Rochester, Minn- Knotted up at six runs each in the top of the ninth, Eau Claire (2-2 Second Half, 17-23 Overall) catcher Robby Campillo (New Mexico) crushed a solo homer deep into the night to give the Express a 7-6 lead, and eventually a win over the Rochester Honkers (2-2 Second Half, 18-21 Overall) at Mayo Field Saturday night.
Campillo’s first home run of the season was an absolute no-doubter, and couldn’t have come at a more opportunistic time for Eau Claire. The Express dugout emptied upon hearing the crack of the bat, as Campillo was mobbed by his teammates after taking his trip around the bases.
Making his 2017 debut and picking up the win for Eau Claire was a returner from last season, Jake Sommers (UW-Milwaukee) (1-0). The right-hander was brilliant working through the game’s final three innings, striking out five and walking none while allowing just three hits. For an Express bullpen that has struggled to hold leads as of late, the arrival of the hard-throwing Sommers could, hopefully, bring a calming presence to team’s stable of relief arms.
Third baseman Kyle Marinconz (Cal Poly) and first baseman Rudy Rott (Ohio) also turned in solid performances at the plate, with Marinconz going 3-4 with an RBI and Rott driving-in a couple of runs on one hit. Both Marinconz and Rott are talented bats that have yet to get going for the Express in 2017, but with more performances like this out of this duo, Eau Claire’s lineup could easily transform into one of the deepest in the North Division.
The Express with travel to Duluth on Sunday for a 3:05 PM matchup with the Huskies. Aaron Shortridge (California) (3-1) is slated to get the nod on the mound for the Express in that one, as he’ll look to pitch into the seventh inning or later in for the fourth straight start.
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 180 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.