Published On: June 28th, 2009

Box Score

Madison, WI – June 27, 2009. The Mallards withstood a 7-run second inning by the Lunkers and came back to win 19-8 before a crowd of 6,112 at the “Duck Pond” on Saturday night. Madison (18-11) scored 15 unanswered runs and held the Lunkers scoreless in the final seven innings to earn the come-from-behind victory.

A lead-off single got things started for the Lunkers as Dennis O’Grady (Duke) reached base. T.J. Berge (Northern Colorado) then sacrificed him over and two batters later, with Mike Kvasnicka (Minnesota) at the plate, O’Grady scored on a wild pitch that just skipped away from Mallard catcher John Hicks (Virginia), giving Brainerd an early 1-0 lead.

The Mallards answered in the bottom half of the inning by batting around for four runs. After an RBI single by Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) tied things up at 1-1, Harold Riggins (NC State) stepped up and hammered an opposite field 3-run shot to right to put the Mallards on top, 4-1.

The Lunkers responded by batting around in the second and then some. Twelve batters came to the plate in all and seven runs crossed in what amounted to a short outing for Mallard starter Matt Jansen. With two on and two-out, Shon Roe (Loyola Marymount) grounded to the second baseman Mark Ginther who tried to apply the tag on Zack Stewart (Ohio Dominion) who was running from first to second. The ball popped out, everyone was safe, and a run scored making the score, 4-2 Mallards. Six more runs would score, five of them being unearned after the error by Ginther.

Jansen endured his worst outing of the year by allowing eight runs (3 earned) on seven hits while walking two over 1.2 innings pitched.

“He didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He knew it and we knew it,” Pitching Coach Jason Immekus said. “We thought at the time it would be best to get him out of there.”

J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) came in to relieve Jansen and got the final out of the inning despite giving up a slow-rolling single up the middle. He then went on to pitch three more scoreless innings while giving up only two hits and a walk.

“I can’t say enough about is effort,” Immekus said. “He set the tone by throwing a few zeros.”

The offense fed off of it as well. Down 8-4 in the third inning, the Mallards inched one closer when a grounder off the bat of Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) took a nasty hop over the head of Lunkers shortstop Roe and into left center field. Esch made it into second with a double and drove in Adam McClain (Memphis) from first to cut the deficit to 8-5.

In the fourth, Graham retired the Brainerd side in order. It was the first 1-2-3 inning for either side and it was capped off with a fabulous leaping snag of a line drive by Esch at third base.

“J.R. Graham and the way he stalled things was really important,” Ginther said of the turning point in the game.

The Madison bullpen of Graham, Jordan Hershiser (USC), Joe Yermal (Charlotte) and Cody Winiarski (MATC) combined to go 7.1 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits while striking out three and walking three.

Eight errors were committed in all, five by Brainerd and three by the Mallards. All three Mallard errors coming from Ginther. But despite the errors and the huge deficit early, they Mallards kept steady heads and slowly inched their way back into the game.

“I credit that to C.J. [Theileke],” Immekus said of the Madison manager. “He keeps the guys loose and talks to the guys about having competitive at-bats regardless of the score.”

Ginther tried his best to erase his fielding woes from early in the game with a stellar day at the plate, including a 2-run homer to right field in the sixth to cut the Lunker lead to 8-7. The Mallards would add more offense in the frame with a Riggins RBI ground rule double, a Hicks 2-run single, and a throwing error following an Esch line out that allowed Hicks to score from third, making it 11-8 Mallards.

The Lunkers threathened in the seventh after Hershiser allowed runners to reach first and third via a walk and an infield single. With two outs, O’Grady hit a slow grounder to short and De Pinto ended the inning with a nice running throw across his body to get the batter by a step.

Ginther then led off the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot, his second of the game and fifth of the season to stretch the Madison lead to 12-8.

“Usually I look to hit first pitch,” Ginther said. “I just reacted to it and it got out.”

The Mallards didn’t look back. They added seven more runs in the last of the eighth thanks to two Brainerd errors.

Ginther will take the mound tomorrow afternoon as the Mallards look for the series sweep against the Lunkers. He has yet to record a decision this season, but holds a 1.23 ERA in three appearances and one start for the Mallards. The right-hander will another in Brainerd’s Taylor Babich (Rhodes College). Babich is 2-1 this season with a 3.32 ERA in four starts for the Lunkers. Sunday’s first pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m. and will be followed by a viewing of the movie “Field of Dreams” prior to the Rhythm & Booms fireworks show that was rescheduled from Saturday.

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