WATERLOO – Kyle Yates blasted two home runs and drove in five as the Madison Mallards beat the Waterloo Bucks, 9-3, in the Northwoods League Wednesday.
Pressed into service at designated hitter because the Mallards have only eight position players, Yates, a right-handed pitcher headed to Texas on a scholarship, hit a three-run shot in the second and two-run blast in the fifth as Madison built an 8-0 lead.
“The ball sounds different when it comes off his bat,” said Mallards’ manager Darrell Handelsman. “He has unreal power. If we weren’t short nine players, he would’ve been our opening day starter Tuesday.
“Kyle is a competitive kid. He reminds me a lot of Frank Kunich, but better.”
Northern Iowa pitcher Jake Hansen threw five shutout innings to earn the victory. The left-hander was perfect through 3 2/3 innings before college teammate Adam Boeve singled to left.
“This was Madison’s night from the first pitch to the last,” said Bucks manager Andy Haines. “Jake Hansen was good to say the least.”
Madison won despite striking out 15 times.
In the second inning, losing pitcher Eric Ebers walked the first two batters and Yates blasted the first pitch he saw over the Wells Fargo sign in left field.
Ebers had an up-and-down night, allowing six runs, four of which were earned. He gave up just four hits, but walked five and struck out six.
“I’m sure Eric is disappointed with how he pitched,” said Haines. “I had the opportunity to watch him pitch this season, and that won’t be a typical start for Eric.”
The Mallards increased their led to 6-0 in the third, getting help with two Bucks errors.
Doug Beck tripled to score Mike Rozama, and Mike Rohde had an RBI single. The third run was scored on a double steal.
Yates’ second home run came off Waterloo reliever Jared Allred, making it 8-0.
“We were a lot more relaxed tonight,” said Handelsman. “Last night, it was kind of crazy with everything that was going on. Our guys knew what was happening and probably put too much pressure on themselves.
“But we had some good at-bats tonight, and we’ve played defensively really well. We’ve had only one error in two games, and that was a dropped fly ball.”
All of Waterloo’s runs came in the seventh. Daniel Tackett singled to score Sean LaCoste, before Drew Harris scored on an error. Tackett eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Ducks’ eight-game road trip continues tonight at 7:05 against the Rochester Honkers.