LA CROSSE, WI – If you aren’t a fan of good pitching, you probably did not enjoy the Express/Logger game on Wednesday night. Pitchers from both teams were leaving it all on the field, in the end it was the Express squeaking by to a win.
The starter for the Loggers was Stephen Ruhle. Ruhle pitched a scoreless six innings with two hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. Unfortunately, Express starter Kale Hopke was at his best as well. Hopke pitched an effortless seven innings with no runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts.
The only run of the game would come in the top of the eighth inning. An error, single, and wild pitch would put Express runners on second and third. Dylan O’Connell caught a ball on the barrel and sent a liner toward right field. Ethan Frey caught the ball and threw toward home, but the throw was not in time. O’Connell’s sacrifice fly had scored one for Eau Claire, and that would be all the offense they would need.
After Hopke exited the game in the bottom of the eighth, reliever Daniel Reischl picked up where his starter left off. Reischl would earn the save with two innings pitched, allowing two hits and no runs. Brandon Fields had gotten himself to second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but it would be all for naught as Express outfielder Kaden Galason fielded a well-hit line drive by Danny Neri to end the game.
With the win, the Express improve to 15-15 and stay alive for home-field advantage in the future playoff series against the Loggers. Eau Claire has to win out while the Loggers have to lose out in order for the Express to host the first playoff series. With the loss, the Loggers fall to 25-6, needing one more win to secure home-field advantage against Eau Claire.