Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express handed the Thunder Bay Border Cats their 13th straight loss, beating the only Canadian team in the Northwoods League by a final score of 11-6. Sam Hurt’s three RBI double in the sixth proved to be the difference as the Express improved to 7-6 on the summer.
The Express took the lead in the second inning, with two runs driven in on three hits. Tyler Jones hit a leadoff single and later scored on an RBI ground out by shortstop Cody Bohanek. After hitting a double to right-center, Daniel Herrera was driven in on a two out single by Cal Klipstein-Smith to give the Express an early lead for the fourth straight game.
Ben Mezzenga continued his impressive start to the summer, scoring his seventh run in four games. Mezzenga reached first safely on a throwing error by shortstop Jordan Gillerman, then advanced all the way to third on another throwing error by Bobby Fulkerson on a Sam Hurt grounder. Daulton Varsho hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Mezzenga, his 14th RBI of the season. Hurt scored with two outs in the third on a Rudy Rott double, giving the Express a 4-0 lead.
Thunder Bay loaded the bases on Express starter Bryce Hensley in the bottom of the third, following a reversed call on a tight play at second base. The Border Cats managed to score two runs on two RBI groundouts to cut the Express lead in half.
The Border Cats leveled the score in the fourth inning. Trevor Bernsdorf and Johnny Juarez IV each hit singles, and Riley Bernsdorf blasted an RBI double down the third base line to score one run. Gillerman hit a pop up to center, where Mezzenga laid out for an incredible diving catch, but Juarez IV tagged up at third and scored the tying run to knot the game at 4-4.
Mezzenga’s speed would produce another run in the top of the sixth and keep a rally alive. Matt Murphy, Thunder Bay’s starter, hit three Express batters to load the bases with two outs. Mezzenga hit a weak grounder to the left of the first baseman, but raced down the line beating out the throw to Murphy at first base, giving Mezzenga an RBI on an infield single. Hurt cleared the bases with a double hit over the head of the Border Cats’ center fielder, giving the Express an 8-4 lead. The double would be the game winning hit and sparked the Express offense for the remainder of the matchup.
Gui Gingras kick started a productive inning against reliever Johnathon Tripp in the bottom of the seventh with a stand up double. After advancing to third on a Shane Shepard single, Gingras scored on an RBI groundout by Grant Klenovich. Thunder Bay would cut the Express lead to two runs when Shepard crossed home on a fielding error by Ripken Reyes.
The Express would quickly counter, loading the bases after two singles, a walk, and a fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth. A wild pitch from Anthony Paesano allowed Klipstein-Smith to score the ninth run of the game for the Express. Tyler Jones hit a two RBI single after a walk to Varsho to refill the bases, giving the Express an 11-6 lead.
Tripp and closer Dylan Smith combined to pitch two scoreless innings, sealing the Express victory. Mezzenga finished with three runs scored in the game and now has nine for the season in just four games. Hurt had the decisive hit, a three-run double, and also scored two runs. Jones went 2-5 with two RBI’s and one run scored.
The Express will hope to make it 14 straight losses for Thunder Bay tomorrow night at 6:05p.m. Jake Sommers will make his second start of the season, looking to get back on track after an early exit and loss in his first appearance.
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.