Jordan Ruckman kept getting mad at himself. Walks and hit batters were the only things getting him into trouble.
It didn’t matter, though. The Express starter prefers throwing out of the stretch anyway. And when he was throwing strikes, they weren’t getting hit hard.
Ruckman escaped jams in the third and fourth innings unscathed and made it through six innings without giving up a run on two hits. The Express bullpen then made sure Daniel Salters’ first-inning home run stood as the game-winner, and Eau Claire beat the Alexandria Blue Anchors 1-0 on Sunday at Carson Park in a game that took just 1 hour, 57 minutes.
“I struggled and put a few too many guys on,” Ruckman said. “But I was able to make pitches and get out of innings.”
Ruckman cruised through the first two innings before a leadoff walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out in the third. Ruckman got two pop outs to end the inning. In the fourth, the left-hander walked two batters and hit another to load the bases, but he bore down again and got a fly out to center field to end the inning.
“When I’m out of the stretch, I feel better going to the plate,” Ruckman said. “In the windup, you can’t get comfortable all the time.”
Ruckman walked three and struck out three in six innings. His ability to pitch out of trouble proved vital for the Express (2-2), who couldn’t do much offensively either with their six hits.
Salters went 2-for-3 and delivered the big blow on a 1-0 pitch in the first inning with no one on and two outs. His high fly ball carried just enough on a humid afternoon to make it over the tall wall in right field.
“I wasn’t sure,” Salters said. “I knew I hit it decently. I hit it a little more up, it wasn’t enough on a line, but it carried out.”
The Express put six more runners on in the game, but four of those were erased on double plays. The Eau Claire defense turned three twin-killings of its own — including two in the final two innings to stomp out any chance of an Alexandria comeback — and didn’t commit an error.
“With the defense we have, just let them hit it,” Ruckman said. “If you let them hit it, they’re going to get out. Our fielders have been great. They’ve been great all year. I trust them all. Can’t thank them enough.”
Brett Seeburger pitched two scoreless innings before Eric Gleese picked up the save in the ninth to complete the five-hit shutout and give Eau Claire its second win in a row and third in its last four games.
“I think we have something going,” Salters said. “The team is really starting to mesh together and have a lot of fun together.”
EXPRESS 1, BLUE ANCHORS 0
BLUE ANCHORS (0)
AB-R-H-RBI: Craig Nennig, ss, 4-0-1-0; Jordan Lee, cf, 3-0-0-0; Nehwon Norkeh, cf, 0-0-0-0; Kris Goodman, 3b, 4-0-0-0; Roman Collins, rf, 3-0-1-0; Rickey Sanchez, 1b, 3-0-1-0; Aaron Gretz, c, 3-0-0-0; Dalton Leuschke, dh, 2-0-1-0; Jake Bergren, lf, 3-0-1-0; Cam Duzenack, 2b, 2-0-0-0; Spencer Koopmans, p, 0-0-0-0; Graylon Brown, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-0-5-0.
Peter Van Gansen, ss, 3-0-1-0; Mike Porcaro, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Daniel Salters, rf, 3-1-2-1; Tyler Hermann, 3b, 3-0-1-0; Drew Turbin, lf, 3-0-0-0; Brian Mundell, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Jack Zoellner, dh, 2-0-0-0; Jeff Hendrix, pr, 0-0-0-0; Brent Gibbs, c, 3-0-0-0; Brady Burzynski, cf, 3-0-2-0; Jordan Ruckman, p, 0-0-0-0; Brett Seeburger, p, 0-0-0-0; Eric Gleese, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-6-1.
Blue Anchors 000 000 000 — 0 5 0
Express 100 000 00x — 1 6 0
LOB — Blue Anchors 7, Express 3. 2B — Burzynski. HR — Salters. SB — Lee; Van Gansen, Burzynski. CS — Leuschke. SAC — Duzenack.
Blue Anchors IP H R ER BB SO
Koopmans, L (0-1) 6 4 1 1 1 1
Brown 2 2 0 0 0 1
Ruckman, W (3-0) 6 2 0 0 3 3
Seeburger 2 2 0 0 0 0
Gleese, S (3) 1 1 0 0 1 0
PB — Gretz. HBP — by Brown (Zoellner), by Ruckman (Collins, Leuschke).
T — 1:57. A — 918.