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Stefanki Powers Mallards to Walk-Off Win

Madison, WI – June 18, 2016. Seven hits was all the Mallards (13-6) needed Saturday night, as they were able to best the Green Bay Bullfrogs (6-13) in walk-off fashion. A ninth inning that was capped off by a Joe Stefanki (San Jose State) RBI single was able to propel the Mallards past Green bay in a contest that ended in fireworks, both literally and figuratively.

Justin Watts (Northern Kentucky) looked strong through his six innings of work, with his only mistake coming with two runners on in the sixth. With two outs, Watts elevated a first pitch fastball to Green Bay’s Quincy Nieporte (Florida State), who sent the pitch deep, giving the Bullfrogs the lead.

The Mallards would get a run back in the sixth thanks to a Matt Vierling (Notre Dame) RBI single that scored Matt McCann (Fairleigh Dickinson). Heading to the seventh down a run, Donnie Scott would hand the ball to his bullpen, calling upon Ty Pennington (Nevada-Reno) in the close game. Pennington would answer the call, striking out two of the three Bullfrogs he faced.

The game started to turn in the seventh for the Mallards, as Stefanki would come to the plate with one away. The backstop choose a great time to hit his first home run in a Mallards uniform, launching a 3-1 pitch over left-center to tie the game.

Troy Bacon (Santa Fe College) would check into the game in the eighth, looking to put the Mallards in a position where they could go home winners. He did just that, striking out four batters in two innings of work. Bacon was able to escape danger in the top of the ninth, leaving runners on the corners after they arrived with only one out. After fanning Jonah Davis (California), Bacon looked as fired up as ever.

“With 6,500 fans behind you, how can you not get fired up in that situation?” said Bacon.

With the game still tied and one away in the ninth, Nate Palace (Valparaiso) would rope a double to the right-centerfield wall, putting a runner in scoring position with one down. In stepped Joe Stefanki, looking to be the hero twice in one night.

The first pitch Stefanki saw was in the dirt, allowing Palace to advance to third. The complexion of the at-bat would take a 180-degree turn, as Stefanki recognized.

“At that point I knew I needed to hit the ball hard,” said Stefanki. “I had no clue where it was going to be hit, but it was going to be hit hard.”

Looking for the same fastball he was looking for in the seventh, Stefanki drove a fly ball to the wall, easily scoring Palace and securing the walk-off win for Madison. It was their first walk-off of 2016.

“We were going to have to scrap,” Stefanki said. “It was a great team win.”

Troy Bacon would pick up the win, allowing only two hits in his two innings of work. The loss would be given to the Bullfrogs Harrisen Egly (Columbia), who surrendered the double to Palace as well as the winning hit to Stefanki. The victory was Madison’s fourth in a row.

The Mallards will return to the Duck Pond on Tuesday, June 21st for Alliant Energy STEM Night with a science fair. Make Music Madison Night will also be on Tuesday, with live in-stadium boomwhackers with performance by Sunspot. Prior to the game, UW Health Sports Medicine will be providing a healthy off-speed pitching mechanics baseball clinic from 9 am to 12 pm. Cost is $40 for kids ages 8-16. Tickets for the game are available for purchase by visiting MallardsBaseball.com, calling the Mallards ticket office at 608-246-4277, or stopping in the ticket office at 2920 N Sherman Ave.

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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 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2016, 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 150 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 (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website.  For more information, visit www.MallardsBaseball.com