Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express lost another first inning lead on Saturday night, falling to 6-6 on the season with a 7-3 loss against the MoonDogs. The team will cross the northern border to Thunder Bay in Canada, seeking to put up a tally in the win column after two consecutive losses to the hottest hitting team in the Northwoods League.
The Express struck first in the game for the third consecutive night, as Ben Mezzenga continued to display his speed on the base paths. Mezzenga reached on an error, stole a base, advanced on a wild pitch, and then crossed home on an RBI single off the bat of Mickey McDonald.
Brody Rodning started the game for the Express, holding the MoonDogs without a hit in the first two innings. In the third, Aiden McMahon hit a one-out double and later scored after Rodning struggled with his control. He allowed two walks to load the bases and walked Marcus Pingleton, scoring a run for Mankato to level the game at 1-1. Rodning would pitch 35 pitches in the third, forcing him to exit the game due to Northwoods League pitching guidelines.
McMahon would produce for the MoonDogs again in the fourth against reliever Kenny Ogg. With two runners in scoring position, McMahon lined a single to the outfield to drive in two runs, giving the MoonDogs a 3-1 lead.
The Express got one run back in the top of the fifth to cut the Mankato lead to just one run. Tyler Jones reached safely after being hit by pitch, and went on to score on a Daniel Herrera RBI single. Mankato quickly replied in the bottom of the inning, when Bryce Adams hit his second home run in the series, a two-run blast to deep center field.
Mezzenga scored his second run of the game to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth. He reached base on a one-out single, then raced to third after Kevin Yarabinec (who relieved starter Nate Jones) threw a wild pitch that skipped to the back stop behind the plate. Zach Ashford hit a ground out that scored Mezzenga, tallying his third RBI of the summer.
After two innings of shut out baseball, Jameson Lavery, who replaced Kenny Ogg on the mound, gave up a solo home run to Jake Shepski. Shepski’s third homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth extended the Mankato lead to 7-3. Shepski is hitting over .500 this season, displaying impressive prowess at the plate against Northwoods League pitchers.
McDonald attempted to mount a rally in the ninth, hitting a double to right field with one out in the top of the ninth. However, Brick Paskiewicz got two strikeouts and a fly out to preserve the Mankato lead and sweep the Express in the two-game series.
McDonald went 3-5 with an RBI, and Mezzenga had two runs on one hit and added a stolen base in the loss. Mezzenga’s speed has allowed him to score six runs in just three games for Eau Claire. Kenny Ogg was the losing pitcher, dropping his record to 1-1 this year with a 7.00 ERA.
Bryce Hensley will make his first start of the season tomorrow against the winless Thunder Bay Boarder Cats. The Express will play a two-game series in Ontario, Canada, hoping to return to their winning ways after being swept by the MoonDogs at Franklin Rodgers Park.
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 www.eauclaireexpress.com.