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Efferson twirls gem, Mallards fall 5-2

Madison, WI – July 16, 2008. Seven strong innings of three-hit baseball by Brandon Efferson paced the Alexandria Beetles to a 5-2 victory over the Madison Mallards in front of 6,363 fans at the “Duck Pond” Wednesday night. The Beetles took the lead and did not look back with a three-run sixth inning off Travis High (NC State). The defeat drops the Mallards to 3-6 in the second half.

The top third of the Mallards batting order accounted for three of the team’s four hits on the night. The Beetles received two hits by Tim Roberson, including a solo home run in the fourth. Dan DeGeorge was 1-for-4 with a run scored and another driven in.

Matt Jansen (Purdue) made his first start following an inning of work in the All-Star Game in which he struck out the side, and he retired the first two Beetles he faced on groundouts. He got Keith Castillo to strike out swinging for what would have been the third out, but Castillo ended up reaching on a dropped third strike. But the left-hander from Purdue fanned Brian Harrison to end the inning one batter later.

After Efferson got Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) to pop out to the catcher to start the bottom of the first Drew Martin (NC State) singled off of second base and advanced to second when Rob Lyerly (Charlotte) roped a ball to shortstop that was misplayed by Denny Duran, putting runners on first and second with one out. Phil Gosselin (Virginia) struck out swinging for the second out and Efferson walked the next two he faced, including Trent Soares (Fresno State) with the bases loaded to bring in Martin for the first run of the game. Efferson rebounded with a bases-loaded strikeout of Don Lambert (Baylor) to end the inning.

Jansen escaped the second unscathed after back-to-back walks to start the inning. He induced three straight flyouts to strand the pair of runners. Madison put another run on the board in the bottom of the second to take a 2-0 advantage after two. For the second straight inning the leadoff batter popped out to Bryan Holaday behind the plate, this time with Luke Stewart (UAB) popping the ball back to the screen where Holaday was waiting for it. Eric Nielsen (Purdue) followed with a walk, bringing up Bonadonna. Nielsen was running on the first pitch to the Mallards right-hander and Bonadonna executed a perfect hit-and-run, dumping the ball into right field and moving Nielsen to third on the play. Efferson then threw over to first base, catching Bonadonna off guard, but the speedster stayed in a run-down long enough for Nielsen to scamper home from third for the second Mallards run of the night.

Jansen allowed a two-out walk in the third but no runs, and the Mallards went down quietly in the home half of the third. The Beetles touched Jansen for their first run of the night in the top of the fourth, when Tim Roberson homered to right field with one out. Jansen got out of the inning with no further damage, but the Mallards lead was cut in half.

The bottom third of the Mallards lineup was retired in order in the fourth by Efferson and Jansen allowed a walk and had a batter reach on an error in the what would prove to be his last inning of work in the fifth, but again he escaped with no Beetles runs and the 2-1 lead still in place. The Mallards fifth saw Martin reach for the second time of the night and Lyerly for the third, but a strikeout by Gosselin and a groundout to first by Aaron Bray (Charlotte) stranded two.

High entered the game in the sixth and the Beetles touched him for three runs on four singles to take the lead 4-2 after five-and-a-half. Now pitching with the lead for the first time tonight, Efferson struck out the side in the sixth and the first two men he faced in the seventh. Alexandria added another in the seventh to finish the scoring for the night. Efferson was relieved in the eighth, and two relievers finished the game and allowed just one hit.

Efferson allowed just three hits and one earned run in his seven innings of work and whiffed 10 Mallards hitters. Jansen was effective in five innings of work in a no-decision, allowing just the solo home run to Roberson and striking out four.

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The two teams will wrap up the series tomorrow night at the “Duck Pond” at 7:05. There is a slew of promotions at the ballpark tomorrow, including the unprecedented opportunity to eat a beetle and get a free ticket to the Duck Blind! The first 750 fans 21 & over will also receive a Budweiser Pint Glass commemorating Dave the Beer Guy! The first 1,000 fans will also receive Glow-in-the-Dark Yo-Yo’s and T-Shirts, compliments of General Communications.