Eau Claire, WI- After sweeping a doubleheader with the Willmar Stingers the day before, the Express (14-7 Second Half, 29-28 Overall) kept the good times rolling Thursday night by crushing the Waterloo Bucks (8-13 Second Half, 32-25 Overall) 10-1 under the lights of Carson Park.
Dominant starting pitching has been the constant for Eau Claire from the beginning of the team’s, now, eight game win-streak, and tonight was no different. Drew Gillespie (New Mexico) (3-3) wove together seven spectacular inning of one-run ball, in which he struck out eight Bucks hitters while surrendering just two hits.
After a rocky start to his season, Gillespie has lowered his season earned run average to 3.75, after seeing it rise above 6.00 just two starts ago. The right-handed freshman has reached the seventh inning in each of his last two outings (including this one), giving up just three hits in those 14 combined frames of work.
The Express offense hung 13 runs on the Stingers in the first game of yesterday’s dual-ticket, and was back for more on Thursday, breaking the double digits mark once again by pushing across 10 runs against Waterloo.
First baseman Kyle Marinconz (Cal Poly) got things going in the first with a two-run homer that nearly cleared the Carson Park Fan Deck in right field. Marinconz would go on to earn Marshfield Clinic Player of the Game honors after finishing the day with one more hit and three total RBI.
One of the latest additions to the Eau Claire roster, third baseman Trevor Schwecke (UW Milwaukee) had himself a breakout game of sorts, by going 2-4 with a double and three runs driven-in
Schwecke’s college teammate, Jake Sommers (UW Milwaukee) pitched two solid innings in the eighth and ninth, striking out two while keeping the Bucks off the board to close things out.
As of the writing of this recap, the Willmar Stingers trail the Rochester Honkers by a score of 7-2 in the seventh inning. Should that score hold, the Express will take full-control of first place in the second half North Division standings with a one-game lead over the Stingers.
Eau Claire and Waterloo will be back at Carson Park tomorrow night, for a 7:05 PM showdown that will see the Express try for their ninth consecutive victory. Ryan Zimmerman (St Thomas) (2-2) will be the man on the mound for Eau Claire, coming off a start in which he held the Bismarck Larks to one run through six innings.
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.