Even with Mountain Man from A&E's reality TV show "Duck Dynasty" in the house, the Eau Claire Express could never climb past an early deficit Wednesday in a 4-3 loss to Thunder Bay in front of 2,703 people at Carson Park.
Even though the Express only had three runs on six hits, they stranded 11 runners while burning through six Thunder Bay pitchers.
Thunder Bay scored two early runs off Express starter CJ Eldred, but Eau Claire chipped away when Daniel Salters played fundamental ball and scored Brady Burzynski on a groundout.
The Border Cats responded with two in the top of the sixth, and Eau Claire squandered a golden opportunity to take control of the game.
The Express loaded the bases and burned through three pitchers in the bottom of the seventh while sending seven men to the plate. The only run was scored on a double play ball. Jeff Hendrix came around to touch home plate on the play.
In the bottom of the eighth, the orange and black had men on second and third with nobody out when Brian Mundell led off with a single and Jack Zoellner doubled.
Hendrix drove in Mundell on a sacrifice fly, but the next play defined the game for the Express. Burzynski slashed a hit over the third baseman's head, and third base coach Matt MIller sent Zoellner home.
The throw and tag from left field just beat a head-first sliding Zoellner. The Express didn't score at all after that.
Eau Claire finishes the season 5-3 against the Border Cats. Eau Claire still remains one half game ahead of Willmar in the North Division second half standings.
Eau Claire travels to Rochester starting Thursday to take on the Honkers for a two-game series. First pitch tomorrow at Mayo Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.