The Madison Mallards are glad to be home after returning from Alexandria and Waterloo with just one win in four games, but at least they made the games interesting, both on and off the field.
After being shut out on Friday night 1-0 in 12 innings against the Wisconsin Woodchucks at Warner Park, the Mallards continued their offensive struggles on the trip. On Saturday, Madison wasted a great combined pitching performance by Brady Endl and Michael Koehler and lost 2-1 to the Alexandria Beetles. Endl pitched five innings but ended up taking the loss to fall to 2-5 on the season. The Mallards as a team combined for only three hits, including two by center fielder Madison Edwards.
The Mallards bounced back on Sunday to win 3-1 and earn a split with the Beetles. Starting pitcher Bill Bernabei was masterful in improving his record to 2-2 on the season. Bernabei, who was making just his second start of the season, gave up just one run on six hits while striking out five in his first complete game of the season and fourth overall for the Mallards. He was also named Northwoods League player of the night.
The offense came through as well in support of Bernabei. Catcher Lucas Koenig drove in two runs and first baseman Mike Lorenzo came through with his first hit with the Mallards, an RBI double that gave the Mallards the lead for good.
However, the Mallards then traveled to Waterloo for a pair of games with the Bucks and really struggled in all facets of both games in getting swept. On Monday, the Mallards were shut out 6-0 on a five hit complete game by Waterloo pitcher Danny Muegge. Mike Johnston gave up four earned runs in five innings to take the loss and fall to 2-3 on the season. The Mallards defense also came apart, as it committed four errors.
Then last night in Waterloo, a 9-0 Madison loss, the game was overshadowed by events off the field. In the fourth inning, with the Mallards trailing 5-0, home plate umpire Ryan Pighetti stopped the game and ordered the entire Mallards dugout to go back into the clubhouse for arguing calls. Manager Drew Topham was obviously upset and pitcher Amad Stephens was ejected in the fracas. It appeared that many close calls went against the Mallards throughout the contest and the entire two game series in Waterloo.
The game itself was not much prettier, as the Mallards could only tally two hits as a team and committed four errors. Mike Springsteen took the loss to fall to 0-1 as he gave up four earned runs in five innings. One lighter moment of the evening was the pitching of third baseman Mike Settle, who pitched two scoreless innings in a mopup role.
In the last five games, the Mallards have only scored four runs in their last 48 innings, including not scoring any runs in their last 20 innings. After the 1-3 trip, the Mallards have officially been eliminated from the playoffs as they stand at 7-18 in the second half and 20-37 overall.
The Mallards will try to improve on their offense and their overall record tonight as they play host to the Wisconsin Woodchucks with Phillip Martinez expected to take the mound in his last start of the season.