Hot start doesn’t hold up versus eight unanswered runs from the Express.

BISMARCK, ND – The magic of game number one came to a halt in game number two as the Eau Claire Express defeated the Bismarck Larks 8-3 on Wednesday night at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, Home of Dakota Community Bank and Trust field.

The Larks came out firing on all cylinders as they scored a run in each of their first three innings of play. Noah Sadler (Illinois State), the new addition to the Larks roster for the ballgame, had two out of the three RBI in first third of the contest. A sacrifice fly driving in David Salguiero in the first and an RBI double in driving in Spencer Gillund in the third.

However, that’s why they play nine innings.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Express responded with two runs to cut into the Larks lead. Brian Grove (Iowa Western Community College) drew a walk and Luke Eldred (Dallas Baptist University) got on via an error to begin the top of the fourth frame. The error came back to haunt the Larks as both Grove and Eldred came around to score.

After a quiet inning from the Larks in the bottom of the fourth, with the score at 3-2, Parker Harm (North Dakota State University) came in for Larks starter Alex Ross (Johns Hopkins University) to take over in the fifth inning. Hoping to hold the fort down Harm gave up four runs while making an error of his own overthrowing college teammate Mason Pierzchalski (North Dakota State University) at first base.

Harm wasn’t able to finish the bottom of the fifth inning for the Larks recording just one out in his Larks debut. Connor Hilburn (Lakeland University) relieved Harm striking out two straight Express hitters to avoid further trouble.

The bats went silent for a second consecutive inning in the bottom frame of the fifth as the Larks attempted to cut into their 6-3 deficit. Pierzchalski grounded into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play to cut off hope of inching the Larks back into the ballgame.

Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh inning where the Larks found themselves trailing 7-3 due to the Express adding on another run thanks to RBI groundout by Grove. The Larks now facing relief pitcher Austin George (Charleston University) were trying to bounce back after starting pitcher for the Express, Travis Berg (University of Minnesota, Duluth), completed six innings while allowing just three hits.

The Larks went down with nothing to show on the scoreboard and much of the same happened all the way up until the final out of the ballgame.

Out of relief, George threw two innings of shutout baseball and Victor Chavez (Scottsdale CC) struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to ensure the Express’ first victory on the 2017 Northwoods League season.

The Express finished with eight unanswered runs after trailing 3-0 early on. The Express combined the scoring barrage with eight strikeouts after the completion of five innings of play. Those two ingredients were the game winning recipe to put Eau Claire on top.

Two games. Two very different results. Field Manager Sean Repay attributed that to starting pitching.  

The team struck out 12 batters in each of the first two contests, but allowed 10 walks in tonight’s ball game. Quite a big difference compared to the zero free passes they dished out on Opening Night.  

“I really feel like that was a momentum killer for us,” Repay said.  “But we’re gonna have games like this. It’s baseball.”  

Attacking hitters is the main focus of Repay’s coaching philosophy. If pitchers do that like they did in game one, the team will have some early success as the guys continue to get used to playing in this new atmosphere.   

“As long as we keep attacking hitters we’re gonna be just fine,” Repay said.  “It just goes to show what we’re capable of doing when we get our mindsets right.  We’ll have them right tomorrow and for the next series going forward.”

The Larks return to action tomorrow night against the visiting Thunder Bay Border Cats with the first pitch set for 7:05pm. The Larks will have their first opportunity to grasp a bounceback victory on the young 2017 season.

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The Bismarck Larks are apart of the proven leader in the development of 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, more than 170 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 website. For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

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