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Published On: July 29th, 2016


Eau Claire, Wis.— The Eau Claire Express sent five representatives to Kenosha, Wisconsin from July 18th through the 20th, on a highly-scouted, high entertainment value event that garnered attention in the national media. Express manager Dale Varsho led the North Division All-Stars to victory in the All-Star Game, while his nephew, Daulton, made a “splash” in the Home Run Derby.


The three-day break kicked off with the heavily anticipated Northwoods League Home Run Derby on Lake Michigan, pitting the North and South Divisions against each other in the team portion of the contest. The set-up was picturesque, on a floating dock with just a pitching screen and a home plate poised before the water in the harbor.


















Despite not taking place at Simmons Field, Marty Bechina (Kenosha) used his “home field” advantage with the Kingfish supporters behind him to claim the Home Run Derby individual crown. Bechina blasted six homers over the barricade that represented the outfield fence, playing a key role in the South Division’s 24-19 Home Run Derby team victory. Daulton Varsho, the top home run hitter in the Northwoods League heading to the All-Star Break, hit four home runs, putting him in a tie for third place with Zach Jarrett (UNC-Charlotte) of the Madison Mallards.


“He’s been doing his thing all year and it's been working out pretty well for him. I just kind of let him do his thing.  He definitely showed up and did a great job, so we were proud of him,” Ben Mezzenga, All-Star outfielder, said of Varsho’s performance.


The unique setting of the Home Run Derby attracted major media attention, with several of the largest sports personalities and media outlets posting links on Twitter and Facebook to videos of the dingers hit into the lake where spectators collected souvenir balls in kayaks and speed boats. Darren Rovell, sports business reporter for ESPN with over a million followers on Twitter, kick started the buzz by Tweeting a link to a 30 second video clip of the Derby, compiled by Milwaukee Sports reporter Scott Grodsky. The video surfaced on several popular sports media sites, including,, and the New England Sports Network’s (NESN) Twitter pages.

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“I definitely knew it had the potential of being something big because its something the world has never seen. I saw a couple Instagrams and Twitter videos from these massive accounts I’ve followed for the past (few) years and I’m like ‘I was at that event, I know the people in that event’ so it felt pretty surreal to get to take part in that,” Mezzenga commented on the extensive media attention.


The 2016 All-Star Game commenced with a bang on Tuesday night, with two and half thousand fans in attendance. The North Division, led by coach Dale Varsho with his staff (Drew Pearson and Vic Cable), jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Daulton Varsho drew two walks in the first inning, including an RBI walk with the bases loaded for the fifth and final run of the first frame. Danny Pardo (Willmar) kicked off the game with an RBI double, and Mason McCoy (La Crosse), the eventual All-Star Game co-MVP, added a one-run single in the inning.


Caleb Boushley would pitch a scoreless bottom of the first on his way to being credited as the winning pitcher in the game. The right-hander from UW-La Crosse allowed a hit, but forced three straight groundouts to second base to earn the win in the game.


Mezzenga faced the impressive South Division All-Star pitching staff three times, unfortunately failing to reach base in the game. Austin Schulfer rounded out the Express selections with one inning pitched, giving up two runs including a home run to Steve Passatempo (Wisconsin), who would share the MVP trophy with McCoy. The game ended 9-5 for Dale Varsho's North Division team.


All-Star Game Box Score


When asked about his favorite part of the All-Star Break experience, Mezzenga pointed to the friendships he made. “It is just great to see these guys I’m playing against for the rest of the year here, and just make good friendships and be able to talk to them before and after the games now and reminisce about memories we made in the All Star Break.”


“The Kenosha interns and everyone that worked did a great job. It was a lot of fun, the fans were great. It was a great experience overall,” Mezzenga said.