WATERLOO, IOWA- The Waterloo Bucks (22-11) took control of the game early on and never looked back in an 8-3 win over the Eau Claire Express (14-19). The St. Cloud Rox also won on Saturday, July 1 so the Rox and Bucks remained tied for first place in the Northwoods League North Division.
Eau Claire drew first blood just two batters into the ball game on an bouncing RBI single up the middle by Ty Greene. After the shaky start, Hunter Spencer (4-2) recovered to strike out the next three Express hitters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, Ian Nelson changed the momentum of the game with one swing of the bat on a two-run homer to right center, his first long ball of the season. Tyler Stover added onto the Bucks lead with an RBI single to left field and Joe Genord followed it up with an RBI double to the left center field gap. The Bucks were not done yet as Deion Thompson singled up the middle to bring around Genord and John Cable delivered an RBI triple rounding out the offensive onslaught. After the first inning, the Bucks were out in front 6-1 and they knocked the Express starting pitcher Ryan Zimmerman (1-2) out of the game quickly.
Stover knocked in his second run of the ballgame on an RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second and in the bottom of the third inning, Nelson contributed again with a flare to right field that worked as an RBI single making it 8-1 Bucks after three innings.
The Express showed life in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Justin Evans to left and Zach Ashford punched an RBI single up the middle in the fifth but that's all the comeback Eau Claire could muster.
Spencer struck out six batters in six innings before handing the ball off to Matthew Perea who set down the six hitters he faced in order.
After the 8-3 Bucks victory, Waterloo continued their first half title quest tomorrow, July 2 at Riverfront Stadium against Eau Claire to wrap up the two-game series at 2:05 p.m.
The Waterloo Bucks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, more than 160 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.waterloobucks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Bucks as your favorite team.