This game story could start out with any classic intro from any great book. The game was that good. Unfortunately for the Madison Mallards, the Rochester Honkers eked out a 13-inning, 1-0 victory in one of the greatest pitching duels in Mallards history.
Madison starter Adam Mills (pictured below) had won two straight Sunday starts for the Mallards and was on top of his game, again, Sunday night. Mills faced the minimum through seven innings and pitched 10 innings in all. The 2005 All-Star allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out nine.
Rochester?s Matt Reynolds was equal to the task. In nine innings, the 2006 Northwoods League All-Star allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out three before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
Rochester threatened to score in the ninth against Mills. Dan Lyons led off and was hit by a pitch. On a pickoff attempt, Mills threw wide of first, allowing Lyons to advance to second. The next batter, Chris Jones, hit a sinking line drive to right that was slicing away from Spencer Steedley. The Mallards outfielder dove toward the line and made the catch. He then fired the ball to shortstop Gary Arndt, whose relay got to third in plenty of time to tag out Lyons as he tried to advance.
The Honkers threatened again in the 11th against reliever Jason Leaver. With two outs, catcher Bill Musselman hit a ball that appeared to be a home run to left. Madison?s Tommy Lentz, however, leaped over the fence and made the catch while falling headfirst over the wall to preserve the scoreless tie.
The Honkers finally broke through in the 13th against Madison reliever Mike Creevy. Matt Fahey singled and moved to second on a groundout by Jeff Engel. Jason White?s single to center drew a throw to the plate by Danny Dressman. The throw reached the plate at nearly the same time as the runner, Fahey, but catcher Kris Rochelle was unable to hang on to the ball, giving Rochester the 1-0 lead.
Madison threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the 13th against the Northwoods League?s saves leader, Jake Toohey. Designated hitter Bobby Hubbard led off with a triple to center field. Unfortunately, the Mallards were unable to produce a fly ball that would allow Hubbard to score. Randy Molina, Steedley and Ryan Bond all struck out to give the Honkers the 1-0 win.
Creevy was tagged with his first loss of the season (4-1). Zach Herr earned the win with three innings of scoreless relief and Toohey picked up his league-best 14th save.
Rochelle was one of the offensive stars of the game, if not the offensive star. The catcher went 3-4 in the game and was intentionally walked (pictured above left) once. Hubbard went 2-5.
With the loss, the Mallards are 5-2 in the second half, two games back of Rochester (7-0).
Tonight was Ducks Unlimited Night as well as Schoep?s Ice Cream Mini Batting Helmet Night. The Mallards were outfitted in camouflage uniforms, which were auctioned off to support Ducks Unlimited after the game, and the first 500 fans received duck calls courtesy of Ducks Unlimited. The first 1,000 fans 14 and under received a mini batting helmet courtesy of Schoep?s Ice Cream.
The Mallards and Honkers meet again Monday night at the Duck Pond. Casey Baron will start for Madison against Rochester?s Randy Wild in a game that starts at 7:05 p.m. Monday is State Farm Insurance Night at the Duck Pond. Also, the first 1,500 fans will receive a Mallards stocking cap courtesy of Signature Graphics. Every Monday at the Duck Pond is a Budweiser and 94.1 WJJO ?2-for-1 Monday.? Domestic taps, sodas and hot dogs are two-for-the-price-of-one through the fifth inning.
Great tickets are available for all remaining Mallards games. For tickets, stop by the ticket office, call 608.246.4277 or go online to www.mallardsbaseball.com.