Eau Claire, Wis.— Aaron Shortridge picked up his Northwoods League leading fourth win of the season in a seven inning shut out to improve the Express record to 14-8 this summer. Ripken Reyes scored four runs, and Ben Mezzenga added two RBI’s and two stolen bases in the 10-4 victory at Mayo Field.
Aaron Shortridge began his fourth start for the Express with a strong first inning. Shortridge tallied one strike out, and retired the first three batters he faced without allowing a hit. He continued his strong outing in the second, fanning two Honkers’ batters without a hitter reaching base.
The Express got on the board in the top of the third, giving Eau Claire a 1-0 advantage against Honkers’ starter, Spencer Johnson. Ripken Reyes led off the inning with an infield single, and Ben Mezzenga drew a walk to threaten the Honkers. Zach Ashford hit a ground out, advancing Reyes and Ashford into scoring position. Erik Migueles added his fourth RBI of the season on a ground out that scored Reyes from third.
Casey Worden ended Shortridge’s perfect game with one out in the bottom of the third, lining a single over shortstop, Cody Bohanek’s head into shallow left. Shortridge responded well to the base runner, notching his fourth strikeout of the game and forcing a pop up to end the inning while preserving his shut out.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Kyle Marinconz had his first hit of the 2016 season for the Express, a slicing double to center field off of Johnson. Mickey McDonald followed with a single, and Sam Hurt drew a walk to load the bases. Reyes also drew a walk with the bases loaded to score Marinconz, extending the Express lead to 2-0.
Mezzenga added to the lead with a ground ball single between the Honkers’ first and second baseman, scoring two runs. Ashford had an RBI single in the next at bat, putting the Express up 5-0. Mezzenga stole home for the second time this season on a double steal with Ashford, who also reached safely. Ashford would score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman All-American Rudy Rott, to cap the scoring with Eau Claire leading 7-0.
The Express added an eighth run in the top of the sixth, with Mezzenga and Reyes continuing to do damage against the Rochester pitching staff. With Robert Paccione taking over for the Honkers on the mound, Reyes hit a double to the gap in left center and advanced to second on a Mezzenga single. Ashford got his second RBI of the game on a ground out that allowed Reyes to cross the plate.
Eau Claire re-loaded the bases in the top of the eighth after three consecutive walks by reliever Sam Bjorngjeld, including a hit-by-pitch. Rott made it four straight walks, after being plunked in the back by a Bjorngjeld breaking ball, scoring Reyes for the fourth time in the game. The second bases loaded walk of the game by the Honkers gave the Express a 9-0 lead headed to the bottom of the eighth inning.
Sam Hurt hit his first home run of the season on a solo shot in the top of the ninth inning, extending the Express lead to 10-0 headed to the final half inning of the game. Hurt’s solo homer was Eau Claire’s fourth home run in two games against the Rochester Honkers.
The Honkers tallied their first run in the bottom of the ninth against Jon Roblez. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Jacob Thomas, who drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. Worden blasted a three-run home run off of Roblez with one out to cut the deficit to 10-4. However, Roblez turned the final two outs with ease, sealing the victory.
Shortridge earned his fourth victory of the season in four starts, for a perfect 4-0 record with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts. Shortridge completed seven shut out innings in the game, allowing only four hits in his strongest performance of the season. It is the third time this summer Shortridge has pitched seven innings, allowing less than four runs in every outing.
Reyes went 2-3 with two hits and two walks, scoring four times and driving in one run. Mezzenga also had two hits, while adding two RBI’s and two stolen bases for a total of 12 this season.
The Express will take on the Thunder Bay Border Cats, who the Express swept in a two game series a week ago, at 6:05p.m. Central Time tomorrow. Kenny Ogg is the probable pitcher, making his first start after five appearances (13.1 innings pitched) out of the bullpen. Ogg will look to replicate Shortridge’s dominant performance and give the Express their third straight victory tomorrow evening.
Season tickets and single-game tickets are on sale now for Express home games. 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, 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 portal. For more information, visit www.greenbaybullfrogs.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Bullfrogs as your favorite team.