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Mallards conclude season-series versus Express Saturday

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Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) has now reached base safely in 22 straight games, the second longest active streak in the Northwoods League behind Wisconsin’s Chad Wright (27).

Madison, Wis. – August 8, 2009. The Mallards will ride last night’s come-from-behind victory in hopes of sweeping South Division rival Eau Claire while chasing first place La Crosse which sits a mere half-game in front of them in the standings.

Last night’s dramatic win saw Madison trail 6-0 in the early goings and 8-5 after seven innings of play. But in the eighth, the offense came to life, scoring seven runs after six straight singles started the frame. John Hicks (Virginia) came through with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate including his third home run of the season in the 12-9 win. He also drove in a game-high four runs and scored three as well.

J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) threw four solid innings in relief, striking out six while allowing just a pair of runs to cross the plate. Brad Allen’s (Elgin CC) scoreless eighth earned him the win and moved his record to 3-3 on the year.

Madison (36-28 overall, 17-13 second half) has now won four straight against the Express (35-30, 14-21) after dropping the first three games of the season series. They need one more before welcoming Green Bay on Sunday as La Crosse remains one-half game in front of the Mallards in the South Division after its win over Waterloo last night.

Madison right-hander Alex Rivers (Santa Clara) takes the mound tonight against Eau Claire lefty Ryan Kiel (Marshall). Eau Claire, the first half South champions, need only to be playing for momentum as their spot in the Northwoods League playoffs is already secure.

Tonight’s game will start at 6:05 p.m. with gates opening 90 minutes prior. It’ll be Summit Credit Union Play More Catch Night at the “Duck Pond”. The first 1,000 adult/child combos will receive a free baseball and have the opportunity to play catch in the outfield after the game!

Great seats are available for all three remaining regular season home games. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here or by calling the box office at 608.246.4277.

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Tonight’s Pitching Match-up
RHP Alex Rivers – Boasts a 3-2 record with a 3.00 ERA this year. He earned the win in his last start with six innings of two-run ball in a 7-4 win over St. Cloud. He’s 0-1 against Eau Claire this season, but has a slim 1.86 ERA in two starts spanning over 12 innings of work. The Express are hitting just .175 against him this season.

LHP Ryan Kiel – Has a 1-0 record with a 1.86 ERA on the season. He made his first start for the Express back on Aug. 1, and earned the win, surrendering a run on three hits over five innings while striking out three and walking three in a 5-3 win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks. Kiel has made two appearances against the Mallards this year accounting for six innings pitched. He’s given up one run on four hits during that span. Madison is hitting .190 against him.

A Knack for Getting On-Base
Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) used an unconventional way of reaching base last night. He sacrificed his body for the good of the team in what eventually became a pair of bases loaded hit-by-pitches. It extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 22, the second-longest active streak in the NWL. Chad Wright of the Wisconsin Woodchucks currently leads the league by reaching base in 27 straight games while Michael Giller of Waterloo had the longest such streak in the NWL snapped at 28 games back on July 23.

A Rare Late-Inning Win
It’s tough for any team to come back from a late-inning deficit, making the Mallards’ 7-run eighth inning that much more impressive. It was just the fourth win for the Mallards this season when trailing after seven innings, improving that mark to 4-24. Maybe even more impressive was the team they snake bit as Eau Claire was 28-1 when leading after seven innings entering last night’s contest.

Nail Biters
Six of the seven games between Madison and Eau Claire have been decided by three runs or less, the lone exception, an 11-7 Mallards win back on July 19. Here’s a list of the season series between both squads:

08/07   EAU CLAIRE 9  at MADISON 12

07/19   EAU CLAIRE 7  at MADISON 11

07/18   EAU CLAIRE 4  at MADISON 7 

06/26   MADISON 3  at EAU CLAIRE 2   (12 inn.)

06/25   MADISON 1  at EAU CLAIRE 3   (G2)

06/25   MADISON 4  at EAU CLAIRE 7   (G1)

06/20   MADISON 1  at EAU CLAIRE 2