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Sabourin’s three hits lead Mallards past Express

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All-Star Harold Riggins (NC State) broke out of a mini slump by recording three hits and two RBI to up his average to .331 on the year.

Box Score

Madison, WI – July 18, 2009. Matt Jansen (Purdue) provided the pitching and Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) led the offense to a series opening, 7-4, win over Eau Claire before a season-high crowd of 7,211 at the “Duck Pond” on Saturday night.

Jansen allowed two runs, none earned, and struck out four over 6.2 strong innings of work to earn his league-leading sixth victory of the year. He worked out of a huge bases loaded jam in the fifth inning to keep the game a scoreless tie.

“Matt really pitched out of the fifth,” Manager C.J. Thieleke said. “When he got [Kole] Calhoun to pop up, that was a huge at-bat.”

After Calhoun’s pop out to second base, he struck out Jason Ganek (UIC) on three straight pitches to end the inning and set up a big bottom of the fifth for the Mallard offense.

“I’ve been asking these guys to feed off of each other,” Thieleke said.

They listened to their skipper. Madison (28-21 overall, 9-6 second half) got four runs in the frame to break the shutout for Eau Claire starter Rudy Jaramillo (New Mexico). Sabourin provided the big blow with a huge 8-pitch at-bat before a two-run double to right drove in the first two runs of the game.

“I missed a lot of good fastballs,” Sabourin said of the at-bat. “I reached out and connected on a curveball and it worked out.”

“Sabourin just got into one of those at-bats,” Thieleke said. “You’re not always going to do it on the first three pitches and Jerrud hung in there and fouled off a bunch before getting the big hit.”

Sabourin finished the night 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored.

“Lately, I’ve been feeling like my swing hasn’t been that good,” Sabourin said. “So I tweaked it a little and went to a bigger bat and it really helped me.”

The Mallard defense really came around in the win as well. In the fisrt inning, shortstop Brashad Johnson (Des Moines Area CC) committed an error on a grounder by the second batter of the game, but made up for it by turning a 6-3 double play to end the inning.

In the third, Andy Leonard (UIC) led off the third with the first hit for the Express, but Jansen and Jimmy Parque (St. John’s) held them at bay. The center fielder Parque laid out for a beautiful diving catch, one of his three putouts in the inning.

Jansen (6-1) allowed back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth, but got Leonard to record the seventh Express flyout of the game to get out of the inning. The left-hander recorded eight flyouts in all.

“At the end of the game, that’s as gooad as we can do on defense,” Thieleke said. “It shouldn’t be news playing good “D”, but lately it has been for us.”

In the seventh, Eau Claire would finally get to Jansen to push a couple runs across, cutting the deficit in half while using a two-out to do so. Eau Claire’s Ganek singled to right to drive in the first one before the next batter, Nate Baumann (Augustana), drove in the second with a ground rule double to left.

The Mallards weren’t seeing this lead get away though. They answered in the bottom half of the inning with three runs off Jaramillo and chased the lefty out of the game following Sabourin’s second two-run hit of the day, making the score 7-2 Madison.

Jaramillo allowed a season-high seven runs on ten hits while striking out five and walking two. The loss dropped his record to 3-3 this season.

The Express (26-20, 5-11) got two runs in the ninth off of Madison reliever Dan Burawa (St. John’s), but nothing more. Both came on Baumann’s two-run double, one of three doubles for the right fielder on the night. He finished 4-for-5 with three RBI.

Madison’s Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) will match-up against Eau Claire’s Louis Head in the second and final game of the series tomorrow night. It’ll mark the final game before the All-Star break.

“He’s been giving us a good chance as a starter,” Thieleke said of his right-handed pitcher. “I expect him to be focused and give us a quality start tomorrow.”

Sunday’s first pitch is slated for 5:05 p.m. at the “Duck Pond”.