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Mallards score season-high 15 runs, beat Alexandria 15-12

Alexandria, MN – July 10, 2008. In a matchup of All-Star pitchers it was the offense for both teams that stole the show, as the Mallards used an eight-run fifth inning to propel themselves to a 15-12 victory over the Alexandria Beetles. Gabriel Shaw (Louisville) and Matt Hill did not have their all-star stuff tonight, as Shaw was relieved after three innings of work and Hill was sent to the showers after giving up four runs in that eight-run Madison fifth. The win gives the Mallards the series sweep of the Beetles, and means that the Mallards will head back to Madison with a 5-5 record on the 10-game, 11-day road trip and a 2-4 second-half mark. The 15 runs tonight is a season high for the Mallards.

The leadoff and two-hole hitters for the Mallards were deadly table-setters tonight. Leadoff man Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) reached base in all six of his plate appearances tonight, recording three singles and three walks. He scored five of the team’s 15 runs on the night. Number two batter Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) was nearly as good, reaching base in his final five plate appearances with four singles and a walk. He scored three more in the contest. Phil Gosselin (Virginia) and Rob Lyerly (Charlotte) each drove in a pair of runs. Five Beetles had multiple-hit nights, with Brian Harrison leading the way with a 3-for-6 performance with two runs scored and two driven in. Tyler Moyneur was 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs.

After a three-run eighth inning keyed a Mallards come-from-behind victory last night, the offense carried over the scoring to tonight’s game off Hill. Wikoff led off the game with a single on a 1-0 pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Illinois teammate Bonadonna. Following a flyout, Gosselin singled to left to bring around Wikoff for the first run of the game. Designated hitter Scott Heitshusen (Kansas) drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two away, but Drew Martin (NC State) flew out to left to end the frame.

But just like last night the Beetles answered the Mallards first-inning run, scoring four off Shaw while sending eight to the plate in the first. Dan DeGeorge, Harrison and Moyneur all singled and scored as the Beetles plated three runs with two outs in the inning. They added another in the second and two more in the third to take a 7-2 lead into the fourth inning.

Hill retired the Mallards in the fourth with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout and Shaw was relieved by Brandon Johnson (Western Carolina) in the fourth, who put the Beetles down in order in the fourth for the first time in the game.

In the fifth it was the Mallards turn to put up a crooked number, sending 14 to the plate and scoring eight runs to take a 10-7 lead. Eric Nielsen (Purdue) started the inning with a single and Wikoff reached base for the third time when he drew a walk, giving the Mallards runners on first and second with nobody out. Bonadonna then laid down a bunt and beat the throw to first base to load the bases. Lyerly grounded the ball to first and Keith Castillo threw home to force out Nielsen for the first out of the inning.

Gosselin then reached on an error by Denny Duron at short that scored Wikoff for the first run of the eight-run inning. That error proved to be costly, as Gosselin eventually came around to score and the inning was extended. With two outs the Mallards still scored four runs and left the bases loaded, with two of the runs coming off Beetles reliever Austin Siwiec. Bonadonna and Lyerly both drew bases-loaded walks that scored runs number seven and eight of the inning to put the Mallards on top 10-7. The eight-run inning was the Mallards biggest offensive inning of the season.

Johnson headed back to the mound for the bottom of the fifth with a three run lead, but a two-run home run by D.J. Leonard brought the Beetles back within one run and made the score 10-9 after five. New Beetles hurler Greg Smith struck out the side in the Mallards sixth, and Alexandria got a run off left-hander Brant Combs (Missouri State) in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 10.

The Mallards bats were not done in the top of the seventh. Nielsen reached on an error and Wikoff reached base for the fifth time with a single, before Bonadonna followed with a single to load the bases with one out. Lyerly drew the Mallards third bases-loaded walk of the night to score Nielsen to put Madison back on top of this back-and-forth slugfest 11-10. Don Lambert (Baylor), who replaced Heitshusen at designated hitter, had the big hit of the inning when he singled, scoring Wikoff and Bonadonna. The Mallards led 13-10 after Lambert’s knock, and following a groundout by Martin took the three run lead into the bottom of the seventh.

Combs worked around a pair of two-out baserunners in the seventh to escape with no damage. In the eighth he was relieved by Nathan Kafka (Minnesota State), who loaded the bases with two outs. The submariner walked in a run, the Beetles’ 11th of the night, but got pinch hitter Tim Roberson to strike out looking to keep the score at 13-11 going into the ninth.

The Mallards offense realized that no lead is safe tonight and they put two more runs on the board in the top of the ninth for a 15-11 lead. Wikoff walked to start things off, reaching base for the sixth time tonight. Bonadonna followed with a single, moving Wikoff to second. Wikoff and Bonadonna reached base back-to-back for the fifth time in six at bats for the pair tonight.

Andy Deain (Northern Illinois) relieved Kafka for the ninth inning, getting two quick outs before loading the bases. The right-hander got what looked like a game-ending groundout, but Bonadonna couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and a run scored. But Deain buckled down and struck out Leonard to end the slugfest. Combs earned his first win of the season while Smith took the loss for the Beetles, who dropped to 3-4 in the second half.

The Mallards head home tomorrow night for the first time since June 29, when they will square off with the Wisconsin Woodchucks at 7:05. It is “Leave it to Beaver Night” at the “Duck Pond.” Come out early for a chance to meet “the Beav,” Jerry Mathers!

The Mallards will be hosting the 2008 Northwoods League All-Star Game on July 13th and July 14th. The Homerun Derby, the Military All-Stars vs. Home Talent League All-Stars Game, and the All-Star Fan Fest will take place on the 13th, while the Northwoods League All-Star Game will take place at 7:05 pm on July 14th. Great seats are still available and can be purchased either online at mallardsbaseball.com or by calling the ticket office at (608) 246-4277.