Mallards second baseman Adam McClain (Memphis) had four hits, including one double in the team’s 15-9 heartbreaking loss to the Rochester Honkers Wednesday night.
Rochester, MN – August 5, 2009. The Mallards blew a seven run lead by allowing ten Honkers to score in the hard-to-watch sixth inning before falling to North Division-leading Rochester 15-9 at Mayo Field to fall to only one-half game ahead of the La Crosse Loggers with five games left.
The Loggers defeated the South Division First Half Champion Eau Claire Express by a score of 3-1 at Copeland Park. As part of a home-and-home series, these same two teams will now battle tomorrow in Eau Claire at 6:35 p.m.
Last night’s theme of scoring with two-outs extended into the first inning on Wednesday, as designated hitter Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot, after Jimmy Parque (St. John’s) and Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) were put away to begin the frame. After one-half inning, the Mallards led 1-0 in the clash of Division-leaders.
In their next at-bat, the Mallards quickly loaded the bases as Harold Riggins (NC State), the league-leader in RBI with 47, led off the inning with a walk and the next two hitters in Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) and Adam McClain (Memphis) stroked singles to keep the threat alive. Right-fielder Chris Barker, coming off a 3-for-3 game Tuesday, then extended the count to 3-2 but would pop out to second baseman John Tommasini (Oregon State) for the first out. Next came catcher Tyson Blaser (Iowa) who made quick work after swinging and missing the first pitch to lace a single to score Riggins and give the Mallards a 2-0 lead. Rochester starter Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) made a huge mistake to the next hitter in Parque, by plunking the center-fielder to bring across another run. His pitch total was now at 38 just four outs into the game.
Mid-Season All-Star Sabourin then worked Gagnon for another seven pitches before lacing a double to deep right field, that nearly went for a grand slam, to score McClain and Blaser and give the Mallards the early 5-0 lead. Gagnon, who was laboring at this point, was able to bear down and strike out both Patterson and Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) to end the inning but the damage was done as the right-hander had now thrown 55 pitches in the first two innings.
Mallards pitcher Nick Rice (MATC) didn’t look particularly sharp either, as he walked two batters in the second, but was able to get out of it on an unassisted double play hit to second baseman McClain and a ground ball out to Riggins to end the inning. He had walked three batters through the first six outs.
Before Madison’s third plate appearance, an apparent on-field promotion involving a dog went awry as the canine ran into the outfield and needed to be corralled before play resumed minutes later. The weirdness continued as McClain hit a two-out single to keep the inning alive but couldn’t elude a ground ball hit by Barker that ricocheted off the field umpire. The ball hit McClain in the leg and ended the frame for the Mallards.
After sitting down the side in order in the bottom of the fourth, Rice had quietly retired seven straight batters and still hadn’t allowed a hit.
Perhaps knowing that his batting average was quickly dipping near the even .300 mark, Riggins hit a one-out single in the fifth that was followed by back-to-back base-knocks by McClain and Barker to load the bases. McClain’s hit was his third of the game already. The next batter in Blaser then worked Gagnon to a 3-1 count and on the pitcher’s 100th pitch of the night, he walked the Mallards catcher to bring in another run and make the score 6-0, advantage Madison.
This would mark the end to Gagnon’s night as he was lifted for right-handed reliever Brody Taliaferro (Hutchinson CC) to face Parque with the bases still full of Mallards. And for a second time, Parque was hit by a pitch to score McClain and stretch the lead to 7-0. The Mallards center-fielder had two RBI without recording a single hit or sacrifice. Sabourin would then fly out to right field to end the inning.
Rice would run into trouble in the fifth after walking the first two batters in Drew Beuerlein (UNLV) and Danny Pulfer (Oregon), to move his free-pass total to five. The left-hander was then able to get Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) to ground out to third baseman Channing for the first out. However, the next batter in Scott Berke (UNLV) broke up the no-hitter with a single to load the bases for Rochester. The Honkers would then finally get on the scoreboard on a Will Arnold groundout to second base to score Beuerlein and make the score 7-1. Tommasini then added a single to score Pulfer and bring the Honkers within five runs.
They weren’t done yet, as shortstop Corey Jones hit a bloop single of his own to score Arnold for their third run of the inning. Now, with men on first and second base, Rance Roundy laced a double to the left field corner that scored Tommasini but the relay throw to the catcher was in-time to nab Jones trying to score from first. Nonetheless, the damage was done as the new score now read, Mallards 7, Honkers 4.
The Mallards would answer back in the sixth as Channing walked with one out and Riggins added his second hit of the game, this time a rope to left field, to put runners on the corners in front of the versatile Esch. Esch would record his 14th RBI of the season on a groundout to shortstop Jones to give his team back a run. With two outs, McClain then clutched-up and smacked an RBI double to left field, his fourth hit of the game, to score Riggins and give the Mallards a 9-4 lead.
With right-handed reliever Jordan Hershiser (USC) now in the game, the Honkers threatened again in the bottom half of the sixth as Hershiser walked leadoff man Danny Brock and then proceeded to hit the next two batters in Beuerline and Pulfer to load the bases. It took the sophomore pitcher only 10 pitches to get into trouble. Things didn’t get any better as Hershiser then threw a wild pitch during Ramirez’ at-bat to score Brock and the Honkers pulled within four runs again. The right-hander’s night would end a pitch later, on another wild pitch that scored Beuerline and was ball number four on Ramirez to put him on first base. Hershiser’s final line read like this: 0.0, 0 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 2 HBP.
Side-winder Cameron Amsrud (UW-Milwaukee) then entered the game and didn’t impress right away in plunking Berke to load the bases for the Honkers again. He followed with a walk to Arnold to score Pulfer and Rochester now trailed by only two runs with still nobody out. The Honkers had just scored three runs without putting a single ball in play. Another run would score on a Tommasini groundout to second baseman McClain to move the Honkers within one. Pitching coach Jason Immekus then visited the mound and pulled Amsrud in favor of right-hander Brad Allen (Elgin CC) to stop further damage from taking place. All-Star Jones then hit an RBI single to score Berke and after Esch dropped the relay throw, Arnold came around to do the same and the Honkers had just stormed back to take their first lead at 10-9. Roundy then recorded the Honkers third walk of the inning, not including the three batters hit by pitches, to put two men on in front of Brock who singled to load the bases yet again. Allen would then get Beuerline to ground into a forceout at homeplate for the second out of the inning. Pulfer then, you-guessed-it, walked to score Pulfer and put Rochester ahead 11-9.
But the damage would get worse as Ramirez then smacked a bases-clearing double to score three more runs in the ten-run inning and push the score to 14-9. Thankfully, the next batter in center-fielder Berke would ground out to third baseman Jared Anderson (Winona State) to end the inning. The Honkers posted a double-digit run total in the sixth on only three hits.
Rochester would tack on another score in the eighth as Berke singled to plate Brock who was on by with a leadoff hit-by-pitch and advanced to third when the Mallards newest reliever on this night, Garrett Granitz (Azusa Pacific), walked two batters to push the team’s dubious total to 12 free passes. The Honkers led 15-9 heading into the final inning.
Closer S McGough then shut down the Mallards offense in the ninth by retiring the side in order to preserve the amazing come-behind victory for the first place Honkers.
Honkers reliever Taliaferro received the win (2-0) for Rochester after allowing two earned runs in 1.1 innings of work. He was the pitcher on record when his team put a 10-spot on Madison in the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Mallards reliever Amsrud picked up his second loss (0-2) of the season after allowing two runs while only recording a single out in that haunting sixth frame.
Leading the Mallards offense was McClain who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI and Sabourin who went 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI.
Madison returns home this Friday, August 7 for their LAST four regular season games beginning at 7:05 p.m.
Friday’s promotions include the Dejope Little Bit of Vegas Night with a special appearance by The King, and the Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar Mini Bat Night (first 500 kids!). On top of that, the fan who records the fastest pitch thrown in the Mallards “Speed Pitch” will win the opportunity to throw against Hall of Famer Paul Molitor in the MLB Alumni Game on August 21 at the “Duck Pond.” We can’t forget the “World’s Largest Candy Drop” that will occur after the game either. Over 2,000 pieces of candy, including 1,000 packs of Quench Gum, will be dropped 100′ from a lift in center field towards an outfield packed full of kids. You won’t want to miss this!
Plently of great seats are available for this weekend’s games and can be purchased online by clicking here, or by calling the box office at 608.246.4277 today!