Virtual Game Day Program
Eau Claire, Wis.— The Express dropped the series opener against the Mankato MoonDogs 11-2, failing to recover from an early offensive outburst from the strong MoonDogs squad. The two teams will square off again tomorrow night at Carson Park, with the Express looking to prove why they are the most productive offense in the Northwoods League.
Reagan MacDonald started with a dominant top of the first, sending down the MoonDogs in order in his first start this summer. MacDonald ended the inning with an exclamation point, striking out Jake Shepski, the top hitter in the Northwoods League.
The shut out, however, did not last long. The MoonDogs scored twice with one out in the top of the second, giving the visiting team a 2-0 advantage early. Bryce Adams reached on a fielder’s choice, and advance all the way to third on a fielding error. Jordan Washam put Mankato on the board with an RBI infield single, followed by a one-run Jake Roberts single to the gap in right center field.
MacDonald ran into trouble again in the top of the third. The first two batters reached base, Drew Fearing on an error and David Metzgar on a single that dropped just in front of Zach Ashford in left field. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a double steal, and Fearing would later cross the plate on a Chase Hamilton bloop single into shallow left. Another run would cross the plate, when Metzgar made a heads up play during a run down between first and second to give Mankato a 4-0 lead after three innings of play.
MoonDogs starter Jeremy Quinlan had a strong first third, allowing just one hit in his first three innings on the mound. Quinlan struggled slightly with control, issuing three walks, but continually overcame tough situations, stranding base runners to hold the early lead.
Kenny Ogg, freshman right-hander from Ohio University, relieved MacDonald of his duties in the top of the fourth. Ogg allowed the speedy Pingleton to reach base on a lead off walk. Pingleton promptly stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout to shortstop Sam Hurt. Roberts got his second RBI single with one out in the fourth, lacing a ball into short right field. Roberts would score himself on a fielding error. The MoonDogs scored their third and final run of the inning on an RBI groundout by Metzgar, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead heading to the bottom half of the fourth.
The Express got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth after the first three batters all reached base against Quinlan. Austin Guzzo, who will participate in the NWL Major League Showcase in August, drew a lead off walk and was joined by catcher Rudy Rott on a sharp single to center field. Mickey McDonald, who will also travel to Madison for the Showcase, dropped a fly ball single between the Mankato outfielders in left, scoring Guzzo from second. Quinlan forced two fly-outs and a ground out to hold the Express to one run in the inning.
Guzzo blasted a double off the fence in deep left field, forcing a pitching change for the MoonDogs as Cooper Powell replaced Quinlan with one out in the top of the sixth. McDonald drove in Guzzo for the second time in the game on an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 7-2 with three innings remaining.
The MoonDogs added three runs to extend their lead to 10-2 before the seven inning stretch. Walks plagued Ogg in the inning, loading the bases on two walks and a Shepski double down the line in left. Adams drove in a run on an infield single, and another run crossed the plate on a bases loaded Pingleton walk. Jake Sommers took over pitching duties following the walk, forcing a quick flyout and striking out Roberts swinging. Hamilton scampered home on a wild pitch for the final run.
Mankato would strike one last time in the top of the ninth, when pinch-hitter Brett Newberg pulled a solo home run just out of the reach of McKenna in right field. Newberg, who primarily appears as a pitcher for Mankato, hit his first home run in just seven at bats this summer.
Sean Terres did not allow a run in two innings of work, ensuring that the Express could not mount a big rally to recapture the lead. MacDonald was credited with the loss for his three innings of work. McDonald led the Express offense with two RBI’s on one hit. Guzzo scored twice, finishing the game with an extra base hit.
Jon Roblez will make his fourth start of the season tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. against these same Mankato MoonDogs. Since switching to a starting role, Roblez has been very impressive, holding a 2.73 ERA and a 2-0 overall record. The right-hander from Alabama State has won his last two starts, including a six-inning shut out against the La Crosse Loggers on July 23rd. Earlier this month, Roblez pitched a seven-inning no-hitter, but did not receive a decision as the St. Cloud Rox sent the game into extra innings.
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.