Coming off a heart wrenching loss Friday night and a bullpen meltdown on Thursday, the Chinooks needed something to jumpstart their confidence. A pair of long balls and 5 1/3 gutsy innings out of the pen by newcomer Rex Morrow (Madison College) certainly did the trick.
Lakeshore came back strong Saturday for a 10-6 win in their final game with the Eau Claire Express of their inaugural campaign.
The bats came out of the gates slow against Express right-hander Philip Walby. He started his evening by retiring the first six hitters to face him. Eau Claire got on the board first thanks to an error by Brian Anderson (Arkansas) and a wild pitch to take a 1-0 lead in the second.
Then things moved to the third…
Last night the third inning saw a huge momentum swing when the Express scored eight times to take control of the ballgame after the Chinooks scored four in the top half. Cody Yount (VCU), who was making his Chinooks debut, led off the inning with single. Scott Wilcox added a one out single, bringing Forrest Chadwick (Southern Maine) to the plate in a position to do some damage. He promptly unloaded on a 2-1 pitch to left field for his sixth home run of the season.
The Chinooks weren’t done either. A walk to Ryan Krill (Michigan State) extended the inning for Brian Anderson. He promptly followed in Chadwick’s footsteps for his fourth homerun of the season.
Knowing full well of the previous night’s proceedings the Express weren’t phased by the outburst. A leadoff single opened the frame. The second of four errors by the Chinooks defense put two on with nobody out. Starter Tim Verthien (UW-Lacrosse) recorded a strikeout for the first out opening the door for him to get out of the jam.
He didn’t do himself any favors when he fired a wild pitch to the next hitter, taking away the force at third. He then walked Will Fadness to load the bases. A sacrifice fly to left brought home the second run of the game for Eau Claire. Things went from bad to worse when Jimmy Allen singled to left. A throw anywhere close to the plate would have cut down Casey Gillaspie who stumbled around the bag at third. However, Ty Kamps (UW-Oshkosh) who was making his first start of the year in the outfield, threw the ball to the backstop allowing a second run to score. Alex Real would add a fourth unearned run on a double to pull the express even at 5 all.
Kamps made up for his error by driving in Ryan Krill and Charlie Markson (Notre Dame) with a two RBI single in the fifth, putting the Chinooks back up at 7-5. Lakeshore added three more in the seventh highlighted by a Krill RBI triple to go along with run scoring singles by Kamps and Yount.
Making his second start of the season, Tim Verthine was hoping for a repeat of his 5 1/3 innings of one hit ball against Battle Creek ten days ago. Things did not go according to plan tonight. Verthine was only able to get through 2 1/3 innings, putting even more pressure on a taxed Chinooks bullpen that had already used ten pitchers in the first two games of this series. New comer Rex Morrow would be called upon to get out of the jam. He was coming off an outing Thursday in which he surrendered four runs in one inning of relief.
Like everyone else on the team, tonight was his shot at redemption. Not only did he redeem himself, but the entire Chinooks bullpen as well. He fired 5 1/3 innings of three hit baseball, striking out eight along the way.
Nick Soldano was summoned out of the pen in the ninth to close it down. The Express put the first two on base and scored on a fielder’s choice ground out to shortstop. After a walk to load the bases, Tyler Sparger (Indian Hills CC) was called upon and recorded a punch out to end the game with the tying run in the on deck circle.
The Chinooks return home tomorrow for the first of two games against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters at 5:05. Don’t forget, the first 750 fans will receive a Gill Chinook bobble head presented by GS Design