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Published On: June 14th, 2009

Box Score

Madison, WI – June 13, 2009. Another great come-from-behind victory looked eminent for the Mallards after a game-tying 2-run seventh inning home run by Adam McClain (Memphis) sparked the offense, but the La Crosse pitching staff led to Madison’s first home loss of the season, falling to the Loggers by a score of 4-3 in front of 6,366 fans at the “Duck Pond” on Saturday night.

Madison starter Matt Morgan (Purdue) produced another quality start, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking just one over 6.1 innings of work. Tied at 3-3 in the top of the ninth inning, a lead off single by La Crosse’s Brandon Meredith (San Diego State) led to a run off of Mallard reliever J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) after a high-hopping ground ball by Robert Abel (San Francisco) allowed Meredith to come in for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run.

“Morgan gave us another great start,” Pitching Coach Jason Immekus said. “He threw a lot of strikes and kept his pitch count down.”

The Mallards (12-4) got on the board first after Mark Ginther (Oklahoma State) drove in Joe De Pinto (USC) on an RBI single in the first inning. De Pinto led off the frame with a double off the wall in left center to start things off. With runners on first and third and a chance to tack on more runs, Ben Long (UW-Milwaukee) grounded out to short to end the inning.

Morgan went through the first two innings without allowing a runner to reach base, but La Crosse (10-6) finally got the young right hander in the third when a lead off walk came back to haunt him. Lucas Kephart (Sacramento CC) induced the base on balls and Austin Knight (Dallas Baptist) drove him in with an RBI double to left to tie the game at 1-1. All three runs given up by Morgan resulted in innings where he allowed the lead off batter to reach base. In fact, all seven runs by both teams combined occurred in innings where they lead off batter reached.

The Loggers would take the lead in the fifth inning after a lead off double by Abel led to Morgan Mickan’s (Texas) sacrifice fly, making it a 2-1 ball game. They would add an insurance run in the seventh after Abel singled to start the frame and then stole second and third base before Boomer Collins’ (Nebraska) RBI single made it 3-1 La Crosse.

After two quick outs to start the Madison seventh, La Crosse starter Richard Erath got De Pinto to ground to the third baseman Chris Engell (San Diego), but he misplayed the short-hop allowing him to reach while prolonging the inning for McClain. The next pitch from Erath was a deep fly ball over the fence in left field. It was McClain’s second home run of the season and it tied the game at 3-3.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play again,” McClain said. “I got fooled a little, but I got good wood on it and it just carried out.”

In the ninth, it was Abel involved once more in a pivotal play that changed the game. After a wild pitch allowed him to advance to third, Meredith hit a high-chopper that Abel broke right away on to score the go-ahead run.

“J.R. got what he wanted on that play with a runner on third. Unfortunately, it was just too high to get the runner at home,” Immekus said.

In the Mallard half of the ninth, a walk to Tyson Blaser (Iowa) started the inning. The feeling of another Madison comeback was in the air until De Pinto’s line out to left. Left fielder Collins saw that Blaser was far enough off first to try and get and barely did get the ball there in time for a heart-breaking double play to end all hope of a 10th straight home win to start the year.

Logger starter Erath had a just as effective day on the mound, giving up three runs (1 earned) on six hits over seven innings. Troy Watson (Sacramento CC) relieved Erath to earn the win while Kyle Simon picked up the save.

The Mallards will send Matt Jansen (Purdue) and Joe Yermal (Charlotte) to the mound against Green Bay in the next two days. So far the three losses preceding today all occurred in the first game of a road series.

“We’re going to try and win in our first travel day this time,” McClain said.

They’ll take on Green Bay at 5:05 p.m. tomorrow and 7:05 p.m. on Monday before returning home for a two-game series with Waterloo at the “Duck Pond” on Tuesday and Wednesday.