The Madison Mallards were looking forward to a new start on Wednesday night at Warner Park as the second half of the season began. Instead, they were plagued by many problems that hurt them during their 13-19 first half.
They fell behind early in the game, as they had during the first half of the season many times. They received solid pitching, but were hurt by inconsistent hitting and too many errors on defense. They also tried to make a late rally, but fell short and dropped to 0-1 on the season by going down to the Wisconsin Woodchucks, 5-2.
Wisconsin jumped to an early lead in the first inning off Mallard starter Brady Endl. Second baseman Ryan Sullivan opened up the night with a double and came around to score on an RBI groundout by center fielder Evan Tierce to make it 1-0.
They added another run in the fifth on a leadoff home run by right fielder Josh Aranda, his first of the season, to put Wisconsin up 2-0.
Meanwhile, Woodchuck starter Paul Schappert was cruising. He allowed multiple baserunners in the second and third innings but concluded the fifth by retiring seven Mallards in a row.
Endl went six innings for the Mallards, giving up three hits and the two earned runs while walking two and striking out five in another quality start by the Madison pitching staff.
Wisconsin then opened the game up in the eighth off Mallard reliever Mike Smith. A combination of four hits, a walk and a hit batsman led to three Woodchuck runs and put the Mallards in a 5-0 hole. The Mallards fought back in the eighth off Schappert though.
Center fielder Madison Edwards led off with a base hit and came around to score on an RBI double by designated hitter Jaime Martinez to make it 5-1. Martinez stayed hot with two more hits in the game and eight in his last three games.
After right fielder Nick Cadena walked, Martinez then scored on an RBI single by Mike Settle to put the Mallards down three and bring the tying run up to the plate. That hit chased Schappert from the game. However, off Woodchuck reliever James Morris, Mallard catcher Matt Pagnozzi flew out to right field to end the frame.
Down 5-2 in the ninth, the Mallards threatened. Left fielder Erik Johnson started the threat with a one out single to right field. Then, after pinch hitter Charlie Babineaux struck out, second baseman Kyle Anson walked to put two on with two out.
Woodchuck manager Steve Foster then brought in his closer, Steve Grasley, to face the Mallards hottest hitter, Martinez. Grasley won the battle, inducing a weak groundout from Martinez to end the game.
Schappert picked up the win for the Woodchucks in his first start of the season to go to 1-0 on the season and Grasley earned his league leading 12th save. Endl took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the season.
The Mallards try to even up the series tomorrow night in manager Marc Rardin’s last game at the helm. Game time is set for 7:05pm.