Not even in Hollywood could they write a script this ideal for Marc Rardin in his final game as manager of the Madison Mallards.
Nearly perfect in every facet of the game, the Mallards evened their record at 1-1 in the second half with a beautiful 5-0 shutout of the Wisconsin Woodchucks before the largest crowd in Mallard history at 3,404. Besides Rardin and the fans, the star of the game was without a doubt starting pitcher Mike Johnston.
Johnston, making just his third start of the season, threw a complete game, three hit shutout. He struck out six, walked three and threw 132 pitches in his masterpiece to improve to 2-1 on the season.
The Mallards scored all the runs they would need early on in the contest off Woodchuck starter Adam Rowe (5-2), who came into the night leading the Northwood’s League with five wins. In the second inning, Madison went ahead by a score of 1-0 as second baseman Kyle Anson walked and scored on an RBI double by third baseman Mike Settle.
The Mallards then broke the game wide open in the fifth. Right fielder Nick Cadena reached on an error to open the inning and moved to second on a single by catcher Cooper Fouts. Center fielder Erik Johnson then doubled into the right center field gap, scoring Cadena to put the Mallards up 2-0.
After a Dominic Ramos groundout, designated hitter Matt Bose then came up with the big hit of the night. Bose ripped a shot to center field, scoring Fouts and Johnson and giving the Mallards a 4-0.
Then in the eighth, first baseman Jaime Martinez led off with a double and scored on an RBI single by Anson to give the Mallards their final 5-0 tally. With the double, Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games, tying for the longest in Mallards history.
Much of the electric crowd was still around in the ninth as Johnston fired his final pitch, a flyout by Woodchuck Joshua Aranda to left fielder Charlie Babineaux. The crowd roared in approval in a perfect way to send out Rardin, who finished his career with the Mallards at 43-55 in his 1 1/2 seasons at the helm.
The Mallards start a new era on Friday as they embark on a four game road trip with assistant manager Drew Topham taking over the reins. Madison will play two in Brainerd and two more in Mankato before returning home on Tuesday for the All-Star game held at Warner Park.