Mallards, Rafters Ready for Round Two
by Peter Geppert
Madison, WI – July 14, 2012. The Madison Mallards (6-2, 22-21) will try to even up their three game series against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (4-5, 20-22) tonight at the “Duck Pond”. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm.
On Friday the Rafters took advantage of some shaky relief pitching by the Mallards, putting up six runs on relievers Kyle Barbeck (Missouri) and Will Lamarche (Chabot CC). The spurt was capitalized by a three run homer by Rafters designated hitter Austin Neary (Western Carolina) that made the score 8-2. Down 10-2 in the eighth inning the Mallards would score the final six runs only to fall short when center fielder John Welborn (Texas-San Antonio) flew out to end the game.
With the 10-8 win the Rafters took the first game of the three game series and ended the Mallards three game win streak.
Looking to reverse the Mallards fortunes is right-hander Justin Topa (Long Island). Since beginning his Mallards career striking out the first five batters he faced, Topa (1-1) has struggled. The right-hander is coming into tonight’s matchup with a 9.00 ERA and an opponent’s average of .257 against him. In his last outing on July 7th Topa earned the win after throwing 2.2 innings of quality relief in which he gave up two runs on five hits while striking out five. The Binghamton, New York native features a nice fastball-change up combination, in addition to a solid curve ball and will look to these pitches to establish success in his first start as a Mallard.
Right-hander Ben Heller (Olivet Nazarene) will make his eighth start of the season tonight for the Rafters. In his previous start Heller (3-2) picked up the win after going 6.1 innings and striking out seven in the Rafters 11-3 win over the Eau Claire Express (3-6, 14-29). The right-hander already has some history against the Mallards, taking the loss after giving up five runs on six hits during the Mallards 7-4 win over the Rafters on July 3rd.
From top to bottom the Rafters lineup has been a model of consistency, their .276 average leads the South Division.
Welborn has enjoyed facing the Rafters more than most this season. The speedster is hitting .429 in 4 games against the Rafters, registering six hits over 14 at-bats.
After tonight’s game the Mallards hit the road to finish their series with the Rafters in Wisconsin Rapids. First pitch of that game is scheduled for 1:05 pm.
The Mallards return to the “Duck Pond” on Monday, July 16th to matchup with the Green Bay Bullfrogs (3-5, 25-18). That night will be Madison Parks and Water Park Night at the ballpark, also featuring Millie LEGO kits presented by Zimbrick Honda.
The 2012 season is upon us! Single-game tickets are on-sale for all Mallards home games!
The Madison Mallards are part of the 16-team Northwoods League. The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate League in North America.