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Mallards look to break first-place deadlock tonight at Battle Creek

Madison, WI – July 2, 2008. After a series split with Mankato, the Mallards move on to face Battle Creek tonight in a 6:05 contest. Nobody could gain any ground in the South Division last night, as all three contenders for the first-half title were on the losing end of their games. The Mallards remain tied for first with Wisconsin with two games remaining in the half. La Crosse stands one game back of the pair. The Mallards send right-hander Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) to the mound tonight at Battle Creek to try to pitch the Mallards into sole possession of first.

Madison Mallards (20-11) at Battle Creek Bombers (10-22)
July 2, 2008 – 6:05 p.m. (CT)
C.O. Brown Stadium – Battle Creek, MI

Pitching Probables:
RHP Alex Rivers (MAD) – 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 1-0, 1.38 ERA
RHP Doug Murray (BC) – 2 GS, 16.2 IP, 1-0, 3.24 ERA

Mallards records:
– 2-0 vs. Battle Creek
– 10-8 at home
– 10-3 on road
– 12-6 vs. South Division
– 8-5 vs. North Division

Madison is…
– 14-3 when scoring first
– 3-3 in extra innings
– 7-2 in one-run games
– 15-1 when leading after 7 innings
– 12-1 when outhitting its opponent
– 13-0 when scoring 7+ runs
– 13-2 when making equal or fewer errors than opponent

Last time out for the Mallards: L 4-1 at Mankato, July 1
Junior lefty Brenden Lafferty threw eight solid innings and was helped by a three-run fifth inning by the MoonDogs as they defeated the Mallards 4-1 on Tuesday. Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) reached base three times with a walk and two singles, one being a beautiful bunt in the eighth inning. The Mallards saw a nice outing from newcomer Brant Combs (Missouri St.). The 6’3” lefty threw the final 3.1 innings, giving up only two hits and striking out three.

First half stretch run update:
Even with the loss Tuesday night at Mankato, the Mallards still find themselves tied with Wisconsin for first place in the South Division with just two games left in the first half, thanks to a Woodchucks loss at Brainerd. La Crosse remains one game back of Madison and Wisconsin, as they fell to Eau Claire. Wisconsin heads to Waterloo tonight and will play a doubleheader on Thursday to end the first half. La Crosse will finish up the first half with a pair of games at Brainerd.

Road Warriors:
The Mallards continue their 10-game, 11-day road trip, which is by far their longest of the season. The team finds themselves in Battle Creek for a pair of games before moving on to Wausau this weekend. After enjoying a day off on Sunday, June 6, they will go to Duluth and then Alexandria, before returning to Madison on Friday, July 11.

Mallards Musings:
-Luke Stewart (UAB) is tied for second in the Northwoods League with four home runs. His 13 extra-base hits rank him fourth in the league, and he stands sixth in the Northwoods League with 24 RBIs.
-After a 4-for-5 performance on Thursday against Brainerd, outfielder Aaron Bray (Charlotte) was named Northwoods League Player of the Night. He had four singles and scored three runs. Bray is the first Mallard to win the nightly award this season. Rob Lyerly (Charlotte) made it two Mallards award-winners in one week when he earned the honor on Monday after a 4-for-5 game at Mankato. He had a home run, a double, three RBIs and scored three runs in the contest.
-With a win on June 25 at Thunder Bay, Brandon Johnson (Western Carolina) moved into a tie for the second in the league in wins with four.
-Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) had a 10-game hitting streak snapped on June 28. It was the Mallards second-longest hitting streak of the season.
-Rob Lyerly’s (Charlotte) 12-game hitting streak dating back to June 11 ended with a 0-for-2 performance at Thunder Bay on June 24. He hit .380 with 11 runs scored and four doubles during the streak. It is the second-longest hitting streak in the Northwoods League this season.
-From the beginning of the season on May 29 until June 15 Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) reached base in 16 consecutive games.

Two Mallards win College World Series Championship:
Mallards Alan Ahmady and Trent Soares will arrive in Madison as College World Series Champions. The Fresno State Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 6-1 Wednesday night to win the College World Series two games to one. Ahmady had a remarkable postseason to conclude a breakout 2008 campaign, going 17-for-48 (.354) in Fresno State’s 13 postseason games. He drove in 12 runs and scored 10 more. In 2008 Ahmady hit .386 and drove in 92 runs, a total that was good for second in the NCAA. After losing game one to Georgia 7-6 on Monday night, the Bulldogs evened the series on Tuesday with a 19-10 win and then wrapped up the championship with a 6-1 victory on Wednesday night. It is Fresno State’s first baseball championship in school history.