Halvorson helps keep Express’ postseason hopes afloat

Aug. 11—The Eau Claire Express are keeping pace in the hunt for a Northwoods League playoff spot. But time isn’t on the team’s side.

The Express stayed in the hunt with an 8-1 win over La Crosse on Tuesday in La Crosse, but didn’t gain any ground in the Great Plains East standings after fellow playoff hopeful Duluth also won.

Eau Claire trails Duluth by two games for second place with four contests left on the schedule. With Waterloo likely to repeat as the division’s second-half champion after winning the first-half title, the team in second place would make the postseason.

Eau Claire native Tanner Halvorson was lights-out on the mound to keep the Express in the picture. The former North Husky star pitched seven innings, holding the Loggers to three hits and one run. He struck out eight.

Zach Lechnir hit a two-RBI single in the second inning to give the Express a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Connor Burns added a run-scoring single in the sixth before Eau Claire broke things open in the ninth. The Express plated five runs in the final inning, highlighted by a two-RBI double from Ryan Lin-Peistrup.

Menomonie native Jace Kressin closed out the game, pitching two scoreless innings.

The Express (14-18) will travel to Waterloo to take on the first-place Bucks (17-12) in a two-game series beginning Wednesday. Waterloo has a 2.5 game-lead atop the Great Plains East. Garrett Reisz (3-4, 4.30 ERA) is likely to start on the mound for Eau Claire in the series opener.

Following the Waterloo series, Eau Claire closes with two games against the Willmar Stingers.

Duluth (15-15) plays Mankato (19-12) in a two-game series starting on Wednesday. The MoonDogs are in second in the Great Plains West.

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