Mallards Impress En Route to Victory
The Madison Mallards (18-18, 37-34) took down the Battle Creek Bombers (22-14, 42-29) at Warner Park on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Warner Park. The 7-3 victory was powered by a four-run second inning and clutch Madison defense and pitching.
The Mallards jumped out to an early lead thanks to a big inning in the bottom of the second. Zac Taylor (Illinois) doubled after a David Vinksy (Northwood) leadoff walk. A batter later Maverick Handley (Stanford) knocked them both in on a double down the left field line. Matt Elsenpeter (NDSU) and Sam Hawley (Ashland University) also tallied RBI in the inning and the Mallards claimed an early 4-0 lead.
The early run support was welcomed by Madison starter Matt Horkey (UNC-Charlotte). The Madison southpaw was dealing in the early going as he held the potent Bombers offense hitless through five innings. Horkey was backed by strong defense all evening and despite allowing one run in the third, his brilliant outing gave the Mallards a 5-1 lead through five frames.
In the top of the sixth, the Battle Creek offense awoke. The Bombers pounded out four straight singles and scratched across a pair of runs to put the pressure on the Mallards. The inning ended on a huge defensive play by Madison left fielder Sam Hawley. With two Bombers on base, Hawley ranged to his right on a hard hit line drive and laid out to make a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and preserve the Madison lead. After six, the Mallards held a narrow 5-3 lead.
But Hawley’s run-saving snag was not the only stellar defensive play of the night. The Mallards also turned a pair of key double plays in the infield that ended scoring threats in both the sixth and eighth innings.
With the Bombers offense gaining momentum, the Madison offense needed more insurance. In the bottom of the eighth, Madison first baseman Sam Armstrong (Jacksonville) came through with a clutch two-run bomb into the Great Dane Duck Blind Suites. The dinger gave the Mallards a 7-3 lead and Armstrong rounded the bags as the Madison faithful erupted.
Madison reliever Drew Buckley (California) worked the final inning and a third for the Mallards and ended the game with a punctuation point. With the Warner Park crowd rocking and two Bombers on base, Buckley struck out Alex Howard after an eight-pitch battle. The ballpark erupted and the Mallards secured the 7-3 win.
Despite the Mallards big victory, Madison was eliminated from playoff contention tonight due to a Lakeshore Chinooks win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters at Witter Field tonight. Despite trailing the Chinooks by only a game with one to play, Lakeshore would hold the tiebreaker to claim the final playoff spot.
The Mallards finish up the 2017 season tomorrow with another matchup with the Bombers. Game time is set for 4:05 PM at the Duck Pond and gates are scheduled to open at 2:30 PM. It is Fan Appreciation night featuring the ZOOperstars! presented by TDS. Also, tomorrow’s game features Barstool Sports night in The Great Dane Duck Blind. Listen to all Mallards games live by tuning into The Zone 106.7 FM or 1670 AM. For more Mallards coverage, visit mallardsbaseball.com.