Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express won the final game of their seven game road trip, 10-6 over the Waterloo Bucks tonight. Eau Claire used five ninth inning runs as insurance to seal a victory where every member of the starting lineup recorded a hit.
The Express benefitted early from a pair of singles and were aided by a fielding error to put both runners in scoring position. Kyle Marinconz and Daulton Varsho each hit singles off Waterloo starter Steven Baker. Rudy Rott punished the Bucks for the early error, clearing the bases with a two-run single in the top of the first. Third base coach Drew Pearson waved Rott home on an Austin Guzzo double off the outfield fence, giving the Express an early 3-0 lead. Jared Mang would drive in a fourth run on an opposite field slap single to score Guzzo.
All Star Caleb Boushley had a perfect first inning on the mound, retiring the Bucks in order without allowing a base runner. Boushley would prove the first was not a fluke, repeating his hitless performance in the second inning.
Yet another error ended up costing the Bucks a run in the second. Zach Ashford lined a one out single on a struggling Baker. Varsho dropped his second single of the game in between three Waterloo fielders in shallow left to put two runners on for clean-up hitter Alex McKenna. McKenna grounded a well-hit ball to the Bucks’ second baseman, who mishandled the ball allowing Ashford to score. The 5-0 Express lead consisted of entirely runs with two outs heading to the bottom half of the second inning.
Zach Fricke would end Boushley’s no-hitter in the bottom of the third with a sharp single to right field. Matt Morrow made it two straight hits with a double down the third base line, taking a few advantageous bounces for Waterloo. With two runners in scoring position, Lane Milligan simply needed to put a ball in play to score a run, which he did with an RBI ground out to shortstop Cody Bohanek. Boushley would force a second groundout to end the inning with the score 5-1 in favor of Eau Claire.
Bousley would pitch out of a tough jam in the bottom of the fourth to preserve the 5-1 lead for the revenge-seeking Express. Robert Neustrom hit a lead off single, and was quickly joined on the base paths by Adam McGinnis who had a hit of his own. Boushley was forced to retire three hitters without allowing the runners to advance into dangerous positions. Varsho made an excellent heads-up play on a bunt to throw out the lead runner at third, and a pop-up and strikeout ended the inning without any damage done to the score line.
The Bucks threatened again just following the halfway point in the game, with back-to-back singles from Fricke and Morrow to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Boushley struck out pinch hitter Jake Hand, but allowed a single to Taylor Boyd to load the bases. Neustrom, who extended his 17 game on-base streak earlier in the game, ripped a two-run single up the middle to cut the Express the lead to 5-3. Boushley was helped by two defensive masterpieces to hold the Bucks to just two runs in the inning. Varsho gunned down a runner trying to swipe third base for the second out, and McKenna made a spectacular diving catch in center field to deny an extra base hit to end the inning.
Kenny Ogg came into the game to take over pitching duties for the Express in the bottom of the seventh, tasked with preserving the narrow against a tough North Division rival. Ogg allowed one hit, but held the Bucks scoreless. Boushley had yet another solid outing, completing six innings while allowing three earned runs on eight hits. The Division III All American struck out three hitters and walked only two, leaving the game in position to earn his league-leading fifth win of the season.
Ogg would face a late rally by Waterloo in the bottom of the eighth, sparked by a lead off double to deep right center by Tyler Curtis. A one-out single by Zach Weatherford put runners on the corners for Fricke, who had reached base safely in all four at bats. Weatherford stole second on a pitch in the dirt. Curtis was caught in a run down on a ground ball to Mickey McDonald at third base for the second out of the inning. Ogg pitched out of the inning unharmed on a 1-3 ground out by Morrow, heading to the final frame with a 5-3 lead.
Jared Mang capitalized with the bases loaded, hitting his second two-run double in the two-game series to give the Express a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth. Mang drove in Varsho, who reached on a lead off double, and Rott, who was intentionally walked and stole a base, to provide a couple vital insurance runs late in the game. McDonald made it two straight two-run doubles, clearing the bases to extend the Eau Claire advantage to six runs. Bohanek got the Express to double digits with an RBI ground out to first base, scoring McDonald.
Christian Tripp ran into some early trouble in the bottom of the ninth, with three straight hits to start the final half inning of play. McGinnis got his league-best 39th RBI on a ground out to score Hand. After a strikeout, Boxwell dropped a single into shallow left field to score two more runs, closing the deficit to 10-6 with just one out remaining. McDonald caught a line drive at the hot corner to wrap up the win.
Boushley is now tied atop the Northwoods League with five wins, holding a solid 2.43 ERA in six starts. Every member of Eau Claire’s starting lineup recorded a hit during the game, an offensive outburst that produced 10 runs. Mang was 2-5 with three RBI’s, and Varsho led the way with three hits and two runs scored.
The Express will return home to Carson Park after seven games on the road dating back to the wild conclusion of the first half of the season. Jon Roblez will take the mound against the Thunder Bay Border Cats at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow night. Roblez is coming off the best performance from an Express pitcher this season. Roblez won Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night honors for his seven inning no-hitter against the St. Cloud Rox on July 6th. Despite leaving the game with an 8-0 lead, a late Rox rally forced extra-innings and robbed the Alabama State product his first win of the season.
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.