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Mallards make it two straight with 6-3 win over Battle Creek

Madison, WI – July 18, 2008. A three-run seventh inning, highlighted by Luke Stewart’s (UAB) fifth home run of the season (pictured left), propelled the Mallards to a 6-3 win over the Battle Creek Bombers in front of 6,751 fans at the “Duck Pond” Friday night. The three-spot broke a tie game and gave the Mallards their second straight win and moved their record to 5-6 in the second half. Brant Combs (Missouri State) worked two innings of relief to earn the win, while Battle Creek’s Nick Hoover took the loss. Madison is now 5-0 against Battle Creek this season.

Brandon Wikoff (Illinois), Phil Gosselin (Virginia), Luke Stewart (UAB) and Eric Nielsen (Purdue) all had two hits for the Mallards, accounting for eight of their 10 on the night. Gosselin also scored two runs. Brian Cavazos had two hits for the Bombers, as did Mike Murphy.

Brandon Johnson (Western Carolina) started for the first time since June 3rd and had no trouble through the first three innings. He allowed a base runner in each of the first two frames, but neither advanced further than first base. In the third the right-hander set down Trevor Hairgrove, A.J. Shindler and Murphy in order on two flyouts and a strikeout.

After being retired in order in the bottom of the first the Mallards scored in the bottom of the second, when Gosselin singled and ended up coming home on a sacrifice fly by Drew Martin (NC State) two batters later. It looked as if they would add to the slim 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third after Nielsen and Wikoff singled, but Matt Larkins worked out of the jam nicely and the Mallards could not increase the lead.

In the fourth the Bombers got to Johnson, with Cavazos scoring from third on a play in which the runner on first base was caught in a run-down on a stolen base attempt but managed to prolong the play long enough for Cavazos to scamper home before the out was recorded. The fifth inning went by with little trouble for either team, and Travis High (NC State) relieved Johnson in the top of the sixth. Johnson was stellar in his first start in a month-and-a-half, working five innings and allowing just the one run on two base hits, both singles.

Battle Creek greeted High with two runs on three hits and a hit batter to take the lead for the first time tonight, 3-1, after five-and-a-half. In the bottom of the sixth Madison came right back and took advantage of two walks to score two runs to tie the game at three. Aaron Bray (Charlotte) and Martin drew back-to-back walks to start the inning, driving Larkins from the game, and both came around to score on singles by Nielsen and Joe Bonadonna (Illinois), respectively.

Combs entered the game in place of High in the seventh and got two quick outs before allowing back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with two away. But Combs induced a groundout to Wikoff at short to keep the game tied.

The bottom of the seventh saw the Mallards take the lead for good with three runs on two hits and a costly error off two Bombers pitchers. Nick Hoover began his second inning of work in place of Larkins and gave up a leadoff double to right-center by Gosselin, who advanced to third on a groundout by Bray. Martin followed with a flyout to right that was not deep enough to score Gosselin. Now with two away Jonathan Ratledge (East Carolina) pinch-hit for Trent Soares (Fresno State) and grounded a ball to third that was fielded cleanly by Garret Smith, but Hairgrove dropped the relay throw at first to allow the go-ahead run Gosselin to score to give the Mallards the 4-3 lead.

Stewart followed with a two-run moonshot home run over the right-centerfield wall that gave the game its final score of 6-3. Combs, pitching for the second straight night, walked a man in the eighth but it did not cost him. Reed Woytek (Baylor) pitched the ninth and allowed one hit to earn his fifth save of the season.

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Madison and Battle Creek conclude the series tomorrow night at 6:05 at the “Duck Pond.” Come to the ballpark and join us for Summertime St. Patty’s Night, presented by Great Dane. There will be green beer on tap, the Mallards will wear green uniforms and green Mallards shirts will be given out to the first 1,000 fans. There will also be live music from the Whisky Lash All-Stars and postgame fireworks presented by Lifestyle Staffing!

Great tickets still remain for tomorrow night’s game and can be purchased online at mallardsbaseball.com or by calling 608.246.4277. Come out to the ballpark for a night of family fun! What day will you experience Mallards baseball?