With the Madison Mallards facing a winless home stand and a long road trip ahead, two pitchers came through in the clutch to give the Ducks a much needed 2-0 win over the Waterloo Bucks before a crowd of 1,406 at Warner Park on Thursday night.
Cody Hall started for the Mallards and was tremendous through five innings. He did not allow a hit while walking three and striking out four but had to leave the game with a sore biceps muscle. Hall induced 10 ground ball outs while throwing a mere 70 pitches.
The Mallards scored all of the runs they would need in the third, as designated hitter Charlie Babineaux led off with single and advanced to second on a base hit by shortstop Dominic Ramos. Catcher Cooper Fouts then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Bucks catcher Curtis Thigpen attempted to force Babineaux at third. Luckily for the Mallards, the throw was errant and went into left field, scoring Babineaux to give the Mallards a 1-0 lead.
Waterloo escaped further damage in the inning when left fielder Erik Johnson flew out to Buck right fielder Adam Boeve and he threw out Ramos trying to score.
With the Mallards leading 1-0 in the sixth, Mike Schaefer came in and took over right where Hall left off. The Mallards as a team took a no hitter into the eighth with the help of spectacular defense, but with two out in the inning, second baseman Shaun Thomson bunted and Schaefer slipped fielding it, allowing the first hit of the night.
The Mallards scored an insurance run in the eighth as center fielder Madison Edwards led off with a double, was sacrificed to third by third baseman Matt Bose and scored on an RBI single by second baseman Mike Settle.
Schaefer walked Boeve to lead off the ninth and memories of the terrible home stand emerged. But Schaefer came back to retire the heart of the Waterloo lineup in order to preserve the victory. He ended the masterpiece by striking out designated hitter Michael Heldoorn and giving a big fist pump to the crowd.
Hall improved to 3-4 with the victory. The status of his injury was not known immediately after the game. Schaefer picked up his first save of the season, allowing just the bunt hit and one walk while striking out three. Danny Muegge was tough luck loser for the Bucks, allowing just one earned run on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings.
The Mallards (4-10 in second half, 17-29 overall) will try to build on the momentum on Friday, as they start a six game road trip, starting in Waterloo. Game time is set for 7:05pm.