Roach Strikes Out 18 In 4-0 Express Victory
It's opening week in Wisconsin in the Northwoods League presented by Edvest
The Eau Claire Express impressed on a rainy Opening Night of the 2016 season, shutting out the Rochester Honkers 4-0. The game was delayed by an hour due to thunderstorms, but the field crew quickly dried the field when the rain let up and the Express clinched its first victory of the season. Dalton Roach was dominant in his first start of the summer, completing eight scoreless innings of baseball and racking up a team-record 18 strikeouts.
Roach wasted no time in proving his value as an ace for the Express, striking out the side in the first inning. He continued to pound the strike zone relentlessly, striking out the next nine batters he faced, including 11 straight swinging strikeouts. Roach finished his outing with an Express single-game record 18 strikeouts, but could not take the mound during the ninth inning due to his 101 pitch-count. He struck out lead-off hitter Keaton Weisz, designated hitter Tanner Schumacher, and right fielder Lucas Lorenz three times each during the game,
The Eau Claire native allowed just two hits to the Honkers, with his bid for a perfect game broken up by Jed Sprague single in the top of the fifth inning. Roach was relieved by side-armer Dylan Smith from Weatherford College in the ninth. Smith allowed two hits, but alert fielding by the Express resulted in a pick-off following a strikeout in the dirt by Daniel Herrera and a Mickey McDonald throw that gunned down Rochester second-baseman Chris Scalisi trying to advance to second to end the game.
The first inning offensively for the Express revealed early season communication issues for the Honkers. Getting on base after being hit by a pitch, Tommy Hook eventually advanced to third on a wild pitch. Daulton Varsho stepped up and popped up what looked to be a routine fly ball in front of the pitcher’s mound, but a miscommunication resulted in a crash between catcher Brett Harrison and pitcher Erik Cha allowing the pop-up to land on the infield and Varsho to make it safely to first. Tyler Jones, one of the top power hitters in NCAA Division I Baseball, drove in Varsho and Hook with a single, making the score 2-0 for the Express, and advanced to second on a throwing error by Honkers’ center fielder Bryce Marquardt.
The Express bats exploded again in the third inning, when Hook reached first with his second walk (also was hit by a pitch). McDonald advanced Hook to second with a single, his first hit in an Express uniform. Jones widened the gap further, blasting a double to left field, clearing the bases. Jones finished the night hitting 2-3 with three RBI’s. The Express bats cooled off after the third, with first-baseman Rudy Rott tallying the only hit after the third inning, a single in the sixth.
The Express will travel to Rochester’s home field tomorrow night for a rematch against the Honkers. Roach’s Minnesota State teammate Brody Rodning will take the mound for Eau Claire, hoping to retain the momentum from tonight’s victory. The Honkers will look to ignite a spark offensively after being stifled on opening night. The game’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 at Mayo Field in Rochester.
Season tickets, 5-Game Packs, and single-game tickets are on sale now . The all-new 5-Game Pack includes a reserved ticket along with food and beverage for three innings for five of the biggest promotional nights of the 2016 season all for only $45.00. All tickets can be purchased by calling the Express office at 715-839-7788 or by stopping at the downtown office at 102 E. Grand Ave.
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The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2016, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 150 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com.