Madison, WI – August 8, 2008. The Mallards offense had a hard time getting going Friday night, as the Waterloo Bucks won 4-1 behind six-and-one-third strong innings by Garrett Nix in front of 6,670 fans at the “Duck Pond.” Nix did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and just three total, while striking out 10. Waterloo pitching fanned 16 Mallards on the night. The Bucks improve to 17-14 in the second half and remain 1.5 games behind the Wisconsin Woodchucks for the South Division lead. The Mallards fell to 11-21 in the half and 33-32 overall with the defeat.
Michael Giller had two hits for the Bucks, scored a run and drove in another. Will Campbell also had a pair of hits for Waterloo, who banged out nine against four Mallards pitchers. A quartet of Mallards had one hit apiece, and Eric Nielsen (Purdue) drove in the team’s lone run.
Waterloo held a 3-0 lead after three innings thanks to two first-inning runs off Brandon Johnson (Western Carolina), who beat the Bucks twice in relief earlier this season. Giller led off the game with a first-pitch single up the middle and advanced to second on a base-hit by Zach Jones. Giller then caught the Mallards defense napping and stole third base before the next pitch was thrown. He scored on a wild pitch for the game’s first run. The Bucks scored another run on a single to right field by Campbell.
Madison had a two-out baserunner in the bottom of the first but could not answer the Bucks early runs. In the top of the second Waterloo received another first-pitch hit to start the inning, this time a double to left field by Taylor Lang. Bryan Resnick then bunted the ball back to Johnson, who dove for the pop-up but could not come up with it. With runners on first and third, Chad Barnhill laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Resnick to second. Giller then skied the ball deep to center field, where Joe Bonadonna (Illinois) raced after it and made a diving catch to retire his Illinois teammate. However, the ball was hit deep enough for Lang to score from third base to put Waterloo ahead 3-0.
Nix retired the Mallards in order in both the second and the third innings, and allowed just one baserunner and no hits through three. The Mallards finally tallied their first hit of the night off the Bucks right-hander when Phil Gosselin (Virginia) singled through the left side with two outs in the fourth. But Nix got Luke Stewart (UAB) to strike out looking to end the inning with Gosselin on first and Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) on second to keep the 3-0 advantage intact.
The score remained the same through the middle innings and Nix continued to cruise and Johnson settled down to run through the Bucks lineup with ease. Johnson took the loss and fell to 4-4 on the year. He ended up working six innings, allowing six hits and three runs while striking out five.
The Mallards finally got to Nix in the seventh inning, when Stewart walked to lead things off and moved to second on a single to left by Trent Soares (Fresno State). Both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch, and Stewart trotted home on an RBI groundout to third by Nielsen. Nix was then relieved by James Jones, who moved over from first base. Jones got out of the inning with a foul out and a strikeout. He also pitched the eighth and gave up a hit.
Bob Lackovic entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and struck out two to earn his 12th save of the season. Nathan Kafka (Minnesota State) and Travis High (NC State) pitched the final one-and-one third for the Mallards without allowing a hit.
Saturday night at 6:05 is the final regular-season home game for the Mallards. It is Fan Appreciation Night at the “Duck Pond” presented by Quench Gum. There will be plenty of great giveaways all game long, as well as Mallards Baseball Cards for the first 1,000 fans to enter the gates! There will also be a postgame fireworks show, presented by Life Style Staffing.