Split-site doubleheader, rain wear down Express squad

Members of the Eau Claire Express clear water off the field Wednesday during a rain delay at Carson Park. The Express had a long day that started in Wisconsin Rapids with a day game and then, back in Eau Claire, the restart of a suspended game and another scheduled game.

The Eau Claire Express boarded their bus early Wednesday morning on what was about to be the busiest day of the season.

At noon the team played a nine-inning game against the Rafters at Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids.

Then they hopped back on the bus and drove back to Eau Claire to complete a suspended game with the Rafters from June 30 at Carson Park.

Not done yet, the Express then hosted the Rafters for the originally scheduled nightcap — a full nine-inning game — upon the completion of the suspended game.

A minimum of 20 innings on one day, and then the team will travel to  Alexandria, Minn., today for the start of a two-game series with the Blue Anchors.

This is the first season that the Northwoods League implemented home-and-away doubleheaders in which the teams play at both their home parks on the same day.

Eau Claire blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning to lose the game in Wisconsin Rapids 8-7, but after getting back to Eau Claire from a series in Duluth after midnight Tuesday night, the team hardly had enough energy to learn from the loss.

All they wanted to do was sleep.

“It’s really hard,” Express infielder Mike Porcaro said. “The bus ride home was probably the quietest of the year. I don’t think it had anything to do with the loss, I think everybody was just dead tired.

“You just have to somehow find some energy. Take an energy drink or something, but you’ve got to somehow find enough energy to play the next game.”

Playing 72 games in 76 days can be taxing enough on the players, but having to sit on a long bus ride in between two nine-inning games allows the players to stiffen up and be at a higher risk for injury.

“I think it’s something new they were trying that was something unique that they wanted to put a little different spin on things,” Express general manager Andy Neborak said of the league. “Whether or not it worked, I’m sure they’ll evaluate at the end of the season based on some of the logistics that have been put in place with it.”

In order to make sure all the games are complete the league set a time limit for the openers of the doubleheaders, which led to the June 30 suspended game that at the time the Express believed they had won by scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning after the time limit had passed.

A 1 hour, 20 minute rain delay after the teams had resumed the suspended game back at Carson Park made a long day even longer. Eau Claire eventually won the suspended contest 10-3.

The nine-inning nightcap ended too late for publication.

“It’s just about staying focused,” third-base coach Matt Miller said. “Then we get this rain and it makes it even worse, but it’s just staying focused, staying positive.

“It’s something the league will hopefully get feedback from all the teams at the end of the year as far as doing this again next year.”


RAFTERS 8, EXPRESS 7

EXPRESS (7)

AB-R-H-RBI: Peter Van Gansen, ss, 2-1-2-2; Jeff Hendrix, cf, 4-0-1-1; Brian Mundell, dh, 4-0-0-1; Tyler Hermann, 3b, 5-0-1-0; Drew Turbin, 2b, 4-3-1-1; Alex Call, rf, 5-1-3-1; Lane Milligan, c, 3-0-0-0; Jack Zoellner, 1b, 4-1-1-1; Brady Burzynski, lf, 4-1-1-0; Orlando Meza, p, 0-0-0-0; Cody Peterson, p, 0-0-0-0; Eric Gleese, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 35-7-10-7.

RAFTERS (8)

Zack Domingues, ss, 4-1-0-0; Michael  Jurgella, lf, 4-1-1-1; Clark Eagan, rf, 5-0-3-3; Andre Moore, pr, 0-1-0-0; Keelin Rasch, 3b, 5-1-3-0; Ricky Ramirez, 2b, 4-1-1-0; Tyler  Servais, c, 3-1-1-0; Kirby McGuire, cf, 4-0-2-0; Nick Unes, 1b, 4-1-1-1; Shawn Hagarty, dh, 2-1-1-0; Domenic Mazza, p, 0-0-0-0; Blake Drabik, p, 0-0-0-0; Nolan Blackwood, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 35-8-13-5.

Express 010 013 110 — 7 10 2

Rafters 000 201 005 — 8 13 2

E — Hendrix, Call; Drabik 2. LOB —  Express 8; Rafters 7. 2B — Eagan. HR — Turbin. SB — Van Gansen 2, Turbin; Rasch. CS — Eagan. SAC — Mundell, Hendrix.

Express IP H R ER BB SO

Meza 6 8 3 2 3 2

Peterson 2 1/3 3 4 4 1 1

Gleese (L, 2-3) 0 2 1 0 0 0

Rafters

Mazza 5 3 2 2 4 6

Drabik 2 2/3 6 5 3 1 1

Blackwood 1 1/3 1 0 0 0 0

WP — Peterson. PB — Milligan. HBP — Servais (by Meza).

T — 3:06. A — 1,003.

EXPRESS 10, RAFTERS 3

RAFTERS (3)

AB-R-H-RBI: Erik Payne, ss, 4-0-1-0; Ramirez, 2b, 0-0-0-0; Michael Hurwitz, 2b, 5-1-2-1; Woody Woodward, cf, 4-0-2-0; Domingues, ss, 0-0-0-0; Connor McClain, ph/ss, 1-0-0-0; Rasch, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Mazza, ph, 1-0-0-0; Eagan, dh, 2-0-0-0; Nick Blackburn, ph, 1-0-0-0; Campbell Wear, c, 4-0-0-0; McGuire, c, 0-0-0-0; Cullen Gassaway, 1b, 3-2-1-0; Servais, cf, 0-0-0-0; Jurgella, rf, 2-0-1-0; William Elliott, lf, 4-0-2-2; Jason  Freeman, p, 0-0-0-0; Jeff Gogue, p, 0-0-0-0; Antonio Gonzales, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 34-3-9-3.

EXPRESS (10)

Burzynski, lf, 5-1-1-0; Hendrix, cf, 4-1-1-1; Daniel Salters, c, 5-1-1-0; Hermann, 3b, 4-1-1-1; Turbin, 2b/rf, 3-3-1-1; Mundell, dh, 3-1-1-4; Mike Porcaro, 2b, 3-0-2-0; Call, ph/rf, 1-1-1-0; Zoellner, 1b, 3-1-1-0; Mike Barajas, ss, 2-0-0-0; Van Gansen, ph/ss, 1-0-1-1; Eann Cox, p, 0-0-0-0; Cory Taylor, p, 0-0-0-0; Justin Jaquish, p, 0-0-0-0; Taylor Duree, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 34-10-11-8.

Rafters 011 001 000 — 3 9 3

Express 010 002 07x — 10 11 0

E — Rasch, Wear, Gonzales. LOB —  Rafters 11, Express 7. 2B — Woodward,  Elliott 2; Hendrix. HR — Hurwitz; Mundell. SB — Rasch; Turbin, Porcaro. SAC —  Jurgella; Zoellner. SF — Mundell.

Rafters IP H R ER BB SO

Freeman 5 4 1 0 1 4

Gogue 2 1 2 2 1 0

Gonzales, L (1-3) 1 6 7 6 2 0

Express

Cox 5 6 2 2 3 6

Taylor 1 2 1 1 1 0

Jaquish, W (1-0) 2 1 0 0 1 2

Duree 1 0 0 0 0 0

HBP — by Gonzales (Turbin); by Cox (Rasch).

T — 1:42. A — 1,510.