Willmar, MN – Eau Claire traveled to Willmar Wednesday night to face the hometown Stingers. The Stingers, celebrating their opening day of the season, kicked off with a win over the Express with a final score of 8-6.
The troubles started for Eau Claire in the bottom of the 1st inning, as starting pitcher, Trey Felker (Montevallo) gave up a solo home run to Willmar’s Scott Anderson. Anderson proved to be a thorn in the side of Express pitchers all night, as the Stingers star went 3 for 4 on the night, and drove in 3 runs.
Felker stayed in longer than previous Eau Claire starters in the young season, but Willmar had his number in the bottom of the 4th inning. They tacked on 4 more runs on 4 hits, and sloppy fielding led to 4 costly errors.
The scoring cooled down between the two teams following the 4th inning, as Nick Fitzanko came in to pitch, throwing 4 strikeouts in 3 innings, and keeping the Stingers in line.
In the top of the 7th, it was Eau Claire’s turn to score, as they loaded the bases up on walks. This led to a Grant Gilooly (Santa Fe CC) groundout RBI, which scored the lead runner. Willmar retaliated though in the bottom of that same inning, where they responded with a quick 2 unearned runs.
Hunter Rosenbaum made his Eau Claire debut, coming in in the bottom of the 8th inning, and immediately found himself facing a tough test. After filling the bases, he hung strong and struck out the final 3 batters for the Stingers, working his way out of an early-season jam.
The top of the 9th featured an Express team that was determined to not go down without a fight. Facing a 7-run deficit, Eau Claire came to the plate and started feasting off the Willmar pitching staff. Camden Ross (Western Kentucky) started things off with a double, followed by a Gilooly double, which scored Ross. DJ Massey (Central Arizona) then worked his way onto the bases following an error by the Willmar 3rd baseman. This error, paired with heads-up baserunning led to Tanner Marsh (St. Thomas) and Gilooly coming home and scoring.
A few more singles from Ryan Nagelbach (UIC), Reed Latimer (Montevallo), and Barry Eiseman (Montevallo) rounded out the hitting for the Express on the night, and Bronson Rivera (Hawaii) drove in the final run for the team, bringing the score to a halt at 6-8, before the final out.
The Express will stay in Willmar to face the Stingers again this Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. CST.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its’ 29th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, 300 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. 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.