Eau Claire, Wis.— The Eau Claire Express handed the Waterloo Bucks their seventh consecutive loss, sweeping today’s seven-inning double header with a 4-1 win in game two. Starter Jameson Lavery allowed just two hits in his second win of the season, while a Zach Ashford RBI triple paced the Express offense early in the game.
The second game of the seven-inning double-header games got underway with Kyle Leahy’s ball to Zach Ashford. Leahy started the game with a 1-2-3 inning, cooling the Express bats that proved so explosive in game one.
The Express defense looked dialed-in early. Following a lead off walk in the bottom half of the first, a line drive produced a double play to eliminate the base runner for starter Jameson Lavery. The right-hander from Footville, WI pitched out of a bases loaded situation with two strikeouts and a pop up to hold the scoreless tie through two innings at Riverfront Stadium.
Eau Claire could not be contained for long, as the offense kicked into high gear in the top of the third to take a 2-0 lead. Sam Hurt capitalized on a hanging breaking ball with a single to lead off the inning. Zach Ashford hit a sharp line drive right down the first base line that wound up in the corner of right field. The one-out triple scored Hurt for the first run of the game, and Ashford would tag up from third and score on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Marinconz.
Lavery retired the Bucks in order for the first time in the game in the bottom half of the third, clinging on to the early 2-0 lead.
Hurt would strike again on offense, with a two-run double off the left field fence in the top of the fourth to double Eau Claire’s lead to 4-0. Jared Mang led off the inning with his second single of the night and was joined on the base paths by Hurt, who laid down an excellent bunt single.
Adam McGinnis broke up Lavery’s no-hitter in the bottom of the fourth in resounding fashion. The North Division All-Star sent a ball deep to center field, clearing the barrier by a couple feet to put the Bucks on the board with a solo home run. It was McGinnis’s 11th home run of the season, sitting just one behind Varsho for the NWL lead.
A lead off double by Marinconz, an infield single Alex McKenna, and a walk drawn by Varsho put ducks on the pond with nobody out in the top of the fifth. However, Leahy came up with a clutch strikeout and forced the first double play of the day for Waterloo to end the inning unharmed.
Side-armer slinger Sean Maher would take over pitching duties from Lavery in the bottom of the sixth. Lavery was in line for his second consecutive win, looking to improve to 2-1 on the season. Maher made quick work of the three Bucks hitters he faced, inducing three straight groundouts, keeping the solid 4-1 Express advantage.
Closer Christian Tripp replaced Maher in the bottom of the seventh, looking for his team-leading ninth save of the year. Tripp forced a groundout, struck out the second batter he faced swinging, and repeated the result by fanning Travon Benton to close out the win.
Bucks starter Leahy pitched a seven-inning complete game, but his four runs allowed proved to be enough in his loss. Lavery picked up his second straight win for five innings of two-hit baseball, allowing just one run on a McGinnis homer. Sam Hurt was the leading man offensively for Eau Claire, finishing the 4-1 win batting 2-3 with two RBI’s on a double in the top of the fourth.
The Express will continue the series against the Bucks tomorrow night at Carson Park, looking to sweep the North Division playoff hopefuls. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. with just two games remaining in the season series between the two talented teams.
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.