EAU CLAIRE, WI – The La Crosse Loggers scored four runs in the ninth inning at Carson Park on Thursday night for an improbable come-from-behind 9-8 victory over the host Eau Claire Express.
The Lumbermen jumped out in front first in this see-saw battle when they plated two runs in the third and then added another two runs in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead for starter Taylor Turner (Madonna), who tossed a solid five innings, surrendering only one run in the fifth before departing with a 5-1 lead.
That lead was short-lived however, as Eau Claire would plate six runs in the sixth off of relievers Andrew Owen (Villanova) and Joe Rosenstein (Washington State) to take a 7-4 lead.
The two teams would trade blows in the eighth, with each scoring a single run to make the score 8-5 heading to the top of the ninth and set the stage for the drama that would ensure.
After Luke Rasmussen (Long Beach State) and Kennie Taylor (Duke) would each reach base via a hit-by-pitch, Logger third baseman Ryan Mantle (Creighton) would send a 2-0 offering from Express closer Victor Chavez over the fence for a three-run homer to knot the score at eight. Just one batter later, Loggers first baseman David Villar (South Florida) would put La Crosse ahead with a solo shot to make the score 9-8 heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The Loggers called on right-hander Peter Hamot (Lewis) in the ninth and after retiring the first two batters, he issued a two-out walk and then surrendered a single to centerfield that put runners on the corners before getting a groundout to end the game and secure the wild 9-8 victory for the Loggers.
Nick Kahle (Washington) led the Loggers offensively with a three-hit night and reached base six times. Villar and Cam Cannon (Arizona) also collected two hits apiece and Mantle drove in a team-high five runs en route to the victory.
The Loggers will now return home to embark on a five-game homestand beginning on Friday night when they welcome the Duluth Huskies to town for a 7:05 p.m. contest. Gates open at 6 for Happy Hour in the Howie's Home Run Hangout and the world-famous ZooperStars will be on hand to entertain, followed by a post-game fireworks extravaganza, presented by Toro.