Mallards top Dock Spiders with late rally

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — With the series at stake, the Madison Mallards (2-4, 21-20) rallied in the top of the ninth inning to top the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (3-3, 19-23) by a score of 3-2 on Monday night.

In a sunny evening at Herr-Baker field, two outstanding starting pitchers squared off in a duel that dominated the first half of the game. For Madison, Tyler Dyson (Florida) threw the first five innings and held Fond du Lac to only four hits and no runs in his debut in a Mallards uniform. His Dock Spider counterpart on the mound, Jack Collins, controlled Madison for the first six innings and allowed only four hits and no runs.

Despite the strong pitching performances, both teams had opportunities to score that they could not capitalize on. By the end of the game the Mallards had stranded 12 runners on base while Fond du Lac left 11. Fond du Lac reliever Kyle Huckaby kept Madison in check throughout the seventh and eighth innings. After stranding so many runners on base, the Mallards offense seemed as if they would be unable to push a single run across.

The scoring began in the bottom of the eighth inning when, with runners on first and third, Fond du Lac’s Nick Fortes singled to right field to plate Luke Mengieri from third base and give the Dock Spiders a 1-0 advantage.

The Mallards took offense to Fond du Lac’s lead and a half inning later struck back. Jake Matheny (Indiana) singled to center field to lead off the top of the ninth. Behind him, Zac Taylor (Illinois) drove a ball into the left-center field gap to move Jalen Harrison (Virginia), a pinch-runner for Matheny, over to third base. Two batters later with runners on second and third, Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. (California) grounded a ball hard to Dock Spider third basemen AJ Lewis. Lewis bobbled the ball, and then overthrew Mangieri at first base. The fielding error allowed two runs to score for Madison. David Vinsky (Northwood) then singled to the left side of the infield, allowing Mitchell Jr. to score from second. This would prove to be the winning run, as Fond du Lac was able to notch one run in the bottom of the ninth but nothing more.

Vinsky, Taylor, and Matheny, all recorded 2-4 efforts at the plate tonight. The Mallards were only able to muster eight hits, but stellar pitching kept Fond du Lac’s offense under control. After Dyson’s strong start, left-handed reliever Andrew Baker (Florida) tossed a strong two and two-thirds, allowing one run. David Stover (Marietta) and Dom Savino (Albany) combined to polish off the Dock Spiders in the final two innings.

Mallards open season with 11-6 win over Dock Spiders

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards slugged their way to an 11-6 season opening victory over the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders on Tuesday evening at Warner Park. The game marked the beginning of the 2017 Northwoods League season and also the inaugural game for the Fond du Lac Lake Spiders who were added to the Northwoods League during the offseason.

For the Mallards, Doran Turchin (Univesity of Illinois), Brock Weimer (SIUE), and Cade Bunnell (Madison College) set the pace offensively as they each knocked a home run to left field. The long ball proved to be essential to the Madison offense as eight of the eleven runs were driven in by home runs. After leading the NWL in dingers last summer, this year’s Mallards team appears to be following where the 2016 team left off.

To begin the game, after a scoreless top half, the Mallards offense wasted no time as Jett Manning (Frederick) led off the bottom of the first with a single into left field and then swiped second base two batters later. After hit by pitch, Turchin launched a three-run shot over the left field fence to give Madison an early 3-0 advantage.

After the Dock Spiders tacked on a run in the top of the third, the Mallards added a pair on a two-run bomb by designated hitter, Weimer. Madison took advantage of the short-porch in left field again in the fourth as Bunnell poked a slicing fly ball over the wall for a three-run home run. The long ball gave the Mallards a 9-1 lead.

“I was trying to hit the ball hard and on a line and I just got it up into the air and it felt good. I didn’t know that I got it out right away but I knew it had a chance”, explained Bunnell. Bunnell, a Stoughton, WI native went yard on an exciting night in his baseball career. “I’ve been coming to these games for as long as I can remember so it’s kind of been a dream come true. It’s a pretty cool opportunity”, he explained.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Schmitt (Illinois) relieved Heath Renz (UW-Whitewater) in the top of the sixth and inherited a 9-4 lead. Schmitt was extremely effective out of the bullpen as he struck out the side in the sixth then retired the side in the seventh. Renz earned the win as he tossed five innings, allowed four runs, none of which were earned. He also allowed only three hits and struck out three.

In the late innings, Manning and Brady Pfaadt (Bellarmine) both tacked on run-scoring knocks. Also, Chris Choles (NDSU) provided an additional two innings of relief.

Next on the slate for the Mallards is another contest with the Dock Spiders tomorrow at 6:35 PM at Warner Park. The game will be the second of a five-game homestand at the Duck Pond to begin the season.