Madison, WI – June 30, 2009. It was a wild one at the “Duck Pond” on Tuesday night, another one full of errors and with plenty of offense. Unfortunately for the Mallards, it didn’t translate into a win as the Wisconsin Woodchucks gained a 9-6 victory before a crowd of 5,452.
Madison starter Joe Yermal (Charlotte) made his first start since June 16, when he was forced to leave early due to tendenitis in his throwing arm. The right-hander had a solid outing despite taking the loss and falling to 3-2 on the season. He breezed through the first inning, striking out a batter in the process.
He scattered five hits, only one being an extra base hit which came in the form of a Mike Marshall (Stanford) solo shot over the 94.1 JJO Rooftop deck in left field to lead off the second inning. Other than that, three of the five runs he allowed were unearned in large part to five defensive errors in the sixth inning.
“It was good to see Joe back out there strong again,” Pitching Coach Jason Immekus said. “The good news is he’s pain free. That’s a big plus for us.”
Kurtis Muller (Iowa) led off the third inning with a well-placed bunt single that third baseman Travis Whitmore (Pittsburgh) found hard to handle. The next batter, Harold Riggins (NC State), was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch and ripped a fastball down the left field line for a double, scoring Muller from first base to tie the game at 1-1.
Things looked promising heading into the sixth inning of a tight game, but the game got away from the Mallards in what turned out to be a miserable inning defensively.
“We had a little breakdown,” Immekus said of the five errors in the sixth inning. “We need to do a better job of eliminating the big inning which has hurt us lately.”
The Woodchucks (12-20) put up seven runs to break a 1-1 tie, five of those runs were unearned. Eight straight batters reached base to start the inning, four by way of Madison errors, and 11 batters came to the plate in all. Yermal was chased after the first four batters reached, but reliever Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) didn’t have much luck either. He did get Carson Vitale (Creighton) to ground into a double play to minimize the damage, but when it was all said and done, the Woodchucks had an 8-1 lead.
“Mistakes in the field hurt us a lot,” designated hitter Harold Riggins said. “If we cut the errors down it will more than likely change the outcome a little bit for us.”
Madison tried to mount a comeback in the seventh inning. The first five batters reached base capped off by Riggins’ third double of the night which drove in Muller and Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) from first and second to make the score 8-5. After a strikeout and a pitching change, reliever Cullen Sexton (Minnesota) threw 11 straight balls, putting runners on first and second and sending the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam McClain (Memphis). McClain worked the count to 3-0 before fouling off the first strike thrown by Sexton. He’d foul off one more before striking out on a Sexton fastball to end the inning.
“He really didnt throw me a whole lot of offspeed pitches. So I just sat on fastballs and made good contact,” Riggins said of his three doubles which gives him nine on the season.
In the top half of the eighth, the Woodchucks answered with a run by Joey Hainsfurther (Baylor) who reached with a lead-off single. A double down the right field line by Vitale drove him in to make it 9-5.
Madison added a run in their half of the inning thanks to a Sabourin RBI double that cut the deficit to 9-6 and impressively, brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning before Anthony Drobnick (Washington State) got Jimmy Parque (St. John’s) to pop out in foul territory to third base to end the game.
Wisconsin starter Bryce Shafer threw six solid innings in his second start of the year, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking only two to move his record to 3-0.
The Mallards (18-14) play at Green Bay tomorrow night and will send Cody Winiarski (MATC) to the hill for a 7:05 p.m. start at Joannes Stadium. Winiarski is 3-2 on the year with a 2.21 ERA and he’ll look to get Madison back on track and to their winning ways.