Three Eau Claire Express pitchers combined for a shutout and Carter Graham hit a two-run double in the eighth inning to help the squad earn a 2-0 road win against Mankato on Sunday, Eau Claire’s third straight victory.
KC Swords did much of the work on the mound, allowing just two hits and four walks while striking out four in 6.1 innings. He was followed up by strong performances from Ross Carver and Nick Herold, with Carver getting the win and Herold the save.
Carver allowed just one hit in 1.2 innings, while Herold pitched a perfect ninth.
Graham was set up to be the hero thanks to strong two-out hitting from Eau Claire. After Mankato got through the first two Eau Claire batters, Eddie Park hit a single and Nick Marinconz advanced him with a walk. That allowed Graham to drive in the game’s only runs on a double to left field.
Park was the lone Express batter with multiple hits, earning a pair of singles. Graham, Omar Gastelum, Alejandro Macario and Max Blessinger each had a knock.
Eau Claire moved to 16-22 overall and 4-2 in the second half. The win secured the Express’ second three-game win streak of the season and second series sweep.
The Express return to Carson Park Monday to kick off a run of six home games in seven days. They open with a two-game series against Willmar before heading to Duluth for a doubleheader on Wednesday. Then they’re back in town Thursday through Sunday for series against Mankato and Rochester.
Monday’s series opener with the Stingers is set for a 6:35 p.m. start time.
NWL All-Stars named
Eau Claire catcher Connor Burns and reliever Nick Herold were named Northwoods League All-Stars on Friday. The duo will play for the Great Plains Division against the Great Lakes on Tuesday, July 20 in Mankato, Minnesota.
All-Stars were chosen in a vote by the 22 member teams of the Northwoods League. Ballots were cast by each team’s field staff and media contacts, according to a Northwoods release.
Herold has a 1.13 ERA and four saves after 16 innings of work in 11 games. Burns is hitting .198 but has four home runs and 11 RBIs in 27 games.