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Published On: August 9th, 2014

Box Score

It was set up perfectly.

With the bases loaded in an 8-5 game, Daniel Salters, the Express slugging All-Star with three hits already on the night, stepped up to the plate.

And he hit the ball hard. Unfortunately, right at the Mankato MoonDogs second baseman for a 4-6-3 double play to end things by the same score in front of 2,011 people at Carson Park.

The MoonDogs, who moved into first place in the second half standings with the win, made all the right moves in all the right places against an Express team that outhit them by five.

In the first inning after two seeing eye hits, the MoonDogs got a sacrifice fly and two-run home run from Levi Scott to make it 3-0 right away.

“The very first at-bat, they had a little bloop over the shortstop, and that sort of set the tone,” Express centerfielder Jeff Hendrix said.

The Express responded when local connections Brady Burzynski and Sam Hurt hooked up for a run. Burzynski, a Memorial graduate, singled in Hurt, a North graduate.

The MoonDogs got a run in the top of the fourth, but Eau Claire got right back at it in the bottom of the fifth.

Peter Van Gansen doubled in Hurt, and Hendrix knocked in Burzynski on a groundout.

After the MoonDogs got two in the top of the seventh, a pinch-hit two-run homer by Brinn Bell brought the lead to 8-3 and seemingly out of reach. The Mankato benched exploded as Bell's ball went soaring into the Eau Claire night.

Hendrix chipped away at the lead with his fifth home run of the year and first at Carson Park. The Oregon State outfielder only hit two all year in Corvallis, Ore., but he has seen his power numbers go way up this summer in the Northwoods League.

“I’ve just been focusing in the weight room, getting a little stronger, and that’s definitely helping,” he said.

Eau Claire rallied and loaded the bases with one in the ninth. Brian Mundell crushed a single in the hole to score Burzynski before Salters bounced into the game-ending double play.

Tomorrow is the final game of 2014 for the Express. They face the MoonDogs once again with a first pitch at 5:05 on Fan Appreciation Night.