Eau Claire, WI – In a Saturday night contest between the Great Plains East and West First Half Champions, the Stingers got the better of the matchup, beating Eau Claire 6-8.
Eau Claire stung first on a Tanner Sagouspe (Cal Poly) homer in the bottom of the 2nd inning. This 2-run blast sailed over the left-fielder’s head and just barely snuck through to the right of the foul pole.
Willmar quickly called Eau Claire’s raise, as the Stingers scored 2 of their own in the top of the very next inning. In the top of the fourth, Willmar took a break but got back to the scoring, adding 2 more in the top of the fifth.
Isaiah Katz (UW-La Crosse) was tapped for the start for Eau Claire and made it through four innings. In his appearance, he gave up 2 unearned runs on 7 hits with 4 strikeouts. After Katz came Rigel Verciglio (UIC), who struggled through 2/3 of an inning, giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. Nick Fitzanko (Missouri-St. Louis) relieved Verciglio and ate up the middle of the game, going for 2 2/3 innings and giving up 4 runs on 2 strikeouts. As Cameron Bagshaw came into finish the game, he did all that he could, yet Willmar’s lead was insurmountable.
The Express found themselves in a hole after Willmar took the lead in the fifth. Eau Claire looked to climb its way back into the ballgame and did this by tacking on some gritty runs, including a Temo Becerra (Stanford) steal of home plate in the sixth.
The top of the eighth inning saw a Willmar Stingers squad pour gas on the fire, scoring an extra 3 runs, partially thanks to a monster home run by one Stinger.
Eau Claire would not go down quietly though, as they kept the ballgame within reach in the bottom of the same inning, scoring 3 more runs. These runs came on Sagouspe’s second homer of the game, and a pair of big doubles from Dylan O’Connell (Western Kentucky) and Reed Latimer (UAB).
Eau Claire had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning, but ultimately was not able to capitalize, as Nate Witte grounded into the final out of the game.
The Express will get a rematch with Willmar tomorrow afternoon with first pitch coming at 2:05 pm CT. The game will again be held at Carson Park, and the theme for the game will be Military Appreciation. Military members, be sure to stop out to the game, and receive free admission to the action.
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’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 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, over 325 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.