(EAU CLAIRE EXPRESS) Sunday, August 5 — The first inning had the makings of a horrid start for the Eau Claire Express, but they quickly swung the momentum in their favor.
With one dropped pop-up and one swing of the bat, the momentum swung back over to the La Crosse Loggers, who never really let go the rest of the way, as the Express fell 8-4 in front of 2,722 people on a sunny afternoon at Carson Park.
Things could not have gotten off to a much worse start for Kye Winter (Augustana) who was finally making his first home start of the season. After getting the leadoff man to fly out, Winter hit the next batter, Matt Chapman.
With Bobby Juan at the plate, Will Fadness (UW-Milwaukee) threw out Chapman trying to steal second base. But trouble ensued for Winter. He walked Juan and hit Brandon Bednar. Then he walked Tyler Kuresa and with the bases loaded, walked Steven Pallares to give the Loggers the 1-0 lead. Winter was able to strike out Brenden Farney though to end the threat.
In the inning, Winter walked three batters and hit two others, but was able to escape with little damage. That seemed to carry over to the offense in the bottom of the first as the Express took the lead.
Nick Addison (UIC) and Casey Gillaspie (Wichita State) went back-to-back, for the team-leading tenth and eleventh homers of the season respectively. Gillaspie crushed his homer over the scoreboard in left center, one of the longest homers at Carson Park this summer.
But the Loggers were able to seize all of the momentum right back. Winter hit another batter to leadoff the inning and gave up a single to Jimmy Bosco with one out. Chapman came to the plate and hit a routine pop-up in foul territory, but it popped out of Gillaspie's glove for an error to keep the at-bat alive.
As fate would have it, just two pitches later, Chapman hit one out to left center to put the Loggers back on top, 4-2. They added another run in the third to go up 5-2. Winter settled in after that, but by then it was too late.
The Express cut the lead to 5-4 in the in fifth, but that is as close as they would get. Jimmy Allen (Cal Poly) led off the inning with a walk and with two outs, Tim Zier (San Diego State) singled to bring Allen home.
Addison and Gillaspie both walked to load the bases for Josh Scheffert (Nebraska). Scheffert hit an infield single near third base to bring home Zier for the fourth run of the game.
The Loggers added a run in the sixth and two more in the ninth and that was too much for the Express to come back from.
Winter went six innings and gave up six runs on five hits. He struck out six but was plagued by five walks, three hit-batters and three defensive errors. Matt Lynch (Heartland CC) pitched the final three innings and gave up two runs on four hits.
No Express player had more than one hit, with Gillaspie and Addison leading the way with their solo homers.
The two teams will meet again for the final time Monday night in La Crosse set to start at 7:05 p.m. The Express return home Tuesday for the final three home games of the year, a 3-game series with the Green Bay Bullfrogs.