Madison Mallards (8-8, 24-26) Vs. Mankato MoonDogs (7-9, 24-26) at 7:05
Following a two game sweep of St. Cloud, the Mallards head out to Mankato to face the MoonDogs in a two-game non-division set. Madison is red hot as they have won seven of their last ten and since their 1-6 start in the second half they have reached the .500 plateau at 8-8.
Mankato fell to Alexandria on Tuesday 5-1, however the MoonDogs have won six of their last ten and sit three games back of Duluth in the north division. Both Mankato and Madison are 11-10 in the month of July but the Mallards had their way with Mankato in early June as they swept the MoonDogs in their only meeting that took place at the Duck Pond.
Madison dominated Mankato June 8 and 9, collecting 15 runs and allowed just two runs to the MoonDogs in the series. The Mallards enter Wednesday batting .303 as a team against Mankato and the pitching staff holds an ERA of 1.00.
Lefty Brendan Lafferty will take the mound for Mankato as he comes in 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA. The sophomore from UCLA has struck out 19 in 28.2 innings of work. In Lafferty’s last appearance he went six innings pitched and allowed four earned runs on nine hits in a 13-0 loss to Duluth. Latterty does have a ERA of 1.17 at home this season and has allowed only one home run in his four appearances in July.
Even though Madison pitching has dropped near the bottom in several categories in the Northwoods League one improvement especially with the most recent home stand was the production of the bullpen. In the two game sweep against St. Cloud, the Mallards used four different set-up and relief pitchers from the bullpen who combined to allow only one earned run.
Offensively for Mankato, catcher Jeffrey DeSmidt had early season success against the Mallards as he went 2-for-6 (.333) with two runs scored in the series against the Madison pitching staff. However the two runs scored by DeSmidt were the only two runs scored by Mankato in the entire series.
The MoonDogs Nate Hanson is second in the Northwoods League with a .358 batting average with three home runs and 19 runs batted in. Hanson has hit safely in four of his last five games going 6-for-21 (.286) during the span with two runs scored, an RBI and two of the four games were multi-hit performances.
There are not enough words to say about the bats from the Mallards as of late. The Mallards put up 21 runs on the board in just two games against St. Cloud. Two weeks ago the Mallards were second to last in batting in the Northwoods League, since then they have sky rocketed to the number five spot with a .260 team average.
In addition to his fine defensive play, infielder Brandon Wikoff is batting .750 (3-4) with a run batted in against the MoonDogs in ‘07.
Randy Molina continues to be the big hitting machine for the Mallards as he enters Wednesday sixth in the NWL with a .333 average, 22 runs batted in and two home runs. Molina is currently on seven-game hitting streak going 15-for-33 (.454) during that span with nine runs scored, three doubles, a home run and seven runs batted.
In addition he has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 ball games going 23-54 (.426) with 13 runs scored, four doubles, 2 home runs, and 14 driven in. There is no doubt Molina has been one of the keys to the Mallards second half turn-around, including outfielder Jordan Comadena who enters Wednesday hitting .301 and infielder Bobby Hubbard who leads Madison with 26 runs batted in.
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