Madison, WI – June 10, 2009. It was home sweet home for the Mallards who remained unbeaten at the “Duck Pond”, picking up their seventh straight victory in a 3-2 win over Duluth on Wednesday night. Joe Yermal (Charlotte) earned his third win of the year and Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) made two outstanding plays at third base, anchoring a defense that wowed a crowd of 5,232.
With the win, the Mallards join Eau Claire as the first teams to 10 wins and and are tied with the Express for first place in the Northwoods League South Division with identical 10-3 records. Yermal gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out five batters over six innings and walked none.
“Yermal’s best pitching is ahead of him,” Head Coach C.J. Thieleke said. “He’s got the prototypical body to be a front of the line starter in any rotation.” Yermal retired the side in order in the first inning, but ran into a little trouble in the second. Zac Elgie (Kansas) capitalized on a Jared Womack (Oklahoma State) leadoff single with an RBI grounder to third to break a scoreless tie. He reached base on an errant throw, but the run would have scored anyway.
In the bottom half of the second, the Mallards answered with a Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) single to right field which drove in Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana), who led off the inning with a walk.
“Patterson’s first game, first hit and first RBI out the way with his first swing of the bat,” Thieleke said. Patterson finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in his Mallard debut.
In the third inning, Madison took its first lead of the game with a Kurtis Muller (Iowa) 1-out solo home run to deep left field, giving the Mallards a 2-1 advantage. It was Muller’s first homer of the year as he finished the game 1-for-4.
In the Duluth half of the third with runners on second and third and two outs, Esch saved a pair of runs with a diving stop to his left to retire Doug Joyce (Florida International) to end the inning.
“Tonight wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but the defense was incredible throughout. Especially Esch at third,” Yermal said.
After a leadoff home run to right by Duluth’s Womack to tie the game, Esch came up to the plate and put the Mallards back in front for good with a double down the right field line to drive in Sabourin to give Madison a 3-2 lead. It was Esch’s first RBI of the year. Back in the field, Esch shined once more, snagging what may have been extra bases for Andy Burns (Kentucky) to end the seventh.
Matt Morgan (Purdue) and Denny Clement (Texas A&M) preserved the win for Yermal, throwing three innings of no-hit baseball. Clement picked up his first save of the year in his first appearance as a Mallard on the same day he landed in town and joined the team.
“His personality is a bulldog mentality,” Thieleke said. “He gets off the plane, comes in and pitches like that. It’s huge.”
Today, Mallard middle infielder Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) was drafted in the fifth round (161 overall) by the Houston Astros. The Mallards expect Wikoff to leave the team tomorrow in preparation for the start of his professional baseball career.
Cody Winiarski is slated to go against Duluth’s Jeff Rydman tomorrow night in the series finale with the Huskies. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the “Duck Pond”.