Madison, WI – July 17, 2008. It was a different story at the “Duck Pond” Thursday night, as the Beetles and the Mallards combined for 16 runs and 28 hits one day after a 5-2 Beetles victory in which there were only 10 total hits. Madison salvaged a series split with the 11-5 victory on Thursday in which they had a season-high 16 hits. Every starter for both teams had at least one hit in the game. Kyle Heim (Iowa) earned the win with two innings of relief work, and Beetles All-Star Matt Hill took the loss after he struggled in one-third of an inning.
Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) returned to the lineup and went 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, and Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) also had three hits. He drove in two and scored two more. Rob Lyerly (Charlotte), Aaron Bray (Charlotte) and Luke Stewart (UAB) all had a pair of hits for the Mallards, who improved to 4-6 in the second half. The Beetles got two hits each from Tim Roberson, D.J. Leonard and Dan DeGeorge.
Alex Rivers (Santa Clara), making his second straight start against Alexandria, cruised through the first inning, striking out two and needing just eight pitches. After knocking out just four hits last night against the Beetles, the Mallards had three singles in the first inning off Beetles starter Andrew Robinson tonight. Wikoff led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a bunt single by Bonadonna. Thanks to a Beetles miscue Wikoff was able to score on a ground ball to second by Lyerly, who ended up reaching on the play on a fielder’s choice. Robinson got Phil Gosselin (Virginia) swinging for the second out but gave up a single to Josh Groves (UW-Milwaukee) that scored Lyerly for the second Mallards run of the inning.
Rivers allowed the first four Beetles to reach in the top of the second, with Brian Harrison and Bryan Holaday drawing walks and Roberson and Leonard singling, with Leonard’s driving in Harrison. DeGeorge followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Holaday to tie the game after one-and-a-half. Madison added another in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by Wikoff’s RBI single to left that scored Stewart from second.
In the third Alexandria countered with an RBI groundout by Harrison that scored Tim Dellwo to tie the game at three. Robinson had his first one-two-three inning in the bottom of the third, giving the offense the opportunity to take the lead with a run in the fourth. And that is exactly what the Beetles did, with Andy Cotton blasting a triple to the right-center wall that scored DeGeorge all the way from first. The Beetles led 4-3 after three-and-a-half and drove Rivers from the game with that fourth-inning run.
The Mallards tied the game in the home half of the fourth, when Bray singled to right, stole second and scored on a single by Trent Soares (Fresno State). Heim relieved Rivers in the fifth and allowed a walk and three singles but emerged from the inning unscathed.
The hit parade continued in the sixth, when Alexandria touched Heim for a run on three singles and took back the lead again 5-4. But the Mallards blasted through in the bottom of the sixth for four runs on two singles, a double and four walks to jump back on top to stay 8-5. The first three batters and four of the first five reached off new Beetles hurler Hill, who was then relieved by Ben Jenzen with one out in the sixth. All four runners came around to score and were charged to Hill, before Jenzen put out the fire and escaped the inning with no further damage.
Brant Combs (Missouri State) relieved Heim in the seventh and retired the Beetles in order for the first time since Rivers did it in the top of the first. The Mallards loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh on two walks and Bonadonna’s third hit of the night and ended up scoring three times in the inning to extend the lead to 11-5. Lyerly’s RBI single to right, the team’s 15th hit of the night, set a new season-high for the Mallards.
The last inning-and-a-half went by with little fanfare, and Kyle Rutter (NC State) took over for Combs in the ninth and faced four batters to finish the game. Up next for the Mallards is a visit from the Battle Creek Bombers, who come to town for two games starting Friday night. Madison is 4-0 against the Bombers this season.
The ZOOperstars make a triumphant return to the “Duck Pond” on Friday night! Come watch as Shark McGwire, Alex Frogriguez, Clammy Sosa, Harry Canary and more battle for your laughs! Saturday’s series finale will be Great Dane Summertime St. Patty’s Night at the ballpark. There will be green beer on tap, the Mallards will be wearing green uniforms and free green Mallards t-shirts will be given out to the first 1,000 fans. Come celebrate St. Patty’s Night in July with the Mallards on Saturday!