Offensive Onslaught Thrusts Mallards to Sixth-Straight Win Against Bombers
Madison, Wis. (August 6) – Anthony Gonsolin (St. Mary’s College), perhaps the most versatile offensive threat in the Northwoods League this season, was a noticeable omission from field manager Donnie Scott’s lineup card Thursday night against the Battle Creek Bombers (13-21, 26-43).
A surging Mallards offense decided it wouldn’t matter.
Ten consecutive Madison hitters reached base in some form or another to start the bottom of the first inning in their series opener with Battle Creek, an early offensive onslaught leading to a ten-run first frame that positioned Madison to claim a convincing 13-5 victory over their South Division counterpart.
The Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison ‘Big Win’ of the Night – Madison’s sixth straight to begin August – helped the Mallards remain two and a half games back of the Kenosha Kingfish, who defeated the Kalamazoo Growlers in extra innings late on Thursday, for second place in the division’s second-half standings.
“It was impressive,” Scott said after the game. “We didn’t necessarily knock the ball around; we benefited from some errors, walks and things like that. But it was good to see. There was a lot of energy here (at Warner Park) late in the season and that’s a great thing for us. We feed of that a lot of the time.”
Jean Ramirez (Illinois State) provided a healthy portion of Madison’s first-inning offensive outburst, tabbing a run-scoring single to score Tony Butler (Madison College) and crushing a three-run home run over the left centerfield wall – his seventh of the summer – later in the inning. Peter Strommen (UW-Stevens Point), making his Mallards debut in left field, laced an RBI single in the first, while two other runs were produced on wild pitches and another on a fielding error.
Complementing Madison’s offensive outburst, starting pitcher A.J. Bogucki (North Carolina) provided three shutout innings of one-hit ball in his tenth start of the season, which was limited by Scott and his coaching staff to maintain a fresh arm for postseason play. Jesse Kay (California) received the winning decision on the mound in 2.1 innings of relief with three strikeouts for the Mallards, allowing just one run in his eighteenth appearance of the 2015 season.
The Bombers attempted to mount a comeback effort in the top of the sixth, an inning that saw Ryan Budnick lace a two-run double off Troy Kenkel (UW-La Crosse) to trim Madison’s lead to 11-2. Battle Creek, who had won eight of their last ten games coming into Thursday, then manufactured a run in the seventh, but was quickly answered in the home half of the eighth courtesy of an RBI walk by Matt McCann (Fairleigh Dickson) and run-scoring groundout from Ramirez.
Brennon Lund and Dan Swain kept Battle Creek’s heartbeat alive with run-scoring singles against Justin Watts (Northern Kentucky) in the top of the ninth, but Madison’s power-armed, late-inning reliever eventually settled to retire the side with two runs to his credit and a pair of whiffs. Despite giving up two runs in the ninth, Watts’ pair of whiffs ran his season strikeout-per-nine ratio to an impressive 13.8 (20 strikeouts in 13 innings).
“I don’t know, I think we’re just firing on all cylinders,” Bogucki said of his teammates after the victory Thursday night. “All year long, it’s been either our pitching or then maybe we don’t hit, or when we do hit, the pitching isn’t there…I’d say just keep doing what we’re doing,” said Bogucki of the key to a strong finish to the regular season. “Don’t try and do anything different and things should work out.”
Riding the wave of momentum inherent to a six-game winning streak, Bogucki and the Mallards will now direct their focus to Friday’s 7:05 p.m. series finale – and regular-season home finale – with the Bombers. Friday will be Charter Communications Fan Appreciation Night at the Duck Pond, with a special appearance from the ZOOperstars. For tickets, call the Mallards Ticket Office at 608-246-4277 or visit www.MallardsBaseball.com for more information.
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.