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The Mallards head back on the road for the final leg of the first half after concluding a weekend homestand that ended in dramatic fashion Sunday.

Mitch Saum’s walk-off double in the ninth inning on Sunday gave the Mallards a 10-9 victory over La Crosse, and now, the Mallards must contend with eight straight days away from the Duck Pond with the first stop in Waterloo.

At 14-16 the Mallards face a 12-18 Waterloo team that defeated Rochester on Sunday in extra innings with a highly unlikely squeeze bunt to win 6-5. Left-handed pitcher Tom Stilson will make his first start of the 2007 season for the Mallards.

This season Stilson is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 5.0 innings pitched. In 2006, Stilson made four starts for Madison, going 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA. Stilson’s counterpart will be Waterloo’s Josh Rikards who enters Monday at 2-2 and a 4.60 ERA. The left-hander from Marist is second on the Bucks pitching staff with 30 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched.

It has been an exciting season series between Madison and Waterloo, as both squads have won two games apiece after four meetings. Margins of victory have averaged no more than three runs from all four games and Mallards fans should be happy to know that Waterloo is winless in Monday scheduled games this season.

Against Madison this season, Waterloo is batting an incredible .291. Outfielder Michael Giller is 6-for-15 (.400) with four runs batted in and three stolen bases versus Mallards pitching.

Outfielder Nick Santos is also having success against Madison hitting 6-for-17 (.353) with four runs batted in and two runs scored. Shortstop Travis Hendrix has been another offensive weapon while facing the Mallards, as he enters Monday having hit 5-for-17 (.295) with two doubles and two runs batted in.

Offensively, the big story for the Mallards has been the productivity of catcher Eric Nielsen. Nielsen is on a five-game hitting streak and has hit successfully in eight of his last nine games. In addition, Nielsen has had three multi-hit games during his five game hitting streak and five multi-hit games in his last nine.

More importantly, Nielsen is batting 5-for-11 (.455) with a double and a run batted in against Waterloo this season. Going back to June 11, Nielsen was batting .167. Since then, he has built his average up 166 points and is hitting .333 entering Monday.

Daniel Webb is currently hitting .299 with 10 runs batted in and leads the Mallards with six doubles. Evan LeBlanc is another Mallard batter that is hitting over the .300 mark at .324 with three runs batted in and seven runs scored. Jordan Comadena also enters Monday batting .286 against Waterloo with two stolen bases and three runs scored.

The Mallards will continue their road trip after the two game set against Waterloo with series against Thunder Bay, St. Cloud and Eau Claire before the All-Star Break begins on July 10.

In other Mallards news, infielder Mitch Saum was named Northwoods League Player of the Night for his performance against La Crosse on Sunday going 2-for-4 with one run scored and three runs batted in.

Saum was previously 1-for-8 until his breakout performance against the Loggers Sunday. Saum is the first Mallard to achieve the honor this season.

Published On: July 2nd, 2007