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Published On: June 3rd, 2016

It’s opening week in Wisconsin in the Northwoods League presented by Edvest

Box Score

Eau Claire, Wis.—The Express suffered their first loss of the season to the Willmar Stingers at Bill Taunton Stadium on Thursday night. Catcher Daulton Varsho added to his league-leading home run total, but the Stingers jumped on starter Ryan Hamilton early and the Express could not close the deficit, losing by an 8-4 final score.


Eau Claire entered the game hoping to begin the season 3-0 for the first time in franchise history after two victories against the Rochester Honkers earlier this week.


Varsho continued his hot streak at the plate where he left off last night, hitting his third home run of the season in the first inning. With two outs, he blasted a solo shot to center fielder off of Stingers’ starting pitcher, Gage Hutchinson.

Much like last night’s game, the Express could not hold onto the 1-0 lead for long, allowing three runs in the bottom of the first. Danny Pardo led the offense for the Stingers, hitting a single with one out, followed immediately by a double from right fielder, Jack Schmidt. On his first hit of the Northwoods League season, Greg Lambert drove Pardo home to put the Stingers on the board. Schmidt scored from third on an RBI ground out by designated hitter Ty Tice, and Lambert reached home on a single off the bat of Travis Wacker.


The Stingers’ bats remained hot in the bottom of the second inning, adding four runs to their lead with the help of a couple Express errors to fill the base paths. Brian Moore singled with one out and later scored on a throwing error. Pardo added his second hit of the game with a double to right-center. Tice and Wacker each recorded an RBI single to push the lead to 7-1 after two innings.


The Express showed potential offensively in the top of the third, loading the bases with singles by Jonathon Tripp (his first hit of the season) and Cal Klipstein-Smith, and an error that allowed Tommy Hook to reach first safely. Mickey McDonald hit a deep sacrifice fly, scoring Tripp from third to cut the deficit to five runs.


A new pitcher could not stop the Stingers bats in the third inning. In his first appearance of the summer, Emmanuel Castellano gave up an RBI single to Pardo (his third hit of the night) after walking the leadoff man, Brandon Perez. However, Castellano bounced back and pitched out of a tough jam to keep the score 8-2 heading into the fourth.


This would be the only run allowed by Castellano, who shut down the Stingers’ batters for the remainder of the game. He tallied 6.0 innings, holding the Stingers to four hits while striking out two batters to give the Express a chance to close the deficit.


Varsho attempted to spark a comeback in the top of the eighth inning, driving a deep double off the center field wall. Varsho scored when the Stingers’ catcher, Wacker, threw a ball into left field in an attempt to catch Varsho stealing third, cutting the Stingers’ lead to five runs.

In the ninth inning, the Express made a late push to level the score. Hook and Klipstein-Smith reached on walks, and McDonald drove in a run on a two-out single. However, the late rally was not enough, as Jake Rothwell pitched out of a tough situation to close out the 8-4 victory, completing his three-inning save.


Varsho finished the game 2-5 with two runs scored and an RBI on his solo home run to improve his batting average to .429 for the season. Last night’s hero, Rudy Rott, went 2-3 with two singles, bringing his season average to .455.


The Express will seek revenge in tomorrow night’s rematch. Aaron Shortridge, a freshman right-handed pitcher from California Berkley, will make his debut on the mound for Eau Claire. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 in Willmar.


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Season tickets, 5-Game Packs, and single-game tickets are on sale now for Express home games. 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.

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