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Mallards Start Second Half Perfect

After two straight tough losses to the Rochester Honkers to close the first half of the Northwoods League (NWL) season, the Madison Mallards returned home to begin the second half of the season against the Eau Claire Express. Based on strong pitching and a daring, but successful, attempt to score, the Mallards beat the Express 2-0.

Making his first appearance for the Mallards at home, right-hander Eryk McConnell (pictured below) was terrific for Madison. McConnell threw 7.2 innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out four to improve his record to 3-1. Jason Leaver worked an inning in relief before Brett Scarpetta nailed down his team-best fifth save by retiring the last Eau Claire batter.

Madison scored its first run in the fifth inning. Ryan Bond led off with a single. The next batter, Jordan Wolf, drew a walk. Gary Arndt?s sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third for Jordan Comadena. Comadena lifted a ball down the first base line in foul territory. The Express? first baseman, Kevin James, made the catch but fell back into the tarp roll just behind first base. As James struggled to regain his balance, Bond took off for home. The throw got there slightly ahead of Bond, but catcher Nate McKeon was unable to control the throw, allowing Bond to score and give the Mallards a 1-0 lead.

The Mallards added a run in the seventh. Wolf hit a one-out single. After Arndt popped out, Comadena lined a double to the right-center field gap. Wolf scored but Comadena was thrown out trying to extend the hit to a triple. It was the last run of the game in the Mallards 2-0 win.

The Mallards are 1-0 in the second half of the NWL season (17-18 overall). Rochester won the first half with a 24-10 record and, thus, will be in the playoffs at the end of the season. The first half champ in each division (South and North) meets the second half champion for the right to move on to the NWL Championship Series. If Rochester wins the second half, too, the team with the best overall record (other than Rochester) would meet the Honkers in the Divisional playoffs.

The same two teams meet Saturday at 6:05 p.m. at Warner Park. It?s Interstate Batteries Hat Night. The first 1,000 fans 18 and older will receive a free hat. The first 1,000 fans 14 and under will get an Alliant Energy Glow in the Dark Baseball. Also, former Milwaukee Braves standout Andy Pafko will be at the Duck Pond signing autographs. Don?t forget about the postgame fireworks presented by Life Style Staffing. For tickets, stop by the Duck Pond ticket office, call 608.246.4277 or go online to www.mallardsbaseball.com.