By Josh Metz
Eau Claire Express Director of Media Relations
Tuesday, July 10 - The Eau Claire Express led comfortably for the majority of the game, but the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters made it interesting in the ninth inning. The Rafters got the tying run on first base, but the Express held on for the 7-4 victory, to take the 3-game series Tuesday night, in front of 2,307 people at Carson Park.
After a doubleheader split with the Rafters last night, the two teams battled in the rubber match at Carson Park. The Express struck first, taking a lead they would not give up during the game.
In the second inning, with two outs, third baseman Jimmy Allen (Cal Poly) reached on a single. Nick Addison (UIC) followed with a double to left-center to bring home Allen for the 1-0 lead.
The Express tacked on another run in the third on a solo home run by Ty Forney (UTPB) to left field, it was his fourth of the year. Eau Claire got more of a cushion in the fourth inning.
With two outs, it was once again Allen that got things going, this time with a double. Addison was then hit by a pitch and that brought up his UIC teammate, Ryan Shober. Shober has been struggling at the plate all year, but this time he came through in a big way. With one strike, Shober hammered the next pitch to left field and just like that, the Express had a 5-0 lead.
That cushion was more than enough for starting pitcher Devin Moore (Indiana State), who was making his first start after a rough outing on the Fourth of July. Moore was on his game though Tuesday night. He did not walk a single batter and gave up only six hits over seven innings and gave up two runs (zero earned).
The Rafters cut the Express lead to three in the fifth inning, but Eau Claire quickly responded to extend the lead back to five in the bottom of the fifth.
Things stayed that way until the ninth inning, and that's when it got interesting. Matt Lynch (Heartland CC) started the inning and walked the first two batters he faced.
Not wanting to mess around anymore, the Express brought on closer Tony Vocca (Utah). But Vocca struggled with his control just as much, walking the first batter he faced. He struck out the next batter with the bases loaded, but walked the next two batters to bring home two runs to cut the lead down to three.
Vocca was done messing around though, striking out the next batter and ending the game when he induced a fielder's choice to Forney at second base.
It was the first series win for the Express in the second half and it improves their record to 2-4 in the second half. They will be home again Wednesday night to start a two game series with the Wisconsin Woodchucks. The series will wrap up Thursday night in Wausau.