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Mallards overcome season-high 17 strikeouts by holding Border Cats to only three hits

Thunder Bay, Ont.-June 24, 2008. A Phil Gosselin (Virginia) triple to score Rob Lyerly (Charlotte) in the 10th inning ended a scoreless tie and Nathan Kafka (Minn. State) picked up his second save in a nail-biting 1-0 Mallards victory over the Thunder Bay Border Cats Tuesday night. In a game that featured a combined 25 strikeouts and only eight hits even with an extra frame, pitcher Matt Jansen (Purdue) set the tone early by scattering two hits over six innings before passing the ball to short-arm reliever Bryan Hamilton (Charlotte) who preserved the tie heading into the bottom of the 10th inning.

The battle above the border Part I was a good old fashioned case of great pitching overpowering two struggling offenses. Coming into the game Thunder Bay (.235) and Madison (.236) were ranked #11 & #10, respectively, in league team batting average but both teams were on the up-and-up coming off two-game sweeps the days prior.

Besides Gosselin’s two hits that included the game-winning triple in the 10th frame, Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) added two base knocks of his own and Aaron Bray (Charlotte) added a third-inning single to provide the Mallards only hits of the game. The Border Cats were held to three hits by different individuals.

After Jansen cruised through six innings, Hamilton, who looked the sharpest he’s been all year, provided three scoreless frames and twice left Border Cats in scoring position to end any threat.

The Cats shot themselves in the paw during the 8th inning when leadoff man Alex Kubal reached on an error by second baseman Gosselin, stole second base, and was picked off the bag a pitch later in trying to get a jump to third.

The Mallards top of the 10th didn’t have a promising beginning. Both Bray and Wikoff struck out in front of the white-hot Lyerly. But Lyerly, who was riding a 12-game hitting streak coming into the game, didn’t chase a pitch and used a patient approach to draw his third walk of the contest. Gosselin then calmly strolled to the plate and hit a rocket to the right field corner to plate Lyerly and give the team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Kafka was then called on to shut the door and did just that in only allowing a two-out hit to Kubal before getting first baseman Derek Wiley to ground out to slick-fielding Mallards third-baseman Drew Martin (N.C. State) to end the game.

Hamilton picked up his first win of the season and the team now rides a three-game winning streak heading into tomorrow’s 6:05 p.m. contest. Lyerly’s 12-game hitting streak was the Northwoods League’s second-longest this season, only behind St. Cloud’s Zac Richard (13).

Scott Heitshusen (Kansas) will take the mound Wednesday night with a 2-1 record and 3.86 ERA in 21 innings pitched.

The Mallards return home for four games beginning Thursday, June 26. Come witness a mascot soccer game presented by Quench Gum / MAYSA / Break Away Sports and put your money where your mouth is!

On Friday, we’re reliving the “Happy Days” with a special appearance by “Potsie” Anson Williams! Those wearing outfits like characters of the classic show will receive $ 5 off Duck Blind tickets and $ 1 general admission tickets! Plus, we’re trying to find the next “Fonz!” Bring your best impersonation of the famous cast member and you could win a fabulous prize!

Great seats are available for all games and can be purchased online at Mallardsbaseall.com or by calling the ticket office at 246.4277!