Former Mallards OF Derek Fisher debuts with Astros

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Former Madison Mallards outfielder, Derek Fisher, made his Major League debut for the Houston Astros on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Fisher is the 177th former Northwoods League player to reach the Major League level.

Fisher, who played collegiately at Virginia, played for the Madison Mallards in 2012. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round, 37th overall, of the 2014 MLB Draft.

In 2012 with the Mallards, Fisher hit .315 over 51 games and had eight home runs, 10 doubles and two triples. He also drove in 36 runs and stole eight bases.

Fisher started his Minor League career in 2014 with the Astros Rookie Level team in the Gulf Coast League. After one game, he was promoted to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Short-Season A New York-Penn League. Between the two teams he hit a combined .310 with two home runs, three triples, two doubles and 18 runs driven in. He also stole 17 bases and scored 31 runs.

Fisher started the 2015 season with a promotion to the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Lo-A Midwest League. After 39 games with Quad Cities he was sent to the Lancaster JetHawks of the Hi-A California League. For the season, he hit .275 in 123 games with 22 home runs, 21 doubles and eight triples. To go along with those impressive numbers, he also stole 31 bases and drove in 87 runs.

A promotion again for the 2016 season saw Fisher begin the year with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the AA Texas League. He would play in 102 games before another promotion to end the season to the Fresno Grizzlies of the AAA Pacific Coast League. Over 129 games he hit .255 with 21 home runs, 21 doubles, four triples and 76 runs driven in. He also tacked on 28 stolen bases and scored 71 runs.

Prior to his call-up to Houston, Fisher had played in 60 games and was hitting .335 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI. He also had 19 doubles and had stolen 13 bases.

In his Major League debut against the Texas Rangers, Fisher started the game in left field. In the 6th inning he hit the second pitch he saw from Jeremy Jeffress for a home run to left field for his first Major League hit. Then again later in the 6th inning he would single off of Rangers reliever and former Brainerd Blue Thunder pitcher Dillon Gee. Fisher would finish the game 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI and two walks.

(NorthwoodsLeague.com)

Troy Bacon leads group of four Mallards taken in MLB Draft

MADISON, Wis. — The 2017 MLB Draft featured four former Madison Mallards players, including Northwoods League All-Star pitcher Troy Bacon.

Bacon (Santa Fe College) was drafted in the fourth round (110th overall) by the Atlanta Braves. In his 2016 season with the Mallards, Bacon led the team with 53 strikeouts, six saves, and 13.76 strikeouts per nine innings. At the halfway mark of the season, he led the Northwoods League in wins, despite pitching out of the bullpen.

Mallards selected in 2017 MLB Draft:
RHP Troy Bacon | Atlanta Braves (4th Rd. 110th overall)
RHP Tyler Buffett | Cincinnati Reds (6th Rd. 167th overall)
RHP Colin Brockhouse | Toronto Blue Jays (24th Rd. 729th overall)
SS Matt McCann | Los Angeles Angels (25th Rd. 745th overall)

Tyler Buffett posted a 20-12 record in his four-year career at Oklahoma State with a 3.78 ERA. His lone season in Madison didn’t quite live up to that level, finishing his 2014 campaign with a 1-4 record and 6.35 ERA. Despite the slight dip in production, it surely didn’t hurt that he’s the cousin of Warren Buffett.

Having success in the 2016 season with Bacon was Colin Brockhouse. He finished with a 2-1 record and a 5.40 ERA in four starts, while striking out 7.0 batters per nine innings. Brockhouse was draft-eligible as a sophomore out of Ball State last season, but chose not to sign after being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 37th round.

Matt McCann spent two seasons in Madison, finding success with the Mallards in the 2015 and 2016 campaigns. He played significantly more in the 2016 season where he posted a .262 batting average with 70 total bases. He also recorded one home run and 22 RBIs. As a player at Farleigh DIckenson University, McCann led the Knights in career stolen bases. He also led the conference in batting average (.379), hits (69) and stolen bases (25).

Mallards split weekend series with Bullfrogs

GREEN BAY, Wis. — After a 20-1 rout of the Green Bay Bullfrogs (2-3) on Saturday, the Madison Mallards (2-3) split a two game series with their South Division foes with a 4-1 loss on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Joannes Stadium.

Roles were reversed from the previous night, when the Mallards belted 24 hits to the Bullfrogs five. Today, the Mallards were held to four hits from a Green Bay pitching effort lead by Connor Wollersheim (Kent State). Wollersheim threw seven innings and struck out six. Darren Kelley (Alabama State) and Nick Ohanian (Mesa CC) teamed up out of the Green Bay bullpen to shut down the Mallards by striking out five of the last six batters.

Green Bay jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the second before Madison was able to put their lone run on the board. Cade Bunnell (Madison) ripped a two-out double in the third inning to score Nick Schrader (Western Illinois), who was hit by a pitch a few batters earlier. Madison would not be able to cook up any more offense for the remainder of the afternoon.

For the Mallards, freshman Ryan Schmitt (Illinois) started on the mound and gave up one run through four solid innings in his first start this season. In the sixth inning, with Dom Savino (Albany) on the bump, the Bullfrogs were able to load the bases. With the bases jammed, Green Bay left-fielder Troy Johnston (Gonzaga) launched a bases-clearing double over Doran Turchin’s (Illinois) head in centerfield, bringing in three Bullfrogs.

The Mallards will now travel to Kalamazoo for a pair of games against the Growlers. The first of the two games is set to start tomorrow at 6:05 PM CST (7:05 PM ET). The Mallards next home game will be on Wednesday, June 7 when they take on the Rockford Rivets at 6:35 PM at the Duck Pond. All Mallards games can be listened to live on 106.7 FM and 1670 AM The ZONE.

(MallardsBaseball.com)

Mallards fall to Chinooks in series finale 10-3

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards (1-3) dropped a second game to the Lakeshore Chinooks (3-1), 10-3 on Friday night at Warner Park. Kian O’Brien (Madison College) had a pair of hits for the Mallards and also scored a run. Centerfielder Doran Turchin (Illinois) reached base three times as he tallied both a double and a single and drove in a run.

After a quick first two innings, in which Mallards starting pitcher Mitch Vogrin (Illinois State) retired the Chinooks in order, the Lakeshore bats began to heat up. Zach Biermann, who drove in seven runs last night, delivered a heavy blow with a grand slam over the left field fence. In all, the Chinooks tacked on seven runs in the third to jump out to an early lead.

After the Chinook offensive outbreak, Mallards reliever Andrew Buckley (California) entered the game in the fifth with the team trailing 8-0. Buckley was extremely effective as he worked three perfect innings while striking out five. The efficient outing gave the Mallards a chance to get back in the game.

In the bottom of the seventh, Madison was able to chip into the Chinook lead. O’Brien smashed a leadoff single and Nick Schrader (Western Illinois) drew a walk two batters later. As the large crowd of 6,383 grew louder, Lakeshore pitcher Peter Bovenzi walked another pair of batters, putting Madison on the board. Thomas Smart (Oakton) was then plunked by an errant pitch to drive in another run. The rally cut the Chinooks lead to 7-2. The Mallards would add their final run of the night in the bottom of the ninth.

Madison’s lack of timely hitting allowed Lakeshore to keep a comfortable advantage. They recorded a baserunner in seven of the nine innings but couldn’t come through with enough clutch knocks. However, after tallying three runs in the final three frames against the Chinooks, the Mallards will look to build on some offensive momentum tomorrow night against the Green Bay Bullfrogs.

The Mallards welcome the Bullfrogs on Saturday night for the first time in 2017. First pitch is set for 6:35 PM at Warner Park. The game will feature The Great Dane Summertime St. Patty’s Day with an appearance by The Trinity Irish Dancers. There will also be post-game fireworks presented by Zimbrick Honda. Gates are scheduled to open at 5:00 PM.

(MallardsBaseball.com)

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.

(MallardsBaseball.com)

Mallards confirm manager Donnie Scott will return in 2017

MADISON, Wis. — As first reported by the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network in August, Donnie Scott will return as manager of the Madison Mallards for the 2017 season.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon via the team Web site:

The Madison Mallards have announced that Field Manager Donnie Scott will return for his fifth season. Scott, who led the Mallards to the playoffs in 2016, has a career record of 160-120 in Madison.

“I’m very honored and excited about returning to manage the Madison Mallards for a fifth season. The mission like, every year, is to contend for the Northwoods League Championship. The fans and the atmosphere at the Duck Pond make it so much fun to be at the ballpark! It truly is my ‘Field of Dreams’,” said Scott.

In 2016, the Mallards fell short in the first round of playoffs in a heartbreaking 8-9 loss to the Battle Creek Bombers. “I felt last season was a successful one and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum into this season. I believe the 2017 roster that has been assembled is as strong as we’ve had in my time with the Mallards,” said Scott.

Scott has a very impressive resume with an overall record of 213-146 in the Northwoods League, winning two Summer Collegiate World Series Championships, his most recent in 2013 with the Mallards. He won his first championship in 2011 with the Battle Creek Bombers, where he was also named NWL Manager of the Year. Scott will look to add his third title in 2017.

“We are excited to have Donnie back again for the 2017 season,” said Mallards General Manager Tyler Isham. “Donnie’s professional experience and gritty approach to the game make him one of the best managers in the Northwoods League. Donnie does an excellent job developing our young players, while still putting an emphasis on winning. We are excited to see what he does with the group of young men we have coming to Madison in 2017.”

Scott was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 1979 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on September 30, 1983. He spent time in the major leagues as a back up and part time catcher for the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds until he ended his MLB career in 1991.

After concluding his MLB playing career, Scott went on to manage the Rookie level Billings Mustangs (Montana) of the Pioneer League. Scott led the Mustangs to four league championships.

He returned to managing the Gulf Coast (Rookie) Reds after spending three seasons as Field Coordinator. He went on to have two tenures with Class A Dayton Dragons (Ohio), where he led the Dragons to the playoffs four out of five seasons.

Scott was named Manager of the Year in the Pioneer League in 1992 and Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball Weekly in 1994. Scott has also managed two Midwest League All-Star games and has a career record of 689-569 (.548) in the minor leagues.

Scott, 55, resides with his wife Debbie in Pinellas Park, Florida and has two children, son David and daughter Dana. In the off-season he works at NextUp Baseball Academy.

The Mallards will be hosting a live video interview with Donnie on Friday, November 4 at noon via the Mallards Facebook page. Fans can join the conversation on the Mallards Facebook page and submit their own questions for Donnie.

Expect Mallards to extend manager Donnie Scott

MADISON, Wis. — Despite another heartbreaking end to the season, the Madison Mallards can be expected to bring back manager Donnie Scott for a fifth season.

In an interview with the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network on July 20, team president Vern Stenman called Scott “our guy,” adding that he generally signs one-year contract extensions.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Stenman said. “He’s actually turned down a [MLB] coaching job within the last year so that he can stay here in Madison  because he loves what he’s doing with us…We’re excited to have him be the leader of these guys on the field.”

The Mallards finished the 2016 season with a 43-30 record, good enough for second overall in the Southern Division. They lost Monday night in the opening round of the playoffs to the Battle Creek Bombers 9-8, falling short of a four-run comeback.

It was the second straight season of heartbreak for the Mallards, who lost in the Kenosha Kingfish in walk-off fashion in the 2015 Southern League Championship game.

Scott has led the Mallards to a pair of Northwoods League Championships, most recently in 2013. Oddly enough, he won his very first championship with the Bombers in 2011 on his way to NWL Manager of the Year.

Mallards magic runs out in 9-8 playoff loss

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards season came to a close Monday night, falling to the Battle Creek Bombers 9-8 in the first round of the Northwoods League playoffs.

Left fielder Josh Stowers (Louisville) went 4-for-4 at the plate, giving Madison the early lead with a two-run home run in the second inning. But Heath Renz (UW | Whitewater) struggled on the mound, finishing with three innings of six-run baseball. He walked two batters in the loss as well.

The Bombers would grab a 4-2 lead in the third inning on a three-run blast into the Duck Blind from outfielder Dean Miller. Madison’s star outfielder and RBI leader, Zach Jarrett, tried to save it from going over the wall, but his momentum carried him out of the field of play.

Stowers’ second deep ball of the night came in the bottom half of that same inning, driving in three and recapturing the lead, 5-4. His performance stemmed from a chance he made before the game.

“In batting practice, I tried something else out and it worked, so I just took it to the game and looked for something to hit and thankfully I hit two home runs,” Stowers recalled sheepishly. “I really wasn’t trying to hit home runs. I was trying to hit the ball hard somewhere and two times it ended up over the fence.”

Battle Creek went on a tear, scoring five runs in the next three innings. Madison’s defensive errors aided the Bombers in their efforts to extend the lead. It became 9-5 in favor of Battle Creek after a ball thrown from catcher Joe Stefanki got past third baseman Nelson Maldonado in an attempt to hold a runner 90 feet from home.

“We just looked at each other and said ‘We came in here as a group and told each other we weren’t leaving without a fight,'” Stefanki said after the game. “That fight was given in the ninth [inning] and we came out with some positive attributes.”

The Mallards would commit three total errors and struggle to push runners across the plate as it got into the later innings. In the bottom of the seventh inning, however, Stowers provided a spark with yet another RBI, making it 9-6, Battle Creek.

From there, it was center fielder Cameron Frost who delivered hope for the Mallards. His two-run blast in the eighth brought Madison to within one run. After a pitching change by Battle Creek, Madison was able to load the bases in the bottom of the 9th with one out left.

But Battle Creek would secure the final out anyway and advance to face the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. Looking back on the season, Stefanki sees only positives moving forward for the Mallards.

“[Team president] Vern [Stenman] and [team owner] Steve [Schmitt] do a great job here. This place runs fabulously. We all think it’s the best team in the nation to play for in the summer with the fan base. The fans are great, the team’s great, and they recruit with a mindset of bringing a family together.”

 

Mallards’ efforts not enough in All Star Game loss

KENOSHA, Wis. — Madison Mallards outfielder Zach Jarrett struck out twice and Troy Bacon fanned two batters in a 9-5 All-Star Game loss.

Competing on the South Division roster at Simmons Field in Kenosha Tuesday night, Madison’s representatives didn’t have enough firepower to make up for a 7-0 lead in the very first inning for the North Division. The North scored on seven hits to lead things off, while the South was forced to play catch-up the rest of the night.

Jarrett, who leads Madison with 34 RBI, couldn’t get on base, striking out twice and going 0-for-3 at the plate. Bacon leads the Northwoods League in wins despite playing a reliever role. He showed his dominance with perhaps the best performance of anyone on the South Division roster, striking out two batters in 2/3 of an inning of work.

Madison returns home Thursday night at 7:05 to host the Kalamazoo Growlers.

Jarrett aids in Home Run Derby win

KENOSHA, Wis. — The South team beat the North 24-19 in the Northwoods League Home Run Derby Monday night, aided by Madison Mallards outfielder Zach Jarrett’s four bombs.

The inaugural event held at the harbor adjacent to Lake Michigan was a unique backdrop to kick off the Northwoods League All-Star break. Marty Bechina of the host Kingfish led all batters with six home runs in a format that gave each batter six outs to work with. Batters from the Northern and Southern divisions alternated “innings” hitting off a pier into the lake, with field dimensions marked off by boats provided by the Kenosha Yacht Club.

Leading the Mallards this season with 34 RBI, Jarrett will now participate in the Northwoods League All-Star Game Tuesday night at 7:05 at Simmons Field in Kenosha. The UNC | Charlotte junior was honored to earn that distinction.

“We have so many guys that could have been out there as well as me and [Troy] Bacon, but the team’s constant support is great. Coming out with these guys and playing with them every day and playing for [manager] Donnie [Scott] and [hitting coach] Trev[or] Burmeister and all the other coaches | it makes it easy.”

Pitcher Troy Bacon joins Jarrett on tonight’s Southern Division All-Star Game roster with a 6-2 record and 1.75 ERA. Despite pitching out of the bullpen, Bacon currently leads the league in wins. He adds give saves to his total.