Coming off their first walk-off win of the season, Eau Claire (4-6) drops the second half of a home-and-home series with the Honkers (4-6), 7-4 in Rochester.
Making his second start for the Express this season, losing pitcher Riley Johnson (0-1) lasted four and two-thirds innings, allowing six earned runs on six hits. The North Dakota State freshman matched his debut strikeout total of seven, but wasn’t able to avoid dishing out free passes Thursday night, walking five of the 26 Honkers he faced.
Rochester’s Eddie Mathis (1-2) earned the win for his eight-strikeout, zero-walk performance, in which he lasted six innings and surrendered just one run.
After Eau Claire struck first in the fourth on Robbie Campillo’s first RBI of the season, a single that scored Ty Greene from second base, Rochester responded in loud fashion the following inning. Putting together a six-run frame on four hits, four walks and an error, with four of those six runs crossing the plate with two outs to give the Honkers a 6-1 lead.
Eau Claire’s pitching staff, which has been nearly infallible to this point in the season, issued 12 walks over the course of this one. The aforementioned Johnson was responsible for five, reliever Cody Dye for another five, and finally Tanner Umentum for two additional bases on balls.
The Express would get three runs back in the seventh on run-scoring base hits from the team’s two Zach’s, Gilles and Ashford, to bring Eau Claire within two runs of a tie at 6-4.
However, the Honkers would tack on one more insurance run in the eighth to make it 7-4 before turning things over to Garrett Cobb, the man whom surrendered the winning-run in last night’s 4-3 Express victory. Cobb would redeem himself this time though, facing four batters in the ninth without allowing a hit to record his first save of the season, and put a bow on Rochester’s series-tying win.
The Express will be back at Carson Park tomorrow night to begin a four-game home stand, facing the Bismarck Larks (5-5) for the second time this year.
On the mound for Eau Claire will be University of St Thomas pitcher, Ryan Zimmerman (1-0). The junior turned a brilliant outing in his first appearance at Carson Park this season last Saturday, tossing six innings of two-run ball against the NWL leaders in runs-scored, the Mankato MoonDogs.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 170 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). 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 or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.