recent success as he has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. Cooper Coldiron was also 2-for-4, making him 10 for his last 21.
The two teams are back in action tomorrow at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark with afternoon start time is set for 3:05 pm.
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The Bismarck Larks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.bismarcklarks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Larks as your favorite team.