John Hicks (Virginia) had three hits, including two doubles, to help the Mallards defeat the Waterloo Bucks 6-5 in the must-win game at Riverfront Stadium Saturday. Hicks extended his hitting streak to seven games and now has a .273 batting average.
Waterloo, IA – August 1, 2009. John Hicks (Virginia) and Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) each had three hits as the Mallards held on to defeat the Waterloo Bucks 6-5 Saturday night at Riverfront Stadium to move within one-half game of the first-place La Crosse Loggers who lost to the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Mallards starting pitcher Jacob Esch’s (Georgia Tech) performance was just what the team needed in giving the bullpen a bit of rest as he threw seven innings and allowed three runs (2 earned) on only two hits. Esch picked up his third win (3-1) of the season and his ERA now stands at 3.60.
After reliever Patrick Lala (Kirkwood CC) loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs, closer Dan Burawa (St. John’s) was then able to bear down and strike out Phil Keppler (Iowa) to end the game and pick up his sixth save of the season.
The Mallards offense got on the board in the first inning when left fielder John Hicks (Virginia) led the scoring threat by hitting a one-out single to extend his hitting streak to seven games. However, Hicks would be cut down trying to steal second base during Jerrud Sabourin’s (Indiana) at-bat. Sabourin would later reach on a walk. Up came catcher Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) who advanced by getting plunked to put two men on in front of Troy Channing (St. Mary’s). In his at-bat, Channing didn’t try to do too much, and hit a ball to third baseman Troy White (Northern Illinois) that was booted for a run-scoring error to plate Sabourin and give the Mallards the early 1-0 lead.
Waterloo came right back in the bottom half of the first inning as leadoff man Willie Argo (Illinois) walked and advanced to second on a Kevin Wager (Villanova) putout to third baseman Jared Anderson (Winona State). Argo then advanced to third on a 6-3 putout to get retire Michael Giller (Illinois). From there, a Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) wild pitch allowed Argo to score during Phil Keppler’s (Iowa) at-bat and tie the game at one. Keppler would later walk in front of Pat Stover (Santa Clara), who doubled to score Keppler and give the Bucks their first lead of the game at 2-1.
All would be quiet until the Mallards third inning during which Hicks led off the frame with a double and Sabourin added a single up the middle to put runners on the corners. After getting hit by a pitch in the first inning, the next batter in Patterson, this time smoked the first pitch he saw from C.J. Rose (Jefferson CC) to dead center field for a three run home run, his first long ball since July 4. The Mallards now had a 4-2 advantage.
Mr. Hicks would be at it again in the fourth by adding his third hit of the game, this time a first-pitch line drive double over the head of left fielder Stover to score Alex Jones (Northern Illinois) who was on with a double of his own. After tonight’s performance Hicks is now hitting .273 on the year.
The Bucks would threaten in the bottom half by putting men on the corners with two outs but pitcher Esch made a nice snag on a line drive hit by Zach McCool (Iowa) to end the inning and maintain the three-run lead for Madison.
Sloppy defense by the Mallards in the seventh inning would net another run for Waterloo as Josh Lyon led-off the frame by advancing on an error by third baseman Anderson. Esch was then able to bear down and induce a couple of 4-3 putouts by Troy White and McCool, as Lyon advanced to third. After Argo reached on a walk, an error by Patterson allowed Lyon to score and shorten the Mallards lead to 5-3. Esch would later strikeout Wager for the third out.
Madison would add insurance in the eighth inning when Patterson made up for his error by leading off the frame with a single to center field. Channing then stroked a single of his own to left-center field to move Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) to third, who was pinch running for Patterson. The next batter in right fielder Chris Barker (MATC) did his job by hitting a sacrifice fly to score Rivers and move the Mallards lead back to three runs at 6-3.
Waterloo would get that run back in the bottom half of the frame as Giller led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch by newly inserted reliever Patrick Lala (Kirkwood CC) during Keppler’s at-bat. Giller would then move to third base on a Keppler groundout, 1-3 to those scoring at home. Stover then came to the plate and hit a ground ball to third baseman Anderson that scored Giller for second RBI of the game. The Bucks now trailed 6-4 heading into the final inning.
Waterloo mounted a threat in their final at-bat when Lala walked Lyon to begin the inning. After a strikeout by White, Adrian Williams, who was pinch running for Lyon, was forced out at second base on a ball hit by McCool. Now with two outs, Argo then hit a single to right field and Wager followed by loading the bases after getting hit by a pitch. The league’s second-best hitter in Giller (.350) then drew a four-pitch walk by newly-inserted Mallards reliever Dan Burawa (St. John’s) to pull the Bucks within a run. Burawa would then finally bear down and get Keppler to strike out swining to end the game and give the Mallards a victory in the must-win contest.
With the loss, the Bucks still trail La Crosse by 1.5 games with now only eight games left in the second half of the 2009 Northwoods League season.
The Mallards and Loggers get to enjoy their last off-day of the season on Sunday, while the Bucks do not, and must travel to play the Bullfrogs in a 5:05 p.m. tilt at Joannes Stadium.
On Monday Madison continues its six-game road trip by traveling to St. Cloud to take on the River Bats at 7:05 p.m. Meanwhile, the Loggers head to Battle Creek for a two-game series against the Bombers beginning at 6:05 p.m. (CST).
Catch all Mallards action live on the road by dialing in to FM 100.5 ESPN or by visiting espnmadison.com for a live stream of the games. To watch live video simply click on “Game Day” on Mallardsbaseball.com to begin your viewing experience.
The Mallards return home for a final four-game set beginning Friday, August 7 at 7:05 p.m. against the NWL First Half Champion Eau Claire Express. It’ll be Dejope Gaming Little Bit of Vegas Night with a special appearance by The King! Also, the first 500 kids will receive a Mallards Mini-Bat courtesy of Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar. We’ll also announce the winner of the Boston Red Sox Experience, who will receive free airfare and two tickets to see the Red Sox battle the New York Yankess at Fenway Park on August 22!
Plenty of great seats are still available and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling the box office at 608.246.4277 today!