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Gruener, Mallards Aim for Sweep of Kingfish in Kenosha

7-10 pre game CROPPEDMadison, Wis. (July 10) – Trimming Kenosha’s second-half divisional lead to one game with a decisive 13-2, series-opening victory over the Kingfish (8-2, 31-16) Thursday night at the Duck Pond, the Madison Mallards (6-2, 26-17) will aim to complete a two-game sweep of their South Division opponent with a win Friday night at Simmons Field. Comprehensive play-by-play coverage of tonight’s contest will be provided by 100.5 FM ESPN Madison. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Last night, the Mallards piled up 15 hits – five for extra-bases – against a run-stingy Kenosha pitching staff, including J.J. Gould’s (Jacksonville) second home run in his last two games and a 3-for-3 performance with three runs batted in from Cameron Frost (Washington State), who took home the Northwoods League’s Player of the Night honors. A.J. Bogucki (North Carolina) lowered his season ERA to 3.19 with six innings of one-run ball on the mound, while Grant Spranger (Southeastern CC) provided three strikeouts and no walks across three scoreless frames of relief for Madison.

Seeking another quality outing from his staff, Mallards field manager Donnie Scott will task Nick Gruener (Harvard) with his fourth start of the summer tonight in Kenosha. Gruener, a 6-foot-0 right hander from Miami Palmetto, Fla., enters tonight’s contest following a stretch of seven consecutive appearances (12.2 IP) out of Madison’s bullpen in which he posted a 2.95 ERA and 18:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In tandem with his three previous starts for the Mallards rotation, Gruener holds true to a 3.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 30:5 K/BB mark across 11 total games (24.1 IP) in 2015.

After watching the Mallards tag Andrew Zapata (UConn) with nine runs in three innings on Thursday, the Kingfish will turn to right-handed pitcher Ryne Blanton (Madison College) to tab his sixth start of the season in tonight’s series finale at Simmons Field. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Spring Grove, Ill., carries a 2-0 record, 3.71 ERA and 1.39 WHIP into this evening’s key matchup, including an 11:8 K/BB ratio. Blanton garnered a 2.65 ERA with four saves and held opponents to a .177 batting average across 15 games (51 IP) during his freshman collegiate campaign with the Wolfpack.

  • Second-Half Surge – Conceding just one run to Kenosha en route to his second winning decision of the summer Thursday night, Bogucki withered his ERA to 0.86 across his first two starts (12 IP) of the second half. The 6-foot-2 right hander has held opponents to seven hits (only one for extra bases) in that span, including an 8:2 K/BB mark.

The Mallards will return to the Duck Pond tomorrow (Saturday, July 11) at 6:05 p.m. against the Battle Creek Bombers. Saturday will be Dane County Regional Airport Who Knew? Night featuring a celebrity appearance by Who Knew? host Michael Feldman, who will be available for fan autographs and pictures pre-game and will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. For tickets, call the Mallards ticket office at 608-246-4277 or visit www.MallardsBaseball.com for more information.

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The Madison Mallards are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website.  For more information, visit www.MallardsBaseball.com.