Wild pitch gives Express 3rd walk-off victory of the season

·3 min read

Jun. 11—The Eau Claire Express certainly have a flair for the dramatic this summer.

Max Blessinger scampered across home plate on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning on Thursday, giving the Express their third walk-off victory of the season in a 5-4 win over Waterloo at Carson Park.

The Express have won four times this season. Three came on the final play of the game.

"I think we have a really good group and a lot of talent," Express catcher Connor Burns said on the Northwoods League broadcast following the game. "Our staff is pretty awesome on the mound. I think they make a lot of quality pitches. ... When our offense really just comes together, I think we're going to be winning a lot more games."

Eau Claire recovered from a shaky start against the Great Plains East-leading Bucks. Waterloo scored three times in the first inning off Express starter Jack Brown to take an early lead.

But Brown, an Eau Claire native, buckled down from there. He went six innings and struck out six. The bullpen was flawless too. Waterloo only scored once over the final eight innings.

"I think what the big thing was is that they were hunting early, making good contact," Burns said on the broadcast. "I was talking to Jack and said 'Let's mix it up a little bit.' Shout out to Jack for making some adjustments, he pitched well throughout that rest of the time."

Trailing 4-1 entering the late innings, Burns injected some life into the Express with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth.

"He kind of just left a change-up up there and it was right in the swing path, so that was awesome," Burns said of the homer.

Eau Claire tied it on Ryan Lin-Peistrup's RBI single in the eighth.

With each extra inning beginning with a runner on second base, the Bucks had a chance to retake the lead in the 10th after they bunted the runner to third base to start the frame. But Express reliever Nick Herold got a strikeout and a groundout to escape the threat.

In the bottom of the 10th, Nick Marinconz bunted Blessinger over to third. It only took a few more pitches before he sprinted home on a wild pitch to send the Express home happy.

Perhaps the most spectacular play of the evening came in the outfield, when center fielder Henry George laid out while running toward the wall for a SportsCenter-worthy catch in the eighth inning.

Preston Godfrey and Alex Logelin led Eau Claire with two hits each. The Express improved to 4-7 this season.

Eau Claire closes out its homestand with another game against Waterloo on Friday night before traveling to St. Cloud for a two-game set with the Rox on Saturday and Sunday.

Eau Claire 5, Waterloo 4

Waterloo 301 000 000 0 — 4 9 1

Eau Claire 010 002 010 1 — 5 8 0

WP: Nick Herold (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB). LP: Jordan Nelson (2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Leading hitters: Eau Claire: Preston Godfrey 2-3, Alex Logelin 2-4 (RBI), Connor Burns 1-3 (HR, 2 RBI). Records: Eau Claire 4-7, Waterloo 8-3.