La Crosse, WI- In his shortest start of the season since June 23rd, Express (6-7 Second Half, 21-28 Overall) starter Luke Eldred (Dallas Baptist) (2-2) was roughed up for five runs over the game’s first four innings, as Eau Claire fell to La Crosse (5-8 Second Half, 19-28 Overall) 5-3 on Thursday night.
In seven appearances with the Express this year, Eldred had walked just two batters, the same amount of free passes the right-hander issued in tonight’s contest. On a positive note, the Eau Claire bullpen combination of Ben Butler (San Jac) and Kenny Ogg (Ohio) kept the Loggers scoreless in the final four frames. Butler handled the fifth, striking out two and walking one, while Ogg took care of the sixth, seventh and eighth by allowing just two hits.
After falling down 3-0 in the second, the Express offense would strike back in the third on Justin Evans (Columbus St.) cracked his team-leading sixth home run. After La Crosse stretched their lead to four with a two-run fourth, the Eau Claire lineup would remain dormant until the eighth, when they pushed across two more runs on a Ty Greene (California) single.
On the night, the Express would collect just three hits and reach base a total of nine times including an error and five bases-on-balls.
Tomorrow Eau Claire will return to Carson Park for the first time in eight days to take on the Loggers at 7:05 PM. The Express will send right-hander Drew Gillespie (New Mexico) (1-3) to the mound for the seventh time this season. The freshman has run a 6.14 ERA in 22 innings pitched in 2017, but his 20/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a sign that there could be better things to come for the 19-year-old.
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.