WAUSAU (PRESS RELEASE) - The Wisconsin Woodchucks dropped game two of the South Division Championship Series Wednesday to the visiting Eau Claire Express. The Woodchucks offense was unable to get anything off of Eau Claire starter Ian Campbell, and the series will move back to Eau Claire for a decisive game three on Thursday night.
The first five innings were dominated by pitching and defense, as the sixth inning began less than an hour after first pitch. Only four Woodchucks found their way aboard in the first five frames, while two Eau Claire hitters would find their way on off of Woodchucks starter Jason Martyn.
Jason Martyn, who recorded the save in Tuesday night's game, put in a valiant effort and lasted 5.2 innings. Heading into the sixth inning, leadoff hitter Drew Heithoff walked, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nolan Fadness. After Lucas Herbst grounded out, Steve McGuiggan hit a scorching liner just past the glove of a diving Robbie De La Cruz, scoring Heithoff and gave the Express a 1-0 advantage. Martyn went a strong 5.2 innings; allowing only 2 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run to score- all after pitching an inning less than 24 hours prior.
Jon Moscot relieved Martyn with runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth. Facing designated hitter DeMarcus Tidwell, one of Eau Claire's top hitters, Moscot came up with a clutch swinging strikeout to get the 'Chucks out of the jam. Moscot came out and retired the Express side of the seventh in order, but got roughed up in the eighth.
Headed into the eighth inning, the ‘Chucks still trailed the Express 1-0. NWL Batting Title Champion Drew Heithoff led off the inning, and hit a routine groundball to SS Brian Sharp. Sharp fielded the ball cleanly, but put Heithoff on second after throwing the ball high and wide of first baseman Robbie De La Cruz into the Express dugout. Nolan Fadness followed with a single, which would move Heithoff to third base. Fadness moved to second following a Lucas Herbst sacrifice bunt, putting two in scoring position for Nathan Orf. Orf then hit a 1-1 pitch to shallow right field, prompting Brock Stassi to charge in and make a diving attempt. Stassi was not able to make the catch, as the ball bounced in front of the leaping rightfielder and flew right passed him- allowing two runs to score.
Ian Campbell was untouchable Wednesday night, going 8.0 innings and allowing only 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 hit batsmen. Campbell did not allow a hit following the leadoff hitter in the fourth inning, mowing down the ‘Chucks lumber and notching the Express' first postseason victory.
Eau Claire got another unearned run in the ninth, as another Brian Sharp throwing error aided the Express in taking a 4-0 lead. Drew Freie finished the game for the Express, allowing only a one-out solo homerun to Travis Whitmore.
Game three of the series begins Thursday night, with a 6:35 first pitch at Carson Park in Eau Claire. Cory Hall and Matt McDaniel are the projected starters, as its win or go home baseball at Carson Park.
Courtesy: Wisconsin Woodchucks