The Eau Claire Express couldn’t hold on to a two-run lead in the final five innings, falling 3-2 in walk-off fashion to open a two-game series with the Bismarck Larks on Thursday.
Eau Claire pushed ahead in the fifth, scoring a pair of unearned runs. Ryan Lin-Peistrup got home on an error, and two batters later Connor Burns made it 2-0 on an Eddie Park putout.
But Bismarck cut the deficit to one in the seventh on a Cal James home run to right field, then scored twice in the ninth to send the crowd home happy. After the Larks got their first three batters on, James sent Khalid Collymore home on a sacrifice fly to tie it. Then Cole Roberts ignited the celebration with a single to left field.
The Express mustered four hits, one each from Park, Nick Marinconz, Carter Graham and Zach Lechnir. Park had the team’s lone hit for extra bases, a double to center field in the third inning.
Eau Claire starter Nick Malmberg threw four shutout innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out a pair. Nick Herold took the loss, allowing both Larks runs in the ninth. The squad has gone 1-2 since the start of the Northwoods League’s second half, having opened with a split against the Duluth Huskies.
The Express close out their series with the Larks Friday, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. They then begin a migration back east, playing Mankato on Saturday and Sunday before returning for a two-game homestand. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., while Sunday is 5:05 p.m.