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Morgan strikes out 10, Mallards win second straight

Box Score

Madison, WI – June 19, 2009. Matt Morgan (Purdue) impressed all 5,474 in attendance at the “Duck Pond” on Friday night by striking out a season-high 10 batters over six innings of work and propelling the Mallards to a 4-1 win over South Division rival, Wisconsin. Madison (16-6) gained momentum heading into their week-long road trip by winning its second game in a row.

Morgan (2-0) and the Mallards endured a one hour rain delay prior to the start of the game, but were unfazed.

“We were able to come out of the rain delay, keep focused and get the job done even though the conditions weren’t what we had hoped for going in,” Morgan said.

The right-hander led his squad to a much-needed win at home and his teammates followed suit by spotting him a run in the first inning. After Morgan struck out the side in the top half of the first, Kurtis Muller (Iowa) led off the bottom half of the inning with a single that led to the Mallards first run of the game. Adam McClain (Memphis) slugged an RBI double over the head of center fielder Chad Wright (Kentucky) to drive Muller in, making it 1-0 Mallards.

Wisconsin’s Mike Mutchesun (New Mexico JC) led off the second with a deep blast over the fence in left field for his first home run of the season and tied the game at 1 apiece. Morgan settled down after that, striking out a pair before ending the inning without further damage. Wisconsin starter Terrance Jackson (Oklahoma City) answered with two strikeouts of his own in retiring the side in order in the bottom of the second and a strikeout dual would ensue.

Morgan answered back in the third when he struck out the side for a second time. The Purdue sophomore had nine strikeouts through three innings.

“Since I was able to throw my curve for a strike early, they had to respect that,” Morgan said. “It forced them to chase pitches in the dirt and Tyson [Blaser] (Iowa) did a nice job of blocking those pitches.”

In the Mallards’ half of the third, McClain drew a one out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and then advanced to third base on Harold Riggins’ (NC State) ground out. Jackson’s third wild pitch of the game allowed McClain to scamper home for the go-ahead run making it 2-1 Mallards.

In the Woodchucks’ fifth, Morgan allowed a lead-off single to Carson Vitale (Creighton) to begin the fifth inning. He would then strike out Bobby Pritchett (Central Arkansas) for the second time before Wright sacrificed Vitale to second base with a bunt. He then got Joey Hainsfurther (Baylor) to fly out to left to end the inning.

“He struggled early, but battled through,” Pitching Coach Jason Immekus said.

Madison added two insurance runs in their half of the fifth, giving Morgan and the Mallard pitching staff all the support they needed. A fielding error on the shortstop, Hainsfurther, allowed Joe De Pinto (USC) to reach first to lead off the inning. The next batter, McClain, doubled for the second time in the game putting runners on second and third with no one out. Riggins’ base hit through the left side followed, scoring De Pinto. Mark Ginther then stepped in and lifted a fly ball to center sure to score McClain, but a late jump to home plate resulted in a double play.
Another error occurred when Channing hit a ground ball up the middle. Second baseman Kale Kiser (Nebraska) fielded it cleanly, but his throw to first was off the mark, enabling Riggins to score and prolonging a disastrous inning for the Woodchucks. A double by JR Graham (Santa Clara) followed that and Jackson’s night on the mound was over. His final line was four runs (2 earned) on seven hits while striking out eight over 4.2 innings.

The Wisconsin (7-14) sixth was the only inning Morgan failed to record a strikeout, but he did manage to retire the side in order thanks to a couple of key defensive plays by Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) and Blaser.

“After we got ahead by a couple, our bullpen did a nice job of getting out hitters and forcing contact early in counts,” Immekus said. “This team has showed a lot of maturity in bouncing back and getting a couple of tough wins after suffering two tough losses in a row.”

Mark Ginther (Oklahoma State) and Denny Clement (Texas A&M) shut down the Woodchucks the rest of the way, surrendering just three hits over three innings of work. Clement then earned his third save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.

The Mallards will send Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) to the hill to face Eau Claire (14-5) at 6:35 p.m. at Carson Park. It’ll be the right-hander’s first start of the season. The Express had their game at Battle Creek suspended in the ninth inning with the score tied at 2-2. The lead the Mallards in the South Division standings by one-hundredth of a percent setting up this two-game series to be dandy.