Courtesy: (Eau Claire Express)
Wednesday, July 4 -- Another Fourth of July game, another loss for the Eau Claire Express.
It appeared that maybe this year was going to be different for the Express, but the end result was the same. After taking a 4-1 lead, the Lakeshore Chinooks scored 11 unanswered runs, to hand the Express a 12-4 loss on Independence Day.
Coming into the game, the Express had won just once on the Fourth of July, back in 2007. This year, for the first time, they wore stars and stripes jerseys and special Fourth of July hats. It looked like maybe the uniforms were going to bring the Express some luck this year.
The Chinooks took the lead in the second inning on starting pitcher Devin Moore (Indiana State). Moore, making his second start of the season, walked the bases loaded, and after recording a strikeout, walked in the first run of the game. He escaped further damage with a double-play ball.
Eau Claire responded in the bottom of the second and jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Josh Scheffert (Nebraska) singled to lead off the inning and Will Fadness (UW-Milwaukee) was hit by a pitch. Alex Real (New Mexico) singled to drive in Scheffert and tie the game.
With two outs, an error by the Chinook's second baseman extended the inning and Tim Zier (San Diego State) made them pay. Zier singled to drive in two runs and give the Express the lead.
They added another run in the bottom of the third. Casey Gillaspie (Wichita State) led off the inning with a single and Scheffert doubled to bring home Gillaspie.
But from there, it was all Chinooks. Moore continued to struggle with control problems and began to get hit around. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and was charged with seven runs on 11 hits and walked five. Reliever Bryan Crabb (San Diego State) didn't fare much better, going only 2/3 of an inning while allowing a run on three hits. Frank Salas (Chochise CC) finished the game, going the final four innings, while allowing four runs.
Scheffert finished the game 3-for-4 and was a home run short of the cycle. Zier was the only other Express player with multiple hits, finishing with two.
With the loss, the Express wrapped up the first half of the season. They finished 11-23 and in last place in the South Division. But starting on Thursday, everyone starts fresh with a 0-0 record. They travel to Madison for three games starting on Thursday. They don't return home until next week Tuesday when they take on the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.