Behind the awesome pitching of Amad Stephens and some timely hitting, the Madison Mallards led 4-0 after seven innings and it looked as if they were going to get their first home win of the season. However, they fell apart in the end and lost 5-4 to the Brainerd Mighty Gulls.
Leading 4-0, the Mallards gave up two runs in the eighth inning without the benefit of a hit. A combination of three walks, a hit batter and an error by shortstop Dominic Ramos led to those runs. However, the lead still seemed safe as the game entered the ninth inning.
Josh Hansen, who got the last out of the eighth inning, started the ninth by walking both right fielder Tim Gray, the number nine hitter, and center fielder Steve Adams. After a sacrifice bunt, left fielder Blake Denischuk hit a ball in the left-center field gap that just kept slicing away from Mallard center fielder Madison Edwards. The ball ended up going all the way to the wall, scoring both runs with Denischuk ending up on third base with a triple. Ironically, the score was tied at four although the Mighty Gulls had only two hits on the night, both by Denischuk.
With Denischuk on third, Matt Rebout laid down a suicide sacrifice bunt. Hansen fielded it cleanly and threw it home to catcher Cooper Fouts in plenty of time, but Fouts was hit square on by Denischuk and dropped the ball. There was some argument as to whether Denischuk ever touched home plate, but the play stood and the Mighty Gulls took a 5-4 lead.
The Mallards tried to fight back in the bottom of the ninth. Right fielder Nick Cadena led off the inning with a base hit and was sacrificed to second base. With one out, the turning point of the game occurred. Shortstop Dominic Ramos singled to left field, but Cadena was thrown out at the plate trying to tie the game. Predictably, second baseman Kyle Anson singled two pitches later, which would have scored Cadena. The game ended on a Madison Edwards groundout.
The Mallards somehow lost the game despite giving up only two hits in the entire game. They were hurt by 10 walks, including five in the last two innings, three errors and two hit batsman.
Madison also wasted a fabulous performance by starting pitcher Amad Stephens for the second straight game. The hard throwing right hander threw seven innings and gave up only a single hit, which was a bleeder to right field, walking five and striking out twelve. He also impressively came back from a 45 minute rain delay in the fourth inning and was just as effective when the game resumed.
The Mallards as a team played great baseball through seven innings. Besides Stephens, the hitting came up big as well. In the fourth inning, Matt Bose led off with a single and was driven in by a Mike Settle double. Settle then scored on a two out single by Nick Cadena to put the Mallards up 2-0.
Bose and Settle struck again in the sixth, as they hit back to back doubles and Bose scored to make it 3-0. The Mallards then scored their final run in the seventh as Brett Berglund singled and came around to score on a passed ball by Brainerd catcher John Purdom. The Mallards fell apart however after the seventh.
The crowd of 740 braved the rainy and cold conditions and enjoyed an excellent game until the final innings. With the loss, the Mallards fell to 2-5 overall, including 0-3 at home. The Mallards continue their homestand Friday night with a 7:05pm game against Brainerd. The game will be Madison Muskies turn back the clock night, with the first 500 fans in attendance receiving a mesh Muskies hat.