Chinooks Can’t Hold Early Lead as Mallards Walk Off in Madison
Madison, WI – A night that began with a four-run advantage for the Lakeshore Chinooks ended in the Madison Mallards celebrating their 11th consecutive victory thanks to a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday in Madison.
Eager to have another chance at ending the Mallards’ franchise-record win streak a night after being shut out at home, the Chinooks pounced early with four runs in the second inning, highlighted by a three-run opposite field blast off the bat of left fielder Cole Turney.
Madison, however, crept back into the game with two runs in the second and one in the fifth to trim the difference to one run. Starting pitcher Austin Jones hurled just two innings as the first pitcher in a “piggyback start”. Right-hander James Wright IV followed Jones and pitched into the fifth before lefty Kyle Huckaby entered the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, Huckaby found himself in a bases loaded, one out jam. A ground ball to first base created a chance at an inning-ending double play, but Lakeshore got only one out and the Mallards scored the tying and go-ahead runs once catcher Sebastian Holte-Mancera mishandled a throw to the plate.
Trailing 5-4, the Chinooks rallied in the eighth inning to tie the game on shortstop Jake Thompson’s sacrifice fly. But with the contest knotted at five entering the bottom of the ninth, the Mallards swiftly ended the game with back-to-back hits before an out was recorded.
“When you’re reeling a little bit like us, we’re trying to find a way to keep these guys locked in,” manager Travis Akre said. “When you lose a tight ballgame like that, it’s easy to roll over. We’ve got to try to find a way to lift them up a little bit.”
Relief pitcher Brandon Komar, who pitched a scoreless eighth, took the loss. The defeat was the Chinooks’ third straight, and it drops their record to 7-9. Madison sits atop the Northwoods League South Division with a 13-3 mark.
After getting ahead early, Lakeshore was unable to put together quality opportunities to extend its lead. Only once was the Chinooks’ side set down in order, but strikeouts often stifled any attempt at a rally. The Chinooks fanned 13 times in total.
“In this era of baseball, it’s all about hitting the ball in the air,” Akre said, referencing strikeouts as a byproduct. “But more importantly, when we get a four run lead, we’ve got to be able to lock that down and we didn’t do it.”
Lakeshore was again outhit by its opponent, this time 13-6. Madison’s knack for finding holes and making contact was exactly what the Chinooks lacked for much of the night. Although 11 of the Mallards’ 13 hits were singles, their lineup struck out just twice in 40 plate appearances. Putting the ball in play proved to be key to the comeback.
The Chinooks begin a five-game homestand on Thursday against the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders. Lakeshore split a two-game series against Fond du Lac earlier this week.
“This is our chance to sleep in our own beds at night and not have to travel on a bus and just show up at the ballpark,” Akre said. “This is our chance to get locked in and really compete and build some momentum.”
Right-hander Brendan McGuigan takes the ball on Thursday and puts his immaculate earned run average on the line in his third start of the season. In 13 innings pitched this year, McGuigan has surrendered just one unearned run while striking out 11.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.