Unfortunately for the Madison Mallards, Matt Reynolds had some of his best stuff working Thursday night, July 6.
Reynolds shut down the Mallards as the Rochester Honkers (24-10, First Half South Division Champion) defeated Madison by a score of 3-2. With the loss, the 16-18 Mallards finish fourth in the Northwoods League South Division. The Mallards will try to turn it around tomorrow night as they begin the second half of the season against the Eau Claire Express.
In the bottom of the first inning, Rochester third baseman Jason White led off with a double off Mallards starter Jake Sullivan. Dan Lyons then flew out to Madison shortstop Gary Arndt, but not before White advanced to third base on a passed ball. The next batter, Jeff Engel hit a single to score White.
Adam Cross then went to bat for the Honkers. Cross put the ball in play, and looked to have grounded out as he hit the ball toward Mallards third baseman Mitch Saum. Saum fielded the ball cleanly and looked to have thrown Cross out at second by way of a throw to Madison second baseman Ryan Bond. But Cross was called safe on what was ruled a fielder?s choice as the umpire said neither of Bond?s feet was in place on the bag. The call, however, had no direct effect on the outcome of the game, as the next two batters grounded out, and struck out, respectively.
In the next inning, the Mallards went down in order, and the Honkers nearly followed suit. Sullivan notched three strikeouts against Rochester, including one called strikeout, in addition to hitting one batter.
In the top of the third inning, Madison rallied back. Catcher Kris Rochelle (pictured below) led off the inning with a single down the left field line. With left fielder Jordan Wolf (pictured above left)at bat, Rochelle moved to second base on a passed ball. Rochelle then made his way home on a double hit to left-center field by Wolf.
Wolf advanced to third as Wayne Bond grounded out to the shortstop, Dan Lyons. As Jordan Comadena, the Mallards designated hitter, reached base on a single, Wolf scored to give Madison a 2-1 lead.
Arndt then moved Comadena over to second on an unassisted groundout to Honkers first baseman Brett Featherston. However, the inning would end shortly thereafter when Spencer Steedley flew out to the left fielder, Engel.
The Honkers, though, would match the Mallards? third inning effort in the bottom of the inning. After Lyons singled, Engel also reached by beating out the throw on a drag bunt. It looked as if the Mallards might escape the inning with the lead when Sullivan struck out Featherston for the second out of the inning. But the next batter, Chris Jones, hit a single that found its way over Arndt?s head on a bad hop, allowing both Lyons and Engel to score.
After a walk and a single to load the bases, Sullivan pitched for a called strike three, on a full count, against Kevin Drever. It was the second time in the game, and the second time in two innings, that Sullivan struck Drever out looking.
Although Rochester would not score again for the rest of the game, neither would Madison.
Despite getting runners on base in four of the final six innings, Madison was never able to get more than one runner on at a time, and could not drive any in.
Sullivan pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs and six hits, while striking out six and walking only two. At one point, Sullivan had five strikeouts in two innings, spanning from the end of the first to partway through the third inning.
Adam Tollefson came in to relieve Sullivan, pitching a scoreless sixth and seventh while getting out, in order, the minimum six batters he faced. He began both innings with a strikeout. Brett Scarpetta pitched the eighth inning for the Mallards, and also set down the three batters he faced in one, two, three order.
Reynolds pitched into the ninth inning, recording one out before hitting Randy Molina with a pitch and being replaced by Northwoods League save leader Jake Toohey, who earned his 11th save of the season.
One of the positives for the Mallards was that they able to get on base and produce runs early in this game. Such was often not the case in the first half.
Tomorrow night against Eau Claire will be Opening Night # 2. Opening Night # 2 will feature a brass band, second-half poster schedules to the first 750 fans and the Mallards will be starting with a 0-0 record.
There are good seats, including Great Dane Duck Blind tickets, available for Opening Night # 2 this Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Mallards play 19 of their 34 second-half games at the Duck Pond. There are tickets available for every remaining Mallards home game. For more information please log onto www.mallardsbaseball.com or call 608.246.4277.
(Photos by John Maniaci.)