Eau Claire, Wis.—Despite falling behind 4-0 early in the first game of Friday night’s double-header, the Express came storming back with 10 straight innings, eventually defeating the Waterloo Bucks 12-5 in the postponed game. Wisconsin natives Daulton Varsho and Sam Hurt came up big at the plate, each tallying three RBI’s in the eventual blow out win. The Express will have a 30-minute break before returning to action in another seven-inning game against Waterloo.
Bryce Reichmann, starting pitcher for the Bucks, came out of the gate with a strong top of the first, needing just 10 pitches to send the Express down in order.
The Bucks got off to a hot start offensively too, with four quick runs on Jon Roblez in the bottom half of the first inning. Waterloo loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and a fielding error, with Adam McGinnis driving home two runs on a single through a gap in the infield. Errors would continue to extend the inning, allowing two additional runs to cross the plate on two possible double play balls.
Eau Claire would score immediately in the top of the second. Singles by Rudy Rott and Jared Mang put two runners on base for Alex McKenna, who slapped an opposite field RBI single to right, allowing Mang to cross the plate from second. The hit parade would continue with another RBI single from Zach Ashford, who would score the game-tying run on Sam Hurt’s two-out, two-run double that leveled the score at 4-4.
The Express would score six runs in the top of the fourth, taking a sizeable 10-4 lead to the halfway point in the seven-inning matchup. Rott was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and was joined by McDonald (single) and Cody Bohanek (bunt fielder’s choice) to load the bases yet again. Two wild pitches allowed one run on a wild pitch and one run on a passed ball to give the Express their first lead of the night. Daulton Varsho drove in two runs on a single to right field, and Mang would complete the inning with a deep two-RBI double to the wall at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo.
Zach Weatherford would tag Roblez again in the bottom of the fourth, driving in Zach Fricke on an infield single. Fricke and Jake Hand (who came into the game as a pinch-hitter) started the half inning with back-to-back singles. Roblez would force a soft line-out to end the inning, preserving the five run Express advantage.
Yet another reliever failed to prevent the explosive Express offense from threatening to extend the lead, when Daniel Agramont gave up three early base runners to load the bases. McDonald drew a lead off walk, Bohanek ripped a single, and Bohanek laid down a perfect bunt for Hurt. Hurt’s ground out was difficult enough to allow McDonald to score for the third time in the game, giving Eau Claire an 11-5 lead and forcing another Bucks pitching change. Varsho continued the scoring with an RBI infield single up the middle, growing his single season Eau Claire franchise record with 54th RBI of the 2016 campaign.
Roblez would close out his start with a scorless inning in the bottom of the sixth. The righty from Alabama State stood in line to get his third victory, barring a collosal collapse in the seventh and final inning. Roblez rebounded from early difficulty with a strong overall outing, allowing just one run in his final five innings of work.
Nick Davito made his debut in the bottom of the seventh, looking to preserve the large lead and close out Eau Claire’s game one victory. Davito gave up a lead off single to the shallow outfield at Riverfront Stadium, but quickly turned a double play to eliminate the base runner. One pitch later, Davito forced a ground out just in front of the plate, giving Eau Claire a 12-5 win.
Jameson Lavery will pitch the second game of today’s seven-inning double-header, hoping to carry the momentum from his first win of the season last week against Rochester, a one run, six-inning performance in his second start of the summer. Lavery will look to pick up his second win of the year against the Bucks tomorrow night in the late night matchup against. Lavery holds a 1-1 overall record in six games, with a solid 3.24 ERA. Lavery has proven to be a pitcher with elite control, walking just four batters in 16.2 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.