Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express were shut out 5-0 at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud, MN by the Rox in an abbreviated seven-inning game. The loss was the second of the day for Eau Claire at the hands of the Rox, after a postponed game resulted in defeat earlier in the evening. Eau Claire will remain in St. Cloud for one more game tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m., seeking to avenge tonight’s defeats.
The Express played a seven-inning game with first pitch crossing the plate at 9:08 p.m., following the completion of a postponed game from July 7th. The St. Cloud Rox defeated Eau Claire 7-5 in the first game of the night. A four-run fourth inning gave the Rox an early lead, which they clung on to for the remainder of the key North Division victory.
Michael Gomez got in trouble on the mound early, walking the first two batters he faced at Joe Faber Field. The Rox effectively moved runners, putting both Rox runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Luke Ringhofer drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly. Denis Karas followed Ringhofer with a one-run double off the wall in left field to give St. Cloud an early 2-0 lead after one inning of play.
Ben Mezzenga broke up Dan Metzdorf’s no-hitter in the top of the third inning with a two-out single to left field. It was Mezzenga’s fourth hit of the night in the two games, following which he promptly stole his third base of the night. Metzdorf responded by forcing a lineout to eliminate the Express’s lone scoring threat in the game through three innings.
After walking the lead off hitter again in the bottom of the third, manager Dale Varsho went to his bullpen to replace Gomez with Ohio University freshman, Kenny Ogg. Ogg’s first act of duty was to induce a grounder that shortstop Cody Bohanek relayed on to turn a double play to clear the bases. Ringhofer extended the inning with a two-out single, and later scored the third run of the second game of the night on Karas’s second RBI of the game on a single to right field. Ogg forced a groundout off the bat of Brett Pope to end the third inning, the scoreboard reading 3-0 in favor of the Rox after three innings played.
Another two-out rally added one run to the Rox lead, giving the home team a 4-0 lead heading to the top of the fifth. Marcus Carson and Brandon Benson had a pair of singles, to put Rox base runners in a dangerous position to extend their lead to an insurmountable total. Mason Mamarella made it three straight singles, ripping an RBI hit into the outfield at “The Rock Pile.”
Reliever Sean Maher found himself in a jam in the bottom of the fifth following a Michael Strem double that advanced Ringhofer to third after he drew a lead off walk, his second of the game. Maher had effective damage control on the mound, allowing just one run on a Pope RBI groundout to Kyle Marinconz at second base. The Express needed to capitalize on offense to avoid being shut out for the first time this summer, with the Rox leading 5-0 heading to the sixth and penultimate inning.
Alex McKenna blasted a triple to the outfield fence in St. Cloud, but Metzdorf recovered spectacularly, leaving McKenna stranded on third at the end of the inning. Metzdorf allowed just five hits in six scoreless innings on the rubber, walking one Express batter and striking out two.
Maher retired the side in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Express one final chance to break the shut out in the final inning of play. Robbie Palkert came in for the top of the seventh, sending the Express down in order to end the game 5-0, the first shut out of Eau Claire this season.
Eau Claire will seek revenge for the double-header sweep tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m., completing the series with a night game at Joe Faber Field. Brody Rodning will make his ninth start of the season in the game, looking to improve his 3-1 overall record and lower his 4.50 ERA. The left-hander from Minnesota State Mankato is third on the team with 31 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched.
The Eau Claire Express have won the Northwoods League North Division and have earned a trip to the playoffs for the first time since winning the Northwoods League Championship in 2010. They will host a playoff game at Carson Park on Monday August 15th 6:35pm. Group and individual game tickets are on sale now! Season tickets and single-game tickets for the regular season are also 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.