For the second night in a row, the Madison Mallards rallied back with conviction. But this time the opposition just had too many runs when the rallying began.
The Mallards (11-15) fell to the Thunder Bay Border Cats (15-11) by a score of 6-4 at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Tonight, June 28, the problem was defense. The Mallards allowed four errors in eight innings, with two of the errors contributing to three runs.
The late Mallards scoring, however, gave the team and its fans reasons to be hopeful. Over the eighth and ninth innings the Mallards secured five hits and plated four runs while drawing one walk.
Yet, before any of these four runs, the Border Cats scored their six. Beginning in the first inning with one out, Marcus Jones hit a single. He then reached second by way of an error charged to first baseman Mike Rohde during a pickoff attempt initiated by Mallards starter Casey Baron. Jones advanced to third on a Ben Petsch single before being knocked in by a fielder?s choice play off the bat of Joey Lieberman.
Baron and the Mallards would hang tight until the fourth inning, when Baron yielded a 335-foot home run to Petsch, making the score 2-0, Thunder Bay. Baron would, however, set down the next three batters in order.
It was the next inning that proved to be the critical one. After Drew Martin singled in the top of the fifth, Eric Cannon reached on an error. A sacrifice bunt laid down by Oney Guillen, son of the White Sox manager, moved the runners to second and third. Martin then reached the plate by way of a Cody Allen sacrifice fly and Cannon went home on a single hit by Jones. The inning ended when, in a move by Baron and the Mallards infield that would have made Chris Capuano proud, Jones was picked off for the second time in the game.
Nonetheless, the fifth inning would be the last for Baron. He pitched for five innings, yielding three strikeouts, no walks, four runs and five hits.
Baron was replaced by Craig Meier. Meier struggled in the first of his two innings, surrendering two runs, two hits and one walk after retiring Petsch. But Meier locked in thereafter, getting out the last five batters he faced.
The Mallards collected five hits in the first seven innings and left five on base before finally cutting into the Border Cats? pitchers.
Following a seven-inning performance for the Cats, Kai Tuomi was replaced by Adam Dobies. After inducing Wayne Bond to ground out, Dobies gave up a single to Jordan Comadena. Gary Arndt (pictured below) followed with a full-count walk. After Randy Molina advanced the runners to second and third on a 3-1 groundout, Ryan Bond batted both runners in for his ninth and 10th RBI of the season. Mitch Saum, who hit his way on base in both the second and sixth innings and was left stranded in both, was unable to get Ryan Bond home as he struck out.
After Dobies was replaced on the mound by Tyler Cox, Joe Oliver, pinch hitting for Rohde to lead off the ninth, made his way to second with a double to the left field corner. After Jordan Wolf popped out to Thunder Bay right fielder Gabe Marchant, Oliver scored when Kris Rochelle hit a double to nearly the same spot in the left field corner as Oliver. Rochelle would also make his way home as Wayne Bond hit a single to score him. But that would be the end of the scoring for the Mallards.
After the Border Cats pitcher Cox was replaced by Kevin Dooley, Spencer Steedley came in to pinch hit for Comadena, but grounded out. Arndt then came to the plate, and connected on a ball that looked like it could leave Port Arthur Stadium, but it was caught on the warning track by Marchant.
The Mallards actually finished the game with more hits (10) than the Border Cats (seven).
Adam Tollefson, a recent Mallards acquisition, pitched a scoreless ninth for Madison.
The Mallards are now 0-2 while wearing hockey jerseys. In addition to the game tonight, in which both teams donned hockey jerseys as part of a hockey night promotion, the Mallards and Border Cats wore hockey jerseys on both teams? second game of the season, in Madison, for the Mallards? hockey night.
The Mallards, who have won three of their last five, return to the Duck Pond tomorrow night, Thursday, June 29 to take on the Brainerd Blue Thunder. It will be Pepsi Baseball Glove Night. The first 1,000 fans 14 and under will receive baseball gloves courtesy of Pepsi.
Great seats are still available for Thursday, Friday and Saturday?s games. Order yours today by visiting www.mallardsbaseball.com, calling 246.4277 or stopping by the Duck Pond.