Daniel Salters and Brian Mundell joked before Sunday's season finale that Salters, who was sitting on six home runs on the year, would catch Mundell, who was eight, to pull away. It's the way the Eau Claire Express three and four hitters interact.
Salters indeed homered to inch closer, but Mundell crushed one later in the game to pull away, and more importantly, give the Express a 7-1 victory in front of 2,764 people to end the year at Carson Park.
“There’s always friendly competition between us, and I think that makes us way better hitters,” Mundell said.
The power-hitting duo combined to go 6-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs in the contest.
Salters led the team with a .327 average to go along with his 40 RBIs on the year while Mundell was first in home runs at nine and second in RBIs at 33.
“I like that 3-4 combo," Salters said. "We definitely kind of protect each other.”
But plenty of others protected the Express victory Sunday night.
Salters drove in Peter Van Gansen in the first inning as the orange and black struck first.
In the third, Drew Turbin walked in Jeff Hendrix with the bases loaded to make it 2-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Express broke the game open as Salters launched his seventh homer of the summer. He snuck it just to the left of the right-field foul poul to smoke the fan deck. Mundell was on base and scored.
Before Mundell could respond, the local connection of Brady Burzynski and Sam Hurt dialed it up for the second straight night. The Memorial graduate Burzynski singled in the North product Hurt to make it 6-1.
Mundell's moonshot ended a the second consecutive 14-hit offensive explosion for the Express.
“We hit the ball really well yesterday, and kind of carried it over today,” Field Manager Dale Varsho said.
It was a rag tag but extremely effective performance on the mound for the Express.
Brett Seeburger started and went four innings while allowing just one hit.
Miles Nablo earned the win after throwing a scoreless inning.
Nick Davito and Dalton Roach both pitched scoreless innings as well. Conner Rusch gave up one run but worked his way out of trouble and secure his team-best 2.43 ERA.
Taylor Duree, who cranked it up to 94 MPH on the radar gun, closed out the season with a scoreless inning capped off by two strikeouts.
“It’s good for other guys to come in, and our bullpen was solid all day,” Varsho said.
The Express finish the season at 36-36 overall. They were competitive in both the first and second half playoff runs, getting eliminated in the final week of both halves. It is also the first time the team has finished at .500 or better since 2011.
“It’s been an absolute blast, great team and great teammates," Salters said. "I’m definitely going to miss it.”
Stay tuned the next couple of days for a season recap.