The victory gives the Express a 14-15 overall record, while the Bullfrogs fall to 22-7. The Bullfrogs clinched the first half South Division title last night with a victory over Alexandria.
In the first-ever meeting between the two teams, the Express would jump out to 4-0 lead in the second. In that second inning, Nick Wichser (UW-Milwaukee) was hit by a pitch to leadoff. Then on a sacrifice attempt by Piazza, Wichser beat the throw at second to put runners at first and second. An infield single by Mike LaLuna (New York Tech) loaded the bases. Jonathan Merritt (Alabama-Birmingham) drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly. Bryce Nimmo (Nebraska) then walked to load the bases again. Bryan Frew (Nebraska-Omaha) then smacked a single to right that scored both LaLuna and Piazza. The final run of the inning came when the Express tried a double steal and the shortstop could not pickup the ball, which allowed Nimmo to score from third and the give the Express a 4-0 advantage.
The Bullfrogs got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Kurt Yacko hit a RBI single to make the score 4-1. They then would tie it in the sixth. A single and a sacrifice put a runner at second with one out. Another single put runners at the corners. Justin Behm then scored on a fielder’s choice. A RBI single by Kurt Steinhauer and a RBI double by Dillon Bell tied the contest 4-4.
Then in the bottom of the eighth, Dominic Piazza drilled a slider over the fence in right field to give the Express a 5-4 lead. Kole Calhoun (Yavapai) came in to close the game in the ninth and would strikeout the final batter as the Express defeated the Bullfrogs 5-4.
Joe Bonfe (Creighton) (1-1) picked up the win in relief. Bonfe pitched 2.1 innings, allowed just one hit, and struck out four. Calhoun earned his seventh save of the season. Frew went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs to lead Eau Claire at the plate.
The Express and Bullfrogs will play the second game of a two-game series tomorrow at Carson Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.