The Madison Mallards put up a valiant comeback effort Saturday night but came up just a bit short, falling for the first time in the second half to the Eau Claire Express 9-5. The loss drops the Mallards to 1-1 on the season.
The Mallards got the scoring started right away in the bottom of the first. Jordan Comadena opened with a walk but was out at second one batter later on a Bobby Hubbard fielder?s choice. The next batter, Spencer Steedley, popped up to second but with two outs Hubbard was able to steal second and scored on a Randy Molina double to left. That gave the Mallards a quick 1-0 lead but it would be short lived.
The Express plated three in the top half of the second. The inning started out innocently enough with right fielder Matt Foote grounding out to Mallards third baseman Mitch Saum. The next batter, A.J. Pinocchio, singled and Casey Garms then walked, putting runners on first and second with only one out. Express catcher Doug Coe came up and delivered a double, scoring both Pinocchio and Garms. Still with only one away, shortstop Mike LaLuna came to the plate and knocked in a run with a double of his own, giving the Express a 3-1 lead. Next up was Brian Frou, who singled and advanced LaLuna to third, but thereafter, the Express would go quietly until the next inning.
Express center fielder Kraig Binick led off the inning with a single but Mallards starter Marc Lewis was then able to get Foote to pop out. With one out and a man on first, Lewis proceeded to hit Pinocchio with a pitch, putting runners at first and second. A double-steal later, Garms flew out to right field, scoring Binick from third and giving the Express a 4-1.
Eau Claire was far from done, however, putting up a two spot in the fourth and three more in the fifth giving the Express a commanding 9-1 lead.
The Ducks weren?t done flying yet, putting up a run in the sixth and one in the eighth. With the score 9-3, the Mallards entered the ninth looking to make some noise. Mitch Saum and Gary Arndt led off the inning with back-to-back walks. After Joe Oliver popped out to shallow right field, Jordan Wolf, who replaced Hubbard in the eighth inning, picked up a single to load the bases. Wayne Bond reached on a fielder?s choice, scoring Saum and advancing Arndt to third, but forcing Wolf out at second. Now, with two outs, Kris Rochelle singled, bringing in Arndt and making the score 9-5. Unfortunately, that would be all the Ducks would muster on this night, making way for Eau Claire?s first win of the second half.
Not all was lost, however, as the Mallards set a new season high for single-game attendance. The Ducks drew 7,092 fans despite light rain and a 22-minute delay. The crowd also pushed the total season attendance past 100,000 to a league-leading mark of 102,384.
It was Interstate Battery Hat Night. The first 1,000 fans 18 and over received Mallards hats courtesy of Interstate Battery. It was also Alliant Energy Glow In The Dark Baseball Night. The first 1,000 fans 14 and under received glow in the dark baseballs courtesy of Alliant Energy. After the game, fans were further entertained by the Life Style Staffing fireworks show and the band INNATRANCE.
The weekend action isn?t over yet. A Great Dane Duck Blind Family Four Pack will be available Sunday, July 9 and Monday, July 10. Families can get four Duck Blind passes for 80 dollars. The Great Dane Duck Blind offers an all you can eat and drink menu. Family Four Packs can be purchased online at www.mallardsbaseball.com.
Good seats are still available. Order yours now by visiting www.mallardsbaseball.com or calling 608.246.4277.