Comeback Kids: Woodchucks use three-run ninth to shock Mallards, 5-3
Trailing the Madison Mallards 3-2 with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning, the Woodchucks strung together four consecutive hits to shock the Ducks, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon at Warner Park.
After first baseman Brendon Hayden and center fielder Nick Banks struck out against Mallards’ reliever Ben Neumann leading off the ninth inning, the hope for the Chucks (11-7) appeared bleak. However, right fielder Troy Traxler, who had three hits for the second consecutive game, kept Wisconsin’s hopes alive with a single to center field.
Kevin Connolly, having just one hit on the year, was then down in the count 1-2, and the Mallards (12-7) were one strike away from victory.
Connolly had other ideas. The Chucks’ designated hitter beat out a grounder to the hole at short, sending Traxler to second and shortstop Edgar Figueroa, making his 2014 Woodchucks debut, to the plate.
Figueroa hit a sharp ground ball to center field, and Traxler raced home scoring the tying run for the Woodchucks.
Zach Arnold, Wisconsin’s catcher, came through big in his first plate appearance of the day. Arnold lined a double down the left field line for his first hit of the year. His double scored two following a fielding error from Mallards’ left fielder Alex Bacon, and proved to be the game-winner. The Woodchucks then led it 5-3, and held on to win by that score when left-handed reliever John Oltman fired a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning, recording his second save of the year.
The Woodchucks’ bats were silent through the first six innings against Madison’s starting pitcher, righty Christian Taugner.
However, trailing 3-0 in the seventh, the Chucks put two on the board as third baseman Paul DeJong led off and singled to left, and eventually came around to score Wisconsin’s first run of the game on Banks’ sacrifice fly. Hayden, who also singled in the inning, scored after Traxler’s second single of the day, which cut the Mallards’ lead to 3-2.
Kent State product Andy Ravel tossed the first four innings on the mound for the Woodchucks, surrendering three runs on three hits, while striking out three and walking three. Reliever Kaylor Chafin tossed a scoreless fifth, and Austin Tribby fired three scoreless innings, picking up the win and improving to 3-0 on the year, before Oltman collected the save.
The Woodchucks are back in action Monday in the first of two at Athletic Park against the Kalamazoo Growlers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 P.M.
The Wisconsin Woodchucks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwood’s League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwood’s 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 115 Northwood’s League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwood’s League YouTube channel. For more information, visit woodchucks.com.