Express rally falls short

Late fireworks don’t come as Eau Claire falls to Willmar again

Box ScoreVirtual Game Day Program

After fighting back from two different deficits during Saturday’s game at Carson Park the Eau Claire Express had the makings of a third one.

But they stranded runners on the corners in the ninth inning to end up losing 4-3 to the Willmar Stingers for the sixth time in eight days.

After a first inning sacrifice fly put the Stingers ahead in the first inning, an RBI single from second baseman Sam Hurt tied the game in the bottom of the third to make the score 1-1.

However Willmar was able to strike back the next inning with back to back doubles and capitalized on an Express error to put them back on top 3-1.

Designated hitter Nathan Krause launched his first home run of the season with a bomb to left field to cut the deficit by one in the fourth inning. The Express would end up tying the game in the fifth from an RBI single by catcher Daulton Varsho to make the score 3-3.

Willmar would take the lead in the seventh inning with a single from their left fielder, Ky Parrott.

Trying to post a rally the Express got base hits in the bottom of the ninth from Sam Hurt and Daulton Varsho to put runners on the corners. But with two outs and the Carson Park fans on their feet, Scotland Church would ground out to short to end the game. Express Field Manager thought a walk off victory on Independence Day could have been exactly what the Express needed to end their four game losing streak and 1-9 record in the past 10 games.

“It would have been nice to get more of a perk than just another victory,” said Varsho. “A walk off would have been really nice to try and turn this team around.”

CJ Eldred got the start for Eau Claire and pitched four innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits but only 2 of them earned.  Teddy Cillis pitched 2 solid innings of relief allowing only one hit and no runs.

Trent Shelton pitched two innings as well, allowing three hits and the eventual winning run.

The Express collected 12 hits which is the same as they’ve hit in their last three games combined.

“We played better today,” said Varsho. “But still kind of struggled with runners in scoring position.”

Shortstop Brandon Gibis had three hits but a costly error that allowed a key Willmar run. Despite the loss Varsho hopes the energy from tonight gives his team a jolt.

“All I ask for is them to compete everyday, come to the ball park, and have fun,” said Varsho. “Hopefully we can rub off on how we competed today to the rest of the season.”

The Express continue their home stand through the week as the St. Cloud Rox come to town for a two game series starting tomorrow. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. at Carson Park.