After some odd weather on Thursday in Mequon, Wis. that left the Express game with the Chinooks suspended due to fog, the teams picked up where they left off in the top of the fourth inning and played two on Friday night at Kapco Park. Eau Claire took the first game 9-2 before losing the second game 9-4.
Prior to the suspension Thursday, The Express held a 4-2 lead. The Express started off the scoring quickly, with Jeff Hendrix leading the game off with a triple. He then scored on a Mike Porcaro fielder’s choice. After a Daniel Salters strikeout, Tyler Hermann doubled to advance Porcaro to third. Drew Turbin was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Jack Zoellner cleared them with a three-run double to give the Express four runs in the first. The Chinooks would answer with one in the bottom of the frame when Brant Valach had an RBI groundout to second base. The Chinooks would add one more in the second on an RBI double by Kyle Wood to make the score 4-2 before the suspension in the fourth.
The Express would score three more in the fifth inning as play resumed on Friday. Daniel Salters started off the scoring with a sacrifice fly. Tyler Hermann followed with an RBI double and the scoring for the inning was finished off with an RBI single by Drew Turbin. The scoring would be finished off in the seventh on another single by Drew Turbin and an RBI groundout by Brent Gibbs. Aron McRee was outstanding in pitching all six innings on Friday as play resumed. He gave up only four hits and no runs, striking out three.
Game two didn’t go quite as well for the Express, as Andy Davis had a tough start. In 3.2 innings pitched, the right-hander gave up seven earned runs on seven hits. The Express picked up a two-run lead after three innings on a run-scoring wild pitch in the second and on a Daniel Salters single in the third.
Davis would run into trouble in the fourth, however, as Lakeshore plated seven runs in the frame. Brett Siddall singled with one out in the frame followed by a hit by pitch for Michael Morman. Ryan Krill and Brant Valach followed with RBI singles to give the Chinooks their first two runs. Catcher Zach Bowers followed with an RBI double and would score himself on a groundout to second by Kyle Wood. With the score 4-2 in favor of the Chinooks, centerfielder Luke Meeteer and shortstop Blake Butler would follow with back-to-back home runs to score three more and make the score 7-2 and chase Davis from the game.
Justin Jaquish replaced Davis and didn’t fare much better in the fifth, giving up two more runs. Brett Siddall would start the inning with a single, advanced to second on a groundout and then to third on a single by Brant Valach. He would score on a wild pitch to give the Chinooks an 8-2 lead. Valach would advance to second on the same wild pitch and was eventually plated by an RBI single by Zach Bowers to finish off the scoring for Lakeshore and give them a 9-2 lead.
The Express started the comeback in the seventh as they have so many times late in games this year. Mike Barajas gave the Express their first base runner with a one-out walk. Brady Burzynski would follow with a walk of his own. Centerfielder Jeff Hendrix struck out swinging to take the Express to their final out. Third baseman Tyler Hermann would do his part to keep the game alive, scoring Barajas and advancing Burzynski to third on a single. Daniel Salters would draw a bases loaded walk to score Burzynski and make the score 9-4. With the bases loaded, the Express still had hope as slugger Brian Mundell came to the plate. Mundell struck out swinging to end the game and the Express hopes of a series sweep.
The Express head to St. Cloud on Saturday and Sunday to face the Rox. First pitch Saturday is at 6:05 and Sunday’s game is at 5:05. You can hear all the action on Mix 98.1 FM with Pete Knutson having the call. Eau Claire returns home on Monday for the first of two split doubleheaders for the season. The fun begins early in the morning with a pitching clinic at Gelein Field from 9:30-10:30. Activities resume at 10:30 on the Hank Aaron Plaza with inflatables, face painting, yard games and autograph signings. Gates open at 11:00 and first pitch is at noon. All kids K-12 receive free admission, a hot dog and soda compliments of the day’s sponsor, Marshfield Clinic. The Express take on the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and then travel to Wisconsin Rapids after the day game for a nightcap at Witter Field starting at 7:05.