Express return home in walk-off fashion
Mankato ties it in ninth, but Cillis comes up big
Returning home to Carson Park after a five game road trip was nothing short of valiant for the Eau Claire Express who earned a walk-off victory tonight beating the Mankato MoonDogs 5-4.
With a one run lead entering the ninth inning, Victor Sanchez was one out away from his seventh save of the season but instead allowed three hits to give the MoonDogs the tying run they needed.
With one down in the bottom of the ninth inning Daulton Varsho would draw a walk to put the winning run on base and begin the Express rally. Right fielder Tyler Adkison would rope a single to right two batters later and move the winning run to third base.
Designated hitter Teddy Cillis would come up to the plate with two outs and the winning run 90 feet away. He hit a sharp ground ball on 2-2 count that shot through the right side of the infield to score Varsho and win the ball game.
As soon as Cillis reached first base he was mobbed by a group of his teammates and was the victim of a celebratory dogpile.
“That was okay,” said Cillis about the way his teammates celebrated one of their more thrilling wins this season. “But not until the water came.”
The single would be the lone hit of the game for Cillis but it was the most crucial one of the game.
“I was just looking for something up,” said Cillis. “I had a man on third so I didn’t really need to get a big hit. That was definitely where I wanted to put it.”
Express Field Manager Dale Varsho wasn’t happy that the Express lost the lead but said the way his team is playing right now played a factor in them pulling it out.
“Were definitely playing loose right now,” said Varsho. “To have the lead in the ninth, then give up the lead in the ninth, then come back in the ninth is a huge thing for us, just to come back.”
Tyler Adkison would lead the team on the night with four hits and an RBI. Varsho would add an RBI double in the first inning to his night while shortstop Kyle Marinconz stayed hot with two more hits. Cillis said that this win is one of the team’s biggest of the season.
“To pull that one out it’s just a morale booster for us,” said Cillis. “Gives us some confidence that we can pull out tight games.”
Bryce Hensley pitched six innings allowing three runs on eight hits, however only two of the runs were earned. Dalton Roach pitched two scoreless innings and Victor Sanchez blew the save but did earn the win.
They improve to 5-9 in the second half of Northwoods League play and 18-30 overall. The Express go for the sweep of the MoonDogs tomorrow in game two at Carson Park. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. for Big Brothers, Big Sisters night, and is sponsored by EO Johnson Business Technologies.
“Were feeling pretty good, definitely coming together as team now,” said Cillis. Just trying to have fun, we kind of got lost in that before. We were all really serious and trying to perform well but I think now everyone’s figured out we perform our best when were loose and having fun.”