Mallards Fall in Pitcher’s Duel

The Madison Mallards (15-16, 34-32) fell 3-2 in a hard-fought battle to the Lakeshore Chinooks (17-13, 35-30) at Kapco Park. The day had an air of importance to it with former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Madison starter Matt Horkey (UNC-Charlotte) was phenomenal out of the gate. The southpaw had a perfect-game bid entering the fifth inning until Rylan Thomas singled into centerfield to become the first Chinook to reach base. Through the first four innings, Horkey worked ahead in counts and forced Lakeshore to pop out seven times. In the third inning, Horkey fanned Daniel DeSimone and Mitch Mallek in back-to-back at-bats using a filthy curveball. The Madison starter gave up two hits in the fifth, but worked around the baserunners to keep Lakeshore scoreless entering the sixth inning.

Lakeshore’s hurler Austin Havekost matched Horkey’s great start step for step. Madison looked like it might take an early lead in the second inning after Sam Armstrong (Jacksonville) and David Vinsky (Northwood) led off the inning with a double and a single respectively. With runners on first and third, Havekost came through for Lakeshore with a strikeout and two fly-outs. After that, Havekost hunkered down and would go on to throw seven and two-thirds innings, allowing only one earned run off five hits.

The Mallards found their way onto the board first in the fifth inning. After David Vinsky was hit by a pitch, Andrew Baker (Florida) drilled a ball hard to right field. It looked to be a routine play for right-fielder Mitch Mallek, but the Lakeshore outfielder lost his footing and was unable to make the catch. Baker hustled around the bases all the way to third base while Vinsky crossed the plate as the first run of ballgame. Later in the seventh inning, Vinsky would put up the Mallards second and final run after he blasted a solo home run to left field off.

The Chinook offense finally broke through in the sixth inning as four consecutive hits brought in two runs for Lakeshore. With two runners on base, Madison reliever Luke Shilling (Illinois) replaced Horkey on the bump. Shilling was able to keep Lakeshore from reaching base, but a hard ground ball to third base from Tim DalPorto scored the third run of the inning to give the Chinooks the edge.

The Madison bullpen looked strong throughout the last three innings. Luke Shilling and Jason Ruffcorn (Texas A&M) both limited activity on the base-paths and only allowed three hits through three frames.

After dropping game two of the series to Lakeshore, Madison is now a game and a half out of a playoff spot. The Mallards will try and chase down the Chinooks for the fourth best overall record in the South Division. Madison starts a two-game pairing with the Green Bay Bullfrogs (10-19, 22-42) tomorrow at 7:05 PM at Joannes Stadium. Listen in live on 106.7 FM and 1670 AM The ZONE.