A pair of lengthy weather delays did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Eau Claire Express on Sunday.
The Express used fast starts out of both delays to defeat the Duluth Huskies 6-4 at Carson Park for their second win in the last three games.
An outstanding performance from Eau Claire North grad Adam LaRock helped the Express swing the game in their favor.
“The rain delays were an hour long (each), and it’s tough to get right back into the swing of things, but we got on the board every time,” Express manager Dale Varsho said. “That was nice.”
LaRock tallied three hits at the bottom of the Eau Claire batting order, and made a diving catch over his shoulder to help the Express (6-14) escape a bases-loaded jam late in the game.
The Huskies (14-6) had loaded the bases in the top of the eighth trailing 5-4, but LaRock denied them the tying run with his standout catch.
“I saw that nobody was going to be able to make the play besides me. I just had an opportunity, I saw it and I conquered it,” LaRock said. “I had to go all out. I knew if it dropped they would have scored, so I just had to do it for the team.”
The Huskies had taken a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but Eau Claire didn’t wait long to answer.
Some sloppy baseball on the part of Duluth — a theme for the Huskies on Sunday — got Eau Claire on the board in the third inning to tie the game.
Spencer Myers advanced to third with the help of two errors after he hit a leadoff single, and came in to score on a wild pitch.
Devon Garcia’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded later in the inning gave the Express a 2-1 lead.
Eau Claire added to its lead when Andrew Pratt ripped an RBI double into the gap in left-center field to put his team up 3-1 in the fifth.
The game was hit with its first delay in the top of the sixth, as a flash of lightning and a heavy downpour stopped the game for almost an hour.
The Express wasted no in getting back into the swing of things after the delay. LaRock scored on a Duluth error in the sixth to extend Eau Claire’s lead. He had singled shortly after the delay ended.
“I just stayed short to the ball,” LaRock said. “I’ve been having some trouble with my swing, but today I just went back to the basics. … I took what they gave me.”
The Huskies made a game of it with three runs in the seventh, but that would be the extent of their scoring.
The second delay came late in the game and lasted another hour, but LaRock kept all the momentum in Eau Claire’s dugout with his catch.
After the Express tiptoed around Duluth’s eighth-inning rally, they added an insurance run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Cody Milligan. They had also scored in the seventh on a Duluth error.
Chippewa Falls native Trevor Olson earned the win, pitching one inning in relief and surrendering three runs.
The Express get their first off day of the season today before opening a two-game series against Waterloo at Carson Park.