Duluth Loses Entire Bench

The victory gives the Express their third straight victory and a 4-1 record in the second half. The Huskies drop their first game of the second half and fall to a record of 4-1.

After Duluth stranded a runner at third in the first, the Express caught a break in the bottom of the inning when with the bases loaded and two outs, Nick Wichser (UW-Milwaukee) hit a groundball towards short, but the ball was misplayed, which allowed Bryce Nimmo (Nebraska) to score and give the Express a 1-0 lead.

A Duluth error once again contributed to Express runs in the third. Kole Calhoun (Yavapai) led off the inning with a single. Dominic Piazza (Nebraska) followed that with a single of his own to put runners at first and second. Justin Uribe (UCLA) then laid down a bunt, but the throw trying to get Uribe would be wild, which allowed Calhoun to score. Wichser then singled up the middle to score Piazza to give Eau Claire a 3-0 lead. Jacob Jefferies (UC-Davis) had a single of his own to drive in Uribe to make the score 4-0. Jonathan Merritt (Alabama-Birmingham) followed that with a squeeze bunt to score Wichser and make the score 5-0 Eau Claire.

The top of the fourth inning is what most people will remember from this game. With one out Justin Ellrich would get hit by a pitch, but also swung at the pitch. Duluth came out to argue and before you know it, two players and coach were ejected and the entire Duluth bench was forced to go into the locker room for the remainder of the game. The only time they could come out was if they were warming up or actually playing in the game. The whole incident lasted for around 25 minutes.

That seemed to wake up the Huskies as they would get the bases loaded following the incident and Chris Schaeffer would draw a walk to make the score 5-1. Eau Claire answered in the bottom of the fourth. Bryan Frew (Nebraska-Omaha) led off with a double. Calhoun singled to put runners at the corners. After Calhoun stole second, Uribe walked, but on a ball four the ball got passed the catcher to allow Frew to score. Calhoun then scored on a throwing error on pickoff attempt to make the score 7-1.

The Huskies then would get two runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Ellrich and a ground-rule double by Tony Plagman to cut the Express lead to 7-3. Then with the bases loaded in the seventh, Chris Dove doubled to left scoring two runners, but Jonathan Merritt on the relay would get Plagman at the plate to end the inning. With the score 7-5 in the top of the eighth and runners at first and second, the Huskies made a base running mistake on a double steal, where the lead runner didn’t try to advance. The Express would get the runner in the rundown and retire the side.

Kole Calhoun provided some insurance in the eighth with his first home run of the season, a solo blast off the right center field scoreboard to give the Express an 8-5 advantage. Calhoun then struck out the side in the ninth to earn his ninth save of the season and give the Express an 8-5 victory.

Adam Worthington (Illinois-Chicago) (3-1) went seven innings and struck out six to get the win. Kyle Blair (1-1) picks up the loss for Duluth. Calhoun goes 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored to lead the Express at the plate.

It will be “Turn Back the Clock Night” at Carson Park tomorrow night. The Express and the Huskies will pay tribute to the Northern League by wearing replica jerseys from the past, Eau Claire as the '52 Eau Claire Bears and Duluth as the '61 Duluth Dukes. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.