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Published On: July 27th, 2016

Box Score


Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express dropped Tuesday night’s matchup with the Willmar Stingers 8-2 in the first game of the road series. The Stingers jumped out to an early six-run lead, which proved insurmountable for Eau Claire, who will look to split the series tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.


The Express got into trouble early, when shortstop Dylan Woods crushed a solo shot to right field in the lead off spot. It was just Woods’s third home run this season, spoiling the first inning for Express starter Jameson Lavery in his first start this season. Lavery would bounce back quickly, turning a double play to end the first inning.


Errors would prove costly for Eau Claire in the bottom of the second, with the Stingers adding five runs to their early lead. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs for Willmar. Brandon Perez got the scoring started with a grounder that forced a tough play at first resulting in an error. A Cole Gray grounder turned into a fielding error at shortstop, scoring Luke Becker from second and Kole Cottam from third. The Stingers got their fifth run on an RBI single from Greg Lambert (the league-leader in the category), taking a 6-0 lead to the third.


Corey Binger was dialed-in from the rubber to start the game, holding the Express scoreless through the first four innings at Bill Taunton Stadium. Binger, a sophomore from the University of Nebraska Omaha, gave up just three hits and one

walk to the normally potent Eau Claire hitters.


Ryan Zimmerman rivaled Binger’s impressive statistics after replacing Lavery for the final out of the second inning. The right-hander from the University of St. Thomas struck out four of the first eight batters he faced, allowing just two walks and no hits in his first two innings of work. The Stingers broke Zimmerman’s scoreless outing in the bottom of the fifth, when Cottam drove in Willmar’s seventh run on a sacrifice fly to dead center field. Zimmerman closed out the inning with his sixth strikeout in 3.1 innings pitched.


The Express got onto the scoreboard in the top of the sixth, sparked by a one-out walk by All-Star Ben Mezzenga. The University of Minnesota freshman advanced to third base on an Alex McKenna single to center field. With two outs, Kyle Marinconz delivered a clutch single to score the speedy Mezzenga. The return throw to the infield on Marinconz’s hit escaped the Stingers’ third baseman, allowing to McKenna to cross the plate, cutting Willmar’s lead to 7-2 halfway through the sixth.


Sean Maher replaced Zimmerman in the bottom of the eighth, who quickly ran into trouble against the hot-hitting, second half leading Stingers. Zimmerman had an impressive final stat line, with one run allowed in 5.1 innings, fanning Stingers and giving up just two hits.


Cottam continued to prove a difficult out for the Express, drawing a lead off walk in the eighth. Cottam stole a base and later advanced to third on a wild pitch, scoring on a Perez double in the next at bat. Maher left Perez standing on second with three fly outs, holding the score at 8-2 with just one chance for the Express to level the score.


Jake Rothwell, closer for the Stingers, allowed a base runner, walking Mickey McDonald with one out in the final frame of the North Division contest. Rothwell forced a double play groundball to end the ninth and the game, the final scoreline reading 8-2 in favor of Willmar.


Lavery was credited with the loss in his 1.2 inning start, and Binger picked up his second win of the season in Tuesday’s contest. McDonald led the Express with two hits, while Marinconz got the lone RBI for Eau Claire.


The Express will seek revenge tomorrow night in the 7:05 p.m. rematch at Bill Taunton Stadium, hoping to pick up a key win against the current surging Stingers. Lavery’s UW-La Crosse teammate Caleb Boushley will make his second start following his Northwoods League All Star Game start, looking to rebound from a four-inning loss in the postponed game against St. Cloud on July 21st. Boushley leads the Express with five wins, holding a 3.73 ERA with 37 strikeouts this season.


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