Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express won the second game of the series against the Rochester Honkers 13-3 behind Caleb Boushley’s third straight victory on the mound. The Express hitters were dialed–in at the plate, scoring 13 runs on 11 hits, highlighted by Daulton Varsho’s record-setting three-run triple and a 4-4 performance by Sam Hurt.
Caleb Boushley continued his shut out streak, striking out all three Honkers’ batters he faced in the first inning. Boushley had not allowed a run in 13 innings heading into tonight’s matchup, with two scoreless outings in his past two starts. Boushley would send Rochester packing in order in the second, tallying his fourth strikeout in the inning.
Alex McKenna had the first hit of the game for either team, hitting a ground ball single up the middle. McKenna stole his second base of the year to advance into scoring position, then promptly moved up another 90 feet on his second steal of the game. Austin Guzzo hit a looping fly ball to left field, which proved deep enough to score McKenna tagging from third, giving the Express a 1-0 lead after two at Carson Park.
With a run of support behind him, Boushley preserved his no-hitter through three innings, adding a fifth strikeout to his game total. The Honkers got their first base runner in the top of the fourth on an infield single, but Boushley tallied three outs without allowing a run.
In the bottom of the third, a Ripken Reyes single and two walks issued by Honkers’ starter Jackson Douglas loaded the bases for Daulton Varsho. Varsho blasted a line drive into the gap in the deepest part of the ballpark, making it to third on a bases clearing three-run triple. The hit was Varsho’s eighth career triple, giving him sole possession of the Express career record in three-baggers. Varsho scored on a McKenna ground out, extending the Express lead to 5-0.
The Express added to their lead in the fourth, scoring two runs on just one hit. Guzzo drew a walk, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice that put Jared Mang on first. Hurt hit his second single of the game with one out, and both Mang and Hurt advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Rochester shortstop Jacob Thomas fumbled a ground ball, scoring Mang from third. Another run scored on a throwing error by Rochester’s catcher, overthrowing his second baseman an attempted steal, giving Eau Claire a 7-0 advantage after four innings of play.
Casey Worden hit a lead off single in the top of the fifth, threatening to end the Honkers’ scoreless game, but Boushley forced three straight pop-ups to hold the Honkers with a goose egg in the inning.
Daniel Herrera put a run on the board for the Express for the fourth straight inning in the bottom of the fifth. McKenna reached first on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scampered to third on a wild pitch. Herrera grounded a ball to the shortstop, but McKenna was able to score his second run of the game to grow the Eau Claire lead to eight.
Alex Fitchett broke up Boushley’s shut out in the top of the sixth, hitting a one-out solo home run to left field. The home run ended Boushley’s scoreless inning streak at 18 innings, dating back to his start on June 10th against the Mankato MoonDogs. Boushley limited the damage, inducing two fly balls to end the inning with the Express holding an 8-1 lead.
Mang quickly responded with a solo home run of his own. Mang’s second home run of the year snuck over the fence in left field, giving the Express an eight run lead for the second time in the ball game. Hurt followed up Mang’s solo shot with a double to the gap in left, his third hit of the game in three at bats. Hurt scored on a balk by reliever Ricky Delgado to score Eau Claire’s 10th run. McKenna continued his hot hitting start to the season with a two-run double. The Cal Poly freshman has driven in eight runs in five games, earning the clean-up spot in Dale Varsho’s starting lineup. The Express carried a 12-1 lead into the seventh inning.
The Express added one more run in the bottom of the seventh, increasing the gap to 13-1. Mang continued to display impressive power at the plate, hitting a double to the fence in left-center. Hurt collected his fourth hit of the game on an infield single in the following at bat. Reyes drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Mang for the third time in the game.
Boushley retired all three batters he saw in the seventh inning, his last inning of work on the mound for Eau Claire. Boushley finished the start with seven innings pitched, only allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven Rochester hitters. Boushley earned his team-leading fourth win and his third straight victory in the blow out.
Johnathon Tripp allowed the Honkers to score twice in the ninth on a Worden double, but held the lead to close out the victory, improving Eau Claire’s record to 21-11. Hurt finished the game a perfect 4-4 with two runs scored. McKenna was an impressive 2-5 at the plate with three RBI’s and two runs scored. Varsho hit his eighth career triple in the third inning, driving in three runs on the record-setting hit.
The Express will continue their four-game home stand tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m. against the Waterloo Bucks, who sit near the top of the North Division standings. Caleb Boushley will take the mound for Eau Claire, attempting to earn his fourth victory to tie Aaron Shortridge for the Express lead. Boushley has not allowed a run in 13 innings, winning his past two starts while holding the opposing hitters off the scoreboard. He has an impressive 2.25 ERA and 22 strikeouts, but will be put to the test against one of the strongest offensive teams in the league.
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.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Express as your favorite team.