The Madison Mallards will have to wait at least one more night to clinch the NWL?s final playoff spot in the South Division. After fighting back to tie the game at five in the eighth, the Ducks eventually dropped a 6-5 decision to the La Crosse Loggers on Thursday night, after catcher Kris Rochelle?s attempt to cut down a man stealing flew in to left field, allowing the winning run to score. The loss dropped the Mallards lead over the Loggers to two but the Ducks magic number still stands at two as well.
The Loggers, who had lost their previous two games after holding late leads, nearly coughed up another to the Mallards on Thursday. La Crosse got the scoring started in the third when Andy Podmolik homered to give the Loggers an early 1-0 advantage. Podmolik?s homer was just one of three long-balls hit by the Loggers in the game.
Travis Check provided the second home run in the fourth with his first of two dingers on the night. That made the score 2-0.
The Mallards got a run back in their half of the fifth, however. With one out, Bobby Hubbard doubled and advanced to third on Gary Arndt?s groundout to second. Danny Dressman followed with a two-out single to make the score 2-1 in favor of La Crosse.
La Crosse would strike again, however, in the bottom of the sixth. Adam Fleener opened the frame with a single and scored on Ben Barrone?s double. Ross McCoy followed with a double of his own to plate Barrone and give the Loggers a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead.
Madison wouldn?t go away though. The Mallards stormed back with three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at four. With relief pitcher Bryan Ruff on to pitch for starter Jason Dominguez, Ryan Bond got the rally started with a single. After Mitch Saum flew out to center, Bobby Hubbard walked to put runners at first and second. Gary Arndt followed with a single to score Bond with both Hubbard (pictured below) and Arndt moving up 90 feet on the throw home. The next batter, Dressman, proceeded to fly out to shallow right but both Hubbard and Arndt would eventually score on Rochelle’s (top left) single to tie the game at four.
Check would break the deadlock in the eighth with his second home run of the night but Madison would answer right back with a run in the top of the ninth. Dressman and Rochelle both singled to open the frame and Dressman would eventually score on Randy Molina?s single to tie the game at five.
The Loggers would stave off elimination for at least one more night with a run in the ninth. With one out, Nick Romero doubled off Mallards reliever Allan Donato. Manager C.J. Thieleke then made the move to the bullpen bringing in everyday closer, Mike Creevy. Creevy intentionally walked the first man he faced, Fleener, but followed that with a strikeout of Barrone for the second out of the inning. That?s when the trouble started. With McCoy at the plate Creevy threw a pitch back to the screen allowing both Romero and Fleener to move up a base. That would have been the extent of the damage but Rochelle?s attempt to cut down Romero at third on the play sailed into left field allowing the winning run to trot home.
Mallards starter Adam Mills worked six innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits. He struck out six and walked just two before being relieved by Donato.
Regardless of the loss, the Mallards magic number still stands at two. The Ducks can wrap up their spot in the post-season with a win tomorrow night in La Crosse. If the Mallards are unable to win tomorrow night, a number of other scenarios would still clinch the Ducks their fourth straight playoff berth. The Mallards magic number would still be two so any combination of Mallards victories in their final series with Duluth, and Loggers losses in their final series with Wisconsin, equal or greater than two would secure the Mallards a spot in the playoffs.
If the Mallards do make the playoffs, game one will take place Monday, August 14, at the Duck Pond. The Ducks would take on the Rochester Honkers, the South Division?s first-half champion. The Northwoods League first-round playoff series follows a one-two format meaning game one would be at the Duck Pond with games two and three taking place in Rochester.
The Mallards will offer a bus ride to game-two in Rochester on Tuesday, August 15, should the Ducks make the playoffs. For just 30 dollars, fans can receive a ride on the bus and a ticket to the game. The bus will depart Madison at approximately 2:30 p.m. and return following the conclusion of the game. The bus will return regardless of the outcome of the game.
Tickets for the Mallards first-round playoff game will go on sale Friday, August 11, at 9 a.m. The tickets will be on sale regardless of whether or not the Ducks have clinched their spot in the post-season. Ticket refunds will be offered if the Mallards do not qualify for post-season play. Be sure to stop by www.mallardsbaseball.com on Friday and order your tickets or call 246.4277 for more information.