Fighting for the first half division crown, the Madison Mallards (22-13) defeated the Wisconsin Woodchucks (13-22) by a final score of 4-3 on Monday night in Wausau. Needing a victory to keep their chances alive, the Mallards received a brilliant pitching performance from right-hander Mitchell Kilkenny (Texas A&M).
Kilkenny was sensational in his third start of the season, as he went six innings while allowing only two hits. He tallied eleven strikeouts on the night, which set the season high for a Mallards starter.
It didn’t take long for the Mallards bats to come alive in Wausau, as Sam Armstrong (Jacksonville) launched his team leading sixth dinger of the season as the leadoff batter in the top of the second inning. It marked the first time since June 23rd that Armstrong had homered in a game.
The game would remain 1-0 into the fifth inning, when the Mallards would tack on another run thanks to a double from Joe Stefanki (San Jose St.) Nelson Maldonado (Florida) came around to score on the Stefanki double, as he reached earlier in the inning after recording his first hit as a member of the Mallards.
After the Woodchucks scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth, Nico Hoerner (Stanford) would push the Mallards lead back to two with a double off the wall in left field to score Nate Palace (Valparaiso).
The Woodchucks had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning as they loaded the bases trailing 3-1. Ty Pennington (Nevada-Reno) came on in relief and was sensational, as he struck out a Woodchuck batter looking, and then induced an inning ending 6-4-3 double play to escape the inning unscathed.
With a two run eighth inning, the Woodchucks sent the game to the ninth inning tied at three. After the Mallards loaded the bases thanks to a couple of defensive lapses by Wisconsin, Matt McCann (Fairleigh Dickinson) delivered a two-out RBI single to score Bryce Carter (Stanford) to give the Mallards a one run lead.
Pennington was back on the mound for the Mallards in the 9th inning, and retired the side in order as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.
The Mallards will enter the final day of the first half of the regular season one game back of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters for first place in the South division. Here is the clinching scenario for the Madison Mallards heading into tomorrow’s action. The Mallards must defeat the Wisconsin Woodchucks tomorrow night at 6:35 PM at Athletic Park in Wausau. The Mallards need a Battle Creek Bombers win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters tomorrow night as well. If those two things happen and the Lakeshore Chinooks defeat the Kalamazoo Growlers as well, the Mallards will be crowned the champions of the first half due to tiebreaking rules in the Northwoods League.
The Mallards will open up the second half of the season at home on Wednesday night as they take on the Battle Creek Bombers at 7:05 PM. The game will be Physicians Plus blanket giveaway night.
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, the Nooutrthwoods 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 portal. For more information, visit www.mallardsbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Mallards as your favorite team.