Three home runs power Express to 6-5 win
Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express rebounded from a series sweep against the Mankato MoonDogs with a 6-5 win against the Rochester Honkers, improving Eau Claire’s record to 13-8. Express batters hit three home runs, constituting five of the team’s six runs, including Erik Migueles’s three-run blast off the foul pole in right field.
Ryan Hamilton picked up where he left off in his seven-inning win a week ago, retiring the Rochester batters in order on just seven pitches in the first inning. Hamilton needed only 11 pitches in the top of the second, tallying his first strike out of the outing and retiring the three batters he faced. Turner Buis had the first hit of the night for Rochester on a two-out single, but Hamilton induced a grounder to Kyle Marinconz at second to end the third inning.
Daulton Varsho extended his lead atop the Northwoods League in home runs with a solo shot in the bottom of the first. Varsho blasted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right-center, his seventh home run of the season for his 21st RBI this summer.
Ben Mezzenga added to the Express lead in the bottom of the third, also hitting a two-out solo home run over the fence in right-center. The solo shot was Mezzenga’s first home run of the season, his 18th run scored of the season, tying him for third place in the league.
Hamilton allowed two lead off runners on base in the top of the fourth, after a single and walk, but did not allow a run after forcing an infield fly and a double play to maintain his shut out.
The Honkers would get into the scoring column in the top of the sixth inning to cut the Express lead to 2-1. Rochester second baseman Chase Lambert reached on a single to shallow right, then scored on a fielding error at third base by Mickey McDonald on a grounder by Alex Fitchett. Due to the error, the run was unearned for Hamilton, preserving his 0.00 ERA for the game.
Erick Migueles had a memorable first hit as a member of the Express, blasting a three-run home run that hit the foul pole in right field. Migueles cleared the bases after a walk issued to Zach Ashford and a single by Varsho, displaying exceptional power at the plate as he hit the foul pole at its halfway point. The bomb gave the Express a 5-1 lead after six innings.
Hamilton was relieved in the top of the seventh inning, finishing the game with six innings pitched with no earned runs, allowing one unearned run on the error. Chase Beal took over on the rubber, making his Express debut.
The Express extended their lead in the bottom of the seventh inning after reliever Erik Cha walked the first three hitters he faced to load the bases with no outs. After two balls to Ashford, the Honkers yanked Cha for Alex Fagalde, who ended up walking Ashford on a full count allowing McDonald to score. Unfortunately, McDonald was the only runner to cross the plate in the inning, with Fagalde striking out two batters and forcing a ground out.
Beal, a NJCAA National Champion with Yavapai College, pitched 1.1 innigs in his first appearance for the Express. His first earned run came on a solo home run in the top of the eighth by Mark Contreras to cut the Eau Claire lead to 6-2. With one out, Beal gave up a single to Drew Ellis, who scored after three straight walks, including two batters that were hit by a pitch. Manny Castellano took over on the mound, but allowed another run to cross home on a wild pitch that reached the backstop. Keaton Weisz closed the gap to just one run on a single past the outstretched glove of McDonald at third.
Christian Tripp pitched the ninth inning, earning his first save of the season for Eau Claire in his second appearance. Tripp got into a dangerous jam with runners on first and second after a single and a walk, but turned a clutch double play to seal the 6-5 victory.
Hamilton would earn his second win of the season, improving to 2-2 this summer, while Isaac Friesen was credited with the loss. Migueles went 1-4, but his three-run home run was key in the Express win. Varsho and Mezzenga each had two hits, with both hitting solo home runs.
The Express will travel to Rochester for a rematch against the Honkers on their home turf tomorrow, looking to continue their undefeated season series against the Honkers. Aaron Shortridge will take the mound, looking to remain undefeated himself on the season while earning his league leading fourth win of the season. Shortridge’s first pitch in the matinee will be at 12:05p.m.
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.