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Mallards beat rain, Woodchucks in impressive fashion to end nine-game losing streak

Madison, WI – July 29, 2008. The longest losing streak in franchise history ended in grand fashion Tuesday night in front of 7,261 fans at the “Duck Pond,” when the Mallards blasted the Wisconsin Woodchucks 18-7 to end a nine-game losing streak. The Mallards set a season and franchise high for runs scored and a season high for hits in the game, which was delayed for one hour-and-six minutes by rain in the bottom of the second. The rival Mallards and Woodchucks finish their regular-season meetings, with the home team winning each of the eight contests. Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) improves to 3-1 on the year with the win.

Seven Mallards had multiple-hit games to account for their 19 hits on the night, with Rob Lyerly’s (Charlotte) 4-for-4 performance leading the way. He had three doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs in the game. In six games against the Woodchucks this season Lyerly hit .433 (13-30) with six doubles and 10 RBIs. Eric Nielsen (Purdue) and Don Lambert (Baylor) had three hits apiece and drove in four and three runs respectively. Wisconsin got a 3-for-5 outing by leadoff hitter Jeff Cowan.

The Woodchucks touched Mallards starter Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) for a first-inning run, thanks to a Matt Gantner two-out single up the middle that scored Cowan from second base. Gantner advanced to second base on the throw home by Lambert, but Rivers stranded him there when he got last night’s hero, Troy Frazier, to strike out looking to end the inning.

Wisconsin starter Dave Geiger made his first start of the season, and the Mallards welcomed him to Northwoods League baseball with two run on one hit in the bottom of the second to take the lead 2-1. With one out, Drew Martin (NC State) drew a walk and advanced to third when Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) reached on an error by the second baseman. Bobby Pritchett made a spectacular diving stop on the ball hit by the Mallards speedy shortstop, but he threw it away when he tried to make the play at first. The error came back to haunt the Woodchucks, as Lyerly followed with a single to right field, scoring Martin. The Mallards added one more in the frame to take a one-run advantage into the second.

The Mallards batted around in the bottom of the second, breaking through for seven runs on five hits and drove Geiger from the game. Five of the runs crossed the plate with two outs. Nielsen and Lambert started the inning with back-to-back singles and Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) followed with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Nielsen from third. Following a strikeout for the second out of the inning, the next eight Mallards reached off Geiger and relievers Andrew Longoria and Adam Jung.

With two outs in the bottom of the second the rain came, prompting the tarp to be rolled out and the game to be delayed. After a one hour-and-six minute rain delay, the Woodchucks came back and scored a run off Rivers in the top of the third to trim the Mallards lead to 9-2.

In the bottom half of the inning Madison scored a couple more runs, highlighted by Lyerly’s second double and third RBI of the night. Rivers gave up a one-out walk but escaped with no damage in the top of the fourth to keep the commanding Mallards lead at 11-2.

Three straight Mallards had hits to start the bottom of the fifth, including the third straight double and fourth hit of the game for Lyerly. Jonathan Ratledge (East Carolina) had the third hit, a single down the left field line that scored Lyerly to give the Mallards their 12th run of the game. Terrance Jackson greeted new Mallards hurler Kyle Rutter (NC State) with a one-out home run to left field. Rutter settled down and got two easy outs, and the Mallards headed into the bottom of the sixth with a 12-3 lead.

They would add four more on two hits in the inning, taking advantage of five free passes by Ben Briesacher. The fourth run of the inning was the 16th of the game for the Mallards, which is a new season high. The scoring continued in the last few frames, with the final score ending up at 18-7 in favor of the Mallards.

Madison now hits the road for two games against Eau Claire Wednesday and Thursday before returning to the “Duck Pond” to start a four-game homestand Friday against the Express. Friday is Covance “80s Night” at the ballpark! Come out for a chance to meet Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman! The first 1,000 fans will receive Mallards slinkies, courtesy of Covance.