The Madison Mallards broke out in a big way Friday night, defeating the Brainerd Blue Thunder by a score of 6-2 at the Duck Pond. The win was the Mallards? second straight victory and third in their last four games. Their season record now stands at 13-15.
It was Brainerd who got the scoring started right away in the first inning. Blue Thunder center fielder Andy Dirks led off the game with a double and advanced to third on an Aaron Suess fielder?s choice. Suess was also called safe on the play at first, putting runners at the corners with nobody out. Mallards pitcher Marc Lewis (pictured below) was able to get Blue Thunder third baseman Erik Huber to ground into a double play but Dirks was able to scamper home on the play. That would be all for the Blue Thunder, however, until the sixth inning.
The Mallards led off their half of the third inning with back-to-back singles from Ryan Bond and Spencer Steedley after he beat out a bunt (pictured top left). With runners on first and second, Randy Molina grounded into a fielder?s choice in which Brainerd was able to force out the lead runner Bond. With runners at first and second, Mallards third baseman Mitch Saum singled to load the bases and first baseman Mike Rohde followed with another single to score Steedley from third. The Mallards weren?t finished yet. Thanks to a Chris Rusler wild pitch, Molina was able to score the Mallards? second run of the inning and give them a lead they would not relinquish.
The Ducks would pick up again in the fourth. Jordan Comadena and Bobby Hubbard opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Ryan Bond followed with a single of his own to load the bases. The Blue Thunder then made a pitching change, brining in right hander James Sammut, but Mallards center fielder Spencer Steedley greeted him with another single, scoring both Comadena and Hubbard. Randy Molina then got in on the action with another single, bringing home Bond to make the score 5-1. The next batter, Mitch Saum would ground into a fielder?s choice, moving Steedley to third. Steedley would then score after Rohde reached on a fielder?s choice of his own to make the score 6-1.
In the top of the sixth inning, Brainerd would threaten once more. Dirks led off the inning with a walk. He advanced to third on a Suess double. Huber then popped out to Ryan Bond at second. However, Dirks made his way home when Erik Komatsu grounded out to shortstop Gary Arndt. That would end the scoring for the night, but that was fine with the Mallards.
Lewis went for six innings and earned the win, striking out two and walking only one, while giving up four hits and two earned runs. He was relieved by just-signed Allan Donato, who pitched two innings while surrendering one hit, walking none and striking out one.
Brett Scarpetta came in to close out the game for the Ducks. He induced a fly out from Komatsu before allowing Drew McDonald to single. Smith then lined out to first base. Despite there being only two outs, there would be no more official at-bats. The game ended when McDonald was caught off first base.
Brainerd?s starter Rusler lasted only three-plus innings, giving up eight hits, five runs (all earned), two walks and striking out just one. He had one wild pitch and hit one batter. Rusler was charged with the loss.
Tonight was Newcastle Beer Stein Night. The first 1,000 fans received a beer stein emblazoned with the Newcastle and Mallards logos, courtesy of Newcastle. It was also PODS Let?s Make a Deal Night. In addition to gameshow style promotions in which fans could trade belongings such as a business card or a photograph of a celebrity for a prize, fans picked one of two secure and sealed PODS trailers. During the middle innings, the trailers were brought on to the field and the contents were revealed. In one trailer was tuna fish, and in the other, a baseball-style beach ball. Fans received one of whatever was in the trailer they chose.
Tomorrow is the world-renowned Rhythm & Booms fireworks show, as well as the Meriter & PPIC Kick Ball Night. In addition to watching the fireworks, the first 1,000 fans 14 and under will receive free kick balls from Meriter & PPIC. After the game, ?Bad News Bears? will be shown in the outfield and all kids will have a chance to participate in a kick ball game on the field. The post-game fireworks are presented by Life Style Staffing.
Great seats are still available. Order your tickets now by visiting www.mallardsbaseball.com, calling 608.246.4277 or stopping by the Duck Pond. Please be aware of the Mallards Carry-In Policies, outlined on the Web site.