Eau Claire, WI – In his fifth start with Eau Claire (16-21) this season, Dallas Baptist starter Luke Eldred delivered the first complete game of the year for the Express in a 5-3 win over the La Crosse Loggers (14-21) at Carson Park Wednesday night.
After allowing three La Crosse runs to score in the first inning, Eldred (2-1) hunkered down to silence the Loggers for the next eight frames, striking out six and walking just one on his way to earning Marshfield Clinic Player of the Game honors. The walk issued in the sixth was just his second of the entire season, the least amount of free passes given up by any Northwoods League starting pitcher in 2017 (min. 30 innings).
On the night, Eldred faced 34 Loggers batters and allowed just seven of them to reach base as he lowered his seasonal ERA to 3.54, the third-lowest mark of any Eau Claire starting pitcher this season.
Tied up at three runs each in the bottom of the sixth, Express shortstop Justin Evans launched a two-run homer onto the turf of the Carson Park Football Stadium that rests beyond the left-center field wall. Evans was the driving force behind Eau Claire’s offensive efforts on the night, going 2-2 with a walk, a single, the homer, a run-scored and two RBI. The Columbus State sophomore also came up big in the field, ranging to his left to make this diving stop and throw for the final out of the ballgame.
The Express will be back at Carson Park on Thursday night to take on the Loggers again at 6:35 PM. Drew Gillespie (1-2) out of New Mexico is excepted to get the start for Eau Claire in that one, coming off a nightmare of a start in which he allowed six runs in the first inning of a June 30th game against the Mankato MoonDogs. In 15 innings pitched for the Express in 2017, Gillepsie has struck out 16 and walked seven over the course of three starts.
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.