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Mallards win in extra innings over Eau Claire

Mallards fans received an Opening Day treat, as Jordan Comadena scored the game-winning run, crossing home on an extra-inning wild pitch to put Madison on top of the Eau Claire Express 2-1 in a defensive battle.

In a two-error 10th inning for the Express, the Mallards were able to load the bases following Comadena’s leadoff single to right field. With the bases juiced, Express reliever Ryan Escarcega threw one in the dirt to Travis Sweet, ending the game with Comadena running 90 feet to home.

Both of Madison’s runs occurred in the late innings, as Mitch Saum sent a shallow fly ball to right field to score pinch runner Michael Hubbard to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs on the scoreboard. Hubbard pinch ran for Bobby Hubbard, who doubled to right field earlier in the inning.

Despite the Mallards needing their bats to secure a win, starting pitcher Nick Kirk’s three-hit, 10-strikeout, shutout performance kept the Mallards alive throughout his six full innings on the mound.

Kirk started the game on a tear, retiring the side in order and striking out two to set the pace for the night. He followed up his first-frame performance with four two-strikeout innings.

The Mallards were robbed out of an early lead, thanks to a couple of quality defensive plays coming from the Express, as Comadena was caught stealing third, and Chris Roberts was tagged after a throw from right field. Express starting pitcher Wes Simmons was another factor in keeping the Mallards scoreless. He finished his seven innings of work, allowing only six hits and no runs.

The pressure of a scoreless game boiled over in the top of the eighth, as Joe Bonfe lead off with a double. Mike LaLuna attempted to score Bonfe in the next at-bat, but Adam Pasono’s cannon from left field to home came in time for Eric Nielsen to tag the go-ahead runner. The next play was almost a mirror image, but Nielsen couldn’t handle the hop, scoring LaLuna. With Dan Sorce struggling from the mound for the Mallards, Jim Sajewich came in to strike out the final two outs of the inning, keeping the Mallards within one.

Saum’s RBI-double in the bottom of the ninth kept Madison alive, setting up an exciting 10th inning finish to the first game of the year.

Scott Heitshusen earned the win, coming in at the start of the 10th frame. He kept the Express hitless during his time on the mound.

Comadena and Justin Bristow were the offensive producers for the Mallards, going 3-for-5 and 2-for-4 from the plate, respectively.

Madison and Eau Claire will square off again Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the “Duck Pond.” Great seats are still available and can be purchased online at www.mallardsbaseball.com or by calling 608.246.4277. Come celebrate Beetlemania Night, as the Mallards will be giving away mini bats, magnet schedules, Budweiser pint glasses and Beetlemania t-shirts.