Tanner Kohlhepp pitched seven standout innings of one-run baseball on the mound, and Vincent Martinez added a crucial RBI single in the ninth as the Eau Claire Express defeated Waterloo 3-2 on the road Friday.
Kohlhepp, an Eau Claire native, held the Bucks to one run on four hits in his time on the hill and struck out seven. The Express didn’t take the lead for good until the very end of his start though.
Spencer Myers led off the eighth with a single and eventually came in to score on a Waterloo error, and Martinez added a run with a single in the ninth to push the lead to 3-1.
Martinez’s insurance hit was important, as it gave just enough of a cushion for the Express to survive an RBI groundout from Waterloo’s Dylan Phillips in the bottom of the ninth.
Nick Herold secured the final couple of outs after the Bucks scored that run to give Eau Claire its fourth win in its last five games. The only loss in that span was due to Eau Claire committing a pitching rule violation in a game they otherwise would have won 4-2.
Kohlhepp, a Memorial grad who now plays college baseball at Tennessee, was never in much trouble on the mound. Waterloo didn’t get its first base runner until the third inning, and Kohlhepp retired the side in order in every inning but the seventh.
Eau Claire had taken a 1-0 lead on Nick Lopez’s RBI single to drive in David LaManna in the fifth.
Waterloo’s Alex Ronnebaum tied the game with an RBI single of his own in the seventh.
LaManna and Troy Beilsmith led Eau Claire with two hits apiece. Beilsmith also stole two bases.
The Express will look to sweep the three-game series in tonight’s finale. They take on the Bucks at 6:35 p.m. in Waterloo. Eau Claire currently holds first place in the Great Plains East Division standings, leading Waterloo by one game.
Eau Claire 3, Waterloo 2
Eau Claire 000 010 011 — 3 8 1
Waterloo 000 000 101 — 2 6 1
WP: Tanner Kohlhepp (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K). LP: Daniel Colwell (1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K).
Leading hitters — Eau Claire: David LaManna 2-3 (2B), Troy Beilsmith 2-3.
Records: Eau Claire 14-12, Waterloo 13-13.