After launching the first Express home run at Carson Park this season in Friday night's rain-shortened contest against Duluth, Luke Bandy stayed scorching hot Saturday night, going 5-5 with two doubles in Eau Claire's 7-3 victory over Thunder Bay (6-13).
Since joining the Express (6-11) last week, Bandy has ignited the team's offense almost singlehandedly, as he's hit .333 while taking over the club-lead in RBI (eight) over 21 official at-bats (His solo homer from Friday night won't enter the books until that game is finished on June 25th). If all that weren't enough, the Dallas Baptist second baseman has also contributed with his legs and glove, as he's already swiped three bags while playing fantastic defense at the keystone in his short time with Eau Claire.
While Bandy stole the show in tonight's win, the Express pitching staff played a major hand in keeping Thunder Bay's bats in check while the game's outcome was still up in the air.
Starter Ryan Zimmerman (2-1) tossed the first four innings of this one, allowing one run on four hits. The right-hander struggled with his command throughout tonight's outing, issuing as many walks as he did strikeouts (four), but still pitched well enough to hand over the game to the bullpen with a 2-1 lead. After Bandy drove in a couple runs in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-1, Eau Claire reliver Jack Wolger would take over, pitching 2.2 innings and recording four strikeouts.
Before he exited the game in the seventh, Wolger surrendered a couple runs to the Border Cats as they pulled within a run of tying the game at 4-3. But from that point on, Jake Moebius and Victor Chavez would snuff out any hope for a Thunder Bay comeback, as they combined to allow just two hits over the final 2.1 frames.
The Express will meet up with the Border Cats for one more contest in Thunder Bay tomorrow at 1:35 PM. Eau Claire will send right-handed starter Chase Dreger (1-1) to the mound in what will be his fourth appearance of the season.