Varsho’s two-run home run lifts Express to 6-2 victory
Eau Claire, Wis.— Daulton Varsho’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Express a one run lead, which they would preserve in a 6-2 victory at Carson Park. The win extended the Express winning streak to five games with another matchup against Green Bay tomorrow at 7:05p.m.
Despite not pitching since May 31st, Dalton Roach looked locked-in on the mound in the first inning, sending the Bullfrogs down in order without a hit. The Bullfrogs got into the hit column in the second inning, but Roach did not allow the base runner to score to preserve the early shut out.
Bullfrogs’ left fielder Jonah Davis broke the 0-0 tie on the second pitch of the third inning, blasting a line drive home run over the fence in right field. Randell Kanemaru followed up Davis’s shot by reaching base on a fielding error, advancin to second on a wild pitch, and stealing third. Parker Coss drove in Kanemaru on a weak grounder in the infield that resulted in a fielder’s choice and a tight play at the plate, giving Green Bay a 2-0 lead.
The Express pulled one run back against Green Bay starter Stuart Springer in the bottom of the third. Ben Mezzenga walked to lead off the inning, and scored on a towering sacrifice fly by Tyler Jones to right center, cutting the lead to 2-1 after three innings. The run was Mezzzenga’s 15th this season in just eight games, the third highest in the whole Northwoods League. Mezzenga also ranks in the top-five in the league in stolen bases, with eight on the season.
Roach rebounded with a strong top of the fourth, retiring the three Bullfrogs’ batters he faced, including a strikeout of Brian Lees. In the bottom of the inning, Jared Mang had his first hit of the season, ripping a single to center field. Mang, an outfielder from New Mexico, displayed impressive power at the plate during his 2016 collegiate season and will hope his batting translates to the Northwoods League this summer.
Hayden Bowe would relieve Roach on the mound in the seventh. Roach finished another strong start with six strikeouts, allowing just one earned run on three hits. Bowe retired the side in the top of the seventh on just seven pitches to give the Express offense an opportunity to level the score.
Varsho would step up to the plate with two outs and Sam Hurt on first base with a chance to give the Express their first lead of the game. Hurt fought off four foul balls to stay alive in his at bat, and lined a ball over the second baseman for his second single of the night. Varsho hit a deep drive over the wall in right center, stealing a 3-2 lead from reliever BJ Sabol. The eventual game-winner was Varsho’s league-leading sixth home run of the season.
The Express added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Several walks plagued Logan Elliot’s relief appearance for Green Bay. McDonald led off with a walk, then Rudy Rott was hit by the first pitch he saw. Zach Ashford laid down a bunt, but an errant throw allowed McDonald to score. The Express loaded the bases after another Elliot walk, which ended his night on the mound.
Matt Ellenbest entered the game and allowed a two-RBI single to Cody Bohanek, the first hitter he faced. Ellenbest rebounded after the Bohanek single, forcing a double play and a fly out to end the inning. The damage, however, was already done with the Express lead standing at 6-2 headed to the top of the ninth.
Bowe returned for his third inning of work in the ninth, preserving the four-run Express lead. Bowe earned his first victory of the year with three scoreless innings where he only allowed two hits. Sabol was credited with the loss after allowing the game-winning home run.
Varsho had two hits in four at bats, including what proved to be the game-winning two-run home run in the seventh. Bohanek was 1-4 at the plate with two RBI’s, and Hurt finished 2-5, with a key single to keep the seventh inning alive for Varsho.
The Express will face off against the Bullfrogs again tomorrow night at 7:05p.m. for the first fireworks night of the season. Eau Claire will aim to continue producing fireworks at the plate against Bullfrogs’ starter, Dakota Klein. Caleb Boushley will make his third start of the season for the Express, hoping to improve to 2-1 and extend the Eau Claire winning streak to six games.
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.