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Published On: June 30th, 2016

Box Score

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Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express fell to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the evening game of the double-header by an 8-4 final score. The Rafters scored four runs in the first inning, holding a lead throughout the remainder of the game to drop the Express to 20-10 on the season.


The Rafters looked driven by revenge right off the bat in the second game of the double-header, tagging Express starter Michael Gomez for four runs in the top of the first. Jake Lumley and Patrick Cromwell each had one-outs singles, and both came around to score on designated hitter Joe Wainhouse’s two-run double. Rob Calabrese joined Wainhouse in scoring position with a single of his own. Logan Mattix cleared the bases with a looping single into shallow center field that gave the Rafters a 4-0 lead early.


Due to the Northwoods League pitching guidelines, Kenny Ogg relieved Gomez on the mound after pitching 35 pitches in the top of the first. Ogg entered the game and retired the Rafters in order in the second.


Damien Richard had a dominant start to the game for the Rafters. Despite allowing a lead off double to Ben Mezzenga in the first inning, Richard rebounded with a ground out and two strikeouts to prevent a run from crossing the plate. In the second, the lead off hitter reached again, but Richard fanned two batters and forced a line out to hold the Express scoreless through two innings.


Joey Morgan extended the lead to five runs in the top of the third. Morgan teed up on an Ogg pitch, blasting a solo shot to deep left field. It was the first baseman’s third home run of the year, bringing his season RBI total to nine. Ogg bounced back with a stellar fourth inning, striking out all three Rafters’ hitters he faced looking.


Alex McKenna displayed his power with a lead off solo home run in the top of the fourth to put the Express on the board. McKenna has been impressive at the plate in just three starts for Eau Claire this summer. The home run hooked just inside the foul pole in left field, giving McKenna his fifth RBI in three starts. Daniel Herrera continued the productive half inning for Eau Claire with an RBI single scoring Kyle Marinconz (who reached on a single) from second base, cutting the Rafters’ lead to 5-2 after four innings.


The Rafters quickly responded with an offensive outburst of their own in the fifth. Lumley, Cromwell, and Wainhouse all hit singles to lead off the inning, scoring one run off of Ogg. Calabrese hit a sinking line drive to left field in the following at bat, proving too much to handle for Ashford in left, allowing another run to cross home. Mattix tallied his third RBI of the game on a ground out to Sam Hurt at shortstop.   


Richard completed six innings with two earned runs allowed on seven hits, fanning eight Express hitters. Richard was in line for his first win of the season in his first start of the season after three quality appearances from the bullpen this season.


The Express scored two runs against reliever Nick Belzer in the eighth inning, cutting the Rafters’ lead to 8-4 heading to the final inning. Jared Mang and Marinconz drew back-to-back walks, putting two runners in a dangerous position to spark an Eau Claire rally. Herrera drove a ball down the first base line, driving in both Mang and Marinconz for his third RBI of the contest.


Jon Roblez had four impressive innings of relief for the Express, allowing only one hit and no runs while racking up three strikeouts in his third appearance in relief this season. Roblez gave the Express an opportunity to seize the lead or tie the game in the ninth inning. Wainhouse moved from DH to closer in the ninth, sealing the 8-4 victory for Wisconsin Rapids.


Herrera was the offensive standout in the game, driving in three runs on a 2-3 hitting performance. Mckenna hit his first home run on the summer, proving he deserves a key spot in manager Dale Varsho’s everyday core. The Express benefitted from losses by St. Cloud and Waterloo to remain a half game back of first place in the North Division with a split in the double-header.


The Express will hit the road for just one game, travelling to Rochester to play the struggling Rochester Honkers at Mayo Field. The game will be part of a home-away two-game series between the teams, with the Honkers playing at Carson Park on Friday night. There are just six games until the first half of the season is complete with an automatic playoff spot on the line for the team with the top record. Austin Schulfer will pitch for the Express tomorrow, looking to catch up to Mitch Stalsberg (of the La Crosse Loggers) in the chase for the league-lead in strikeouts.


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 or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Express as your favorite team.