Madison, Wis. – The Madison Mallards clinched a 2018 Northwoods League Playoff spot and the South Division first half title with a 28-8 record through the season’s first 36 ballgames. Madison’s 28 wins were the most wins in a single half in team history and the Mallards have a chance to set a new Northwoods League single season wins record. The current mark stands at 52 wins, achieved by the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters last summer.
The Mallards led the NWL in a number of team statistics during the first half including batting average (.285), hits (363), OPS (.770), home runs (32), RBI (200), ERA (3.06) and saves (15). Here is a look back at a few memorable performances and moments from the first half.
Opening Night- May 29 vs. Wisconsin Rapids
The Mallards dominated in a 10-2 opening night win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters at the Duck Pond. Mallards starter Dalton Morrow (Southwest Baptist) lasted 7.0 innings and allowed only two hits and one unearned runs while the Madison offense pounded out 13 hits. Morrow ended up making three starts for the Mallards in the first half and posted a 1.84 ERA before being deactivated due to a shoulder injury. Mallards outfielder Jayse McLean (NDSU) doubled and hit a home run on his way to knocking in five runs and being named NWL Player of the Night. McLean went on to be a key piece in the Mallards first half success, hitting five homeruns and knocking in 19 runs.
June 6 vs. Wisconsin
As winners of three straight, the Mallards took on the Woodchucks on June 6 at Warner Park. The Mallards built a 5-4 lead going into the sixth inning when pitcher Brian Morrell (Notre Dame)came in and tallied four strikeouts through 2.1 innings of work. Morrell then gave way to Trace Norkus (North Florida). Norkus entered with men on second and third with only one down in the eighth. He executed two crucial strikeouts to escape the inning and hang on to the two-run Madison lead. An inning later, Norkus completed the four-out save by striking out a pair to slam the door shut and seal the Mallards 6-4 win.
June 10 vs. Kenosha, June 13 vs. Lakeshore
Looking for their eighth straight win, the first-place Mallards went to extra innings in an afternoon game against the Kingfish. In the tenth inning, after a Jayse McLean one-out single, catcher Hunter Hisky (Southwest Baptist) crushed a walk-off home run over the right field fence.
The Mallards would walk-off again on June 13 after coming back from a 4-0 deficit. The Mallards took a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning and ended up walking-off on a Tyler Plantier (Richmond) RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Plantier was a key run-producer in the Madison lineup during the entirety of the first half, hitting a NWL-leading eight home runs. Trace Norkus was brilliant in the late innings once again, keeping the game tied in the top of the ninth, striking out pinch hitter Alex Stevenson to strand the go-ahead run at third. After their 11thstraight win, the Mallards would manage one more victory before having the streak snapped against the Green Bay Bullfrogs
June 20 @ Rockford
The Mallards won 2-0 in a 14 inning battle in Rockford on June 20. In the tenth inning, Mallards field manager Donnie Scott deployed a five-man infield with the winning run at third before Nicholes Morales picked up two crucial strikeouts to keep the game scoreless. In the 14thinning, Tyler Plantier blasted a game-winning two-run double before Trace Norkus sealed the victory. The Mallards improved to 17-5 and held a firm lead on the South Division.
June 27 vs Rockford
After falling behind 12-7 against the Rivets due to eight-run Rockford sixth inning, the Mallards battled back to shrink the Rockford lead to only two runs in the seventh inning. Tyler Plantier then tied the game with a two-run bomb before Drew Campbell (Louisville) gave the Mallards the lead with a bloop single. Nicholes Morales pitched two scoreless innings to seal the 14-12 comeback victory. Mallards outfielder Jake Randa (NW Florida State) crushed a three-run bomb in the fourth inning, adding to his hefty RBI total. Randa consistently led the NWL in RBI during the first half and was constantly slotted in the middle of the Madison batting order.
June 30 vs. Green Bay
The Mallards clinched the 2018 NWL South Division first half crown with a 12-6 win over the Bullfrogs on June 30. Jayse McLean crushed two deep home runs and knocked in four runs in the victory. Mallards infielder Trevor Schwecke (UW-Milwaukee) had a pair of hits and continued his torrid pace at the plate. At one point, Schwecke owned a NWL-best 15-game hitting streak. Trace Norkus (North Florida) entered in a dangerous spot with the tying run at the plate and two down in the inning. With runners on first and second and Madison holding a 9-6 lead, Norkus picked up a huge strikeout to end the threat. He then closed out the game with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth to seal the first half crown.
First Half Stat Leaders
- AVG- Tyler Plantier- .336
- Runs- David Vinsky- 29
- Hits- Jake Randa- 48
- RBI- Jake Randa- 32
- HR- Tyler Plantier- 8
- SB- Trevor Schwecke- 14
- OBP- Tyler Plantier .435
- SLG- Tyler Plantier- .602
- OPS- Tyler Plantier- 1.037
- ERA- Trace Norkus- 0.00
- IP- Dalton Wiggins- 33.0
- SO- Sean Leland- 32
- Wins- Dalton Wiggins- 4
- Saves- Trace Norkus- 10
- BAA- Carson Ragsdale- .132
- WHIP- Dalton Wiggins- 0.79
- K/9- Carson Ragsdale- 15.0
- BB/9- Brian Martinez- 1.56
The Madison Mallards are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 170 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via theNorthwoods League portal. For more information, visitwww.mallardsbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Mallards as your favorite team.