The Eau Claire Express defense didn’t get much work in Saturday. It has Tanner Kohlhepp to thank for that.

The Eau Claire native turned in his best outing of the season in a 6-0 Express win over Thunder Bay, pitching eight shutout innings with 15 strikeouts. The right-hander held the Border Cats to five hits and earned his second victory of the summer.

Kohlhepp struck out at least one batter in each of his eight innings of work, and struck out the side in the second and fourth frames. He only issued one walk all evening.

The Express offense took care of the rest, led by Matt Bottcher. The Northwoods League batting title contender punched two base hits and stole a base for Eau Claire. Sam Kohnle doubled and drove in two runs to add to the Express attack.

Eau Claire took a 1-0 lead on Cole Cabrera’s sacrifice fly in the top of the third inning and never looked back.

The Express broke things open in the seventh and eighth. They scored three times in the seventh and twice more in the following inning. Kohnle’s two-RBI double in the seventh got things rolling, and Brock Burton added an RBI single in the eighth.

Seven of Eau Claire’s nine starters had a hit in the victory.

The Express improved to 10-5 in the second half of the Northwoods League season and 29-22 overall. Game two of the four-game set with Thunder Bay is this afternoon. Winona State pitcher Nick Herold will take the mound for Eau Claire, looking for his third victory. He sports a 3.20 ERA entering the contest.