Express Walk-Off Again

The Express improve to 12-3 in the second half and with the Wisconsin Woodchucks losing tonight the Express take a half-game lead in the South Division. The win also matches a franchise record for wins in a season as Eau Claire improves to 29-20. Rochester falls to 7-9 in the second half and 25-25 overall. The Express sweep the Honkers for the first time in the team’s brief history.

It was a classic pitchers dual between Eau Claire’s Shane Dyer and Rochester’s Zach Robertson. Neither team had a hit thru the first five innings. That changed in the sixth when with runners at first and second with two outs, the Honkers’ Brett Featherston hit a deep double to left center that plated Brian Spear and Drew Hoisington to give Rochester a 2-0 lead.
Mike LaLuna (New York Tech) led off the bottom of the sixth with Eau Claire’s first hit, a double to deep center field. LaLuna however would be tagged out on a fielder’s choice. After another fielder’s choice, Jonathan Merritt (Alabama-Birmingham) would steal second. Then Nick Wichser (UW-Milwaukee) hit a double down the right field line to score Merritt to cut the Rochester lead to 2-1. David Cales (Illinois-Chicago) then singled to right and the throw home by the right fielder would beat Wichser, but the catcher was unable to hang on to the ball, while applying the tag as the Express tied it 2-2.

It remained tied until the bottom of the ninth. Bryce Nimmo (Nebraska) hit a pinch hit single to start the inning. Nimmo then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cales. Bryan Frew then stepped to the plate and drilled a 0-1 pitch that deflected off the shortstop and into center field and the throw home to get Nimmo was wide as the Express won 3-2.

David Cales (1-0) earned the win as he got out the only batter he faced in the top of the ninth. Dyer went 8.2 innings, allowed just one hit and struck out six. Reed Woytek (3-2) picked up the loss for Rochester. Robertson went eight innings, allowed just three hits, and struck out 10 in the no decision.

Eau Claire begins a two-game series with the South Division first half champions Green Bay Bullfrogs tomorrow night. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Carson Park.