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Mallards battle Waterloo, water to 9-6 victory

After and 1:40-minute rain delay, the Madison Mallards squared off with the Waterloo Bucks on the road and came away with a series split, winning 9-6 in dramatic fashion.

The win improves the Mallards overall record to 9-9 and puts them in a three-way tie for second place in the South Division along with Wisconsin and Eau Claire — La Crosse is right behind with an 8-9 record. The win didn’t bring Madison any closer to the highest spot, however, as Green Bay won its ninth consecutive game Monday, improving the Bullfrogs record to a league-best 13-5.

The Mallards advanced their leadoff batter in each of the first three innings against the Bucks, but could not make anything of it until the top of the third inning, when Chris Roberts laid down a bunt for a leadoff single. Eric Nielsen followed the bunt with a double, advancing Roberts to third. After Brandon Wikoff was retired for the first out, leaving the runners where they started, Bucks starting pitcher Brenden Stines hurled a wild pitch to Bobby Hubbard to cross Roberts and advance Nielsen to third. Nielsen later scored on Daniel Webb’s two-out single to end the inning with the Mallards ahead 2-0.

Waterloo surged back in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the lead in half after Scott Heitshusen put the leadoff batter, Scott Dunwoody, on with a hit-by-pitch. Dunwoody scored a fielder’s choice, leaving runners at the corners with only an out against them. Heitshusen got out of the jam during the next at-bat, as Chris Clark hit into a double play.

The Bucks took advantage of another hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning, which allowed the home team to take the lead momentarily. Travis Hendrix was the leadoff batter, who was plunked by Heitshusen. Hendrix rounded third for the game-tying run on Michael Giller’s RBI-single. The go-ahead run crossed on an error, letting Brent Milleville to score from second.

In the top of the sixth and seventh innings, Madison played its cards right to plate five-combined runners, as Jordan Comadena, Neil Medchill, Nielsen, Wikoff and Russell Harben all crossed home to give the Mallards a 7-3 lead.

All the dramatics surfaced in the bottom half of the eighth, as the Bucks rounded three runners to cut the deficit to a single run, but the Mallards provided two runs of insurance in the ninth to close the scoring at 9-6.

Heitshusen (2-1) took the win, as Bucks reliever Josh Smith (0-1) received the defeat. Bubba O’Donnell (pictured) stepped in the bottom of the ninth to shut down Waterloo and pick up his fourth save of the season.

Seven different Mallards recorded a basehit in the soggy evening game, including Nielsen’s and Roberts’ two-hit performances. Comadena and Medchill each scored twice to make their cases for the offensive producer of the game.

Welcome the Mallards back home Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. We have a promotion for everyone! The first 1,000 kids 14 & under will receive a Spectrum Brands Ryan Spilborgh’s figurine, the first former Mallard to play in the big leagues! Also, the first 1,000 families will receive a Bucky Book with so many coupons it should be outlawed! And if that wasn’t enough, it’s Quench Gum Guaranteed Win Night. If the Mallards lose (not a chance), fans will receive free tickets to a future game!

Great seats are available for all games and can be purchased and printed online at mallardsbaseball.com or by calling 246.4277. We’ll see you at the Duck Pond!