After a long drought, Eau Claire Express assistant coach Vic Cable told his team it was time to put a ball over the fence on Thursday.
Nick Marinconz listened.
Marinconz belted a three-run home run as part of a five-run fifth inning, lifting the Express to a 9-3 win over Mankato on Thursday at Carson Park.
“Coach Vic before the game said ‘It’s time to get a homer tonight,’ which is crazy,” Marinconz said on the Northwoods League broadcast. “I told him right after I hit that.”
Meanwhile, Eau Claire native Jack Brown pitched five strong innings to secure his third victory of the season. He held the MoonDogs to three runs on five hits and struck out three.
The Express (6-5 in second half, 18-25 overall) seized a four-run lead with four runs in the third inning. Eddie Park knocked an RBI double to break a scoreless tie before Robert Hogan and Fall Creek native Marcus Cline both followed with bases-loaded walks. Zach Lechnir also hit an RBI single in the frame.
Park added a two-RBI single in the fifth before Marinconz sent a shot over the left field wall.
“It actually was low and in, it was a tough pitch,” Marinconz said. “I was luckily able to get that. I don’t know how I lifted that up, to be honest.”
The victory opened up a four-game homestand on a high note and snapped a three-game skid for the Express.
Park finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a walk. The outfielder is hitting .356 with a .500 on-base percentage. He leads Express regulars in both categories.
“That’s just who I am, during this past college season I really relied on being patient,” Park said on the broadcast. “Just adjusting to the different environment out here, but just staying true to myself.”
Omar Gastelum added a pair of hits for the Express. Luke Trahan worked four scoreless innings in relief, limiting Mankato to one hit while striking out four in that span.
Eau Claire remains at home through the weekend. The Express close out the two-game series with Mankato on Friday before hosting Rochester for a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday.