Mallards walk off to 6th straight victory

first_imgAdam McClain (21) hit a ninth inning grand slam to deep left field to give the Mallards their second walk-off celebration of the week and their sixth straight win.[/media-credit]Adam McClain has been hitting the ball well of late, but no hit was bigger than the one he delivered Friday night in the bottom of the ninth.Following an intentional walk to load the bases, the redshirt freshman from Memphis crushed a hanging slider out of the park to left for a walk-off grand slam.“When I hit it, I knew that it would get the job done,” McClain said. “But when I looked up it was out of the stadium. That’s not what I went to the plate to do; I just wanted to move them over, but it felt great.”McClain’s blast gave the Mallards a 9-5 victory over the St. Cloud River Bats, the team’s fifth straight home win to start the season and sixth straight overall. Reliever Kyle Heim pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win for Madison, his first of the year, while Eric Marzec took the loss for St. Cloud.Despite trailing 5-2 heading into the eighth inning Friday night, Madison manager C.J. Thieleke never doubted his team had the ability to make another late comeback.“It’s never over,” Thieleke said. “You just allow the game to happen. Sometimes, you know, you just don’t get in the way at that point in time and just allow the inning to happen. It’s been a very, very exciting home stand. The guys have been outstanding.”The late-inning heroics provided a happy ending to an otherwise unimpressive game for the Mallards. St. Cloud starter Logan Birr shut down the offense for seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits. The pitching for Madison, on the other hand, could not quite match up with Birr.Brad Allen started the game for the Mallards, but lasted just five innings while allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits. The one thing the Madison pitchers did well, though, was avoiding the big inning, allowing just one run in the first, two in the fourth, and one apiece in the fifth and seventh.“That’s what we talk about,” Thieleke said. “Let them get one here, one there and one here, and we can get back into it — especially with the way the home run has been a threat for us.”Leading the way offensively for the River Bats was first baseman Zac Richard, a junior from Xavier. Richard singled in each of his first two at-bats before crushing a solo homer to deep right field in the fifth. He later added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, giving him two RBIs on the night while batting 3-for-4 overallThe Mallards’ comeback began in the eighth inning when Brandon Wikoff led off with an infield single. Wikoff was later out on a grounder to short by Joe De Pinto, who managed to beat the throw to avoid the double play, saving an out that would prove vital later in the inning.McClain followed De Pinto with a single to left, giving the Mallards two on with only one out. Troy Channing batted next and was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Harold Riggins. The first baseman ripped a single through the hole to left, scoring two and bringing Madison within one run at 5-4. Channing, who stopped at second on the play, was pinch run for by Chris Barker.With two on again and just one out, St. Cloud made a pitching change, bringing in Marzec, the center fielder, to try to stop the Mallards’ rally. He made a big mistake, however, starting from the windup despite having a pair of runners on base.“When I saw that, my eyes got real big; I felt like a kid on Christmas day,” Barker said. “The whole time I was thinking ‘he’s got to step off with his right foot,’ and he didn’t so I just took off.”Barker and Riggins both advanced on the play, giving designated hitter Ben Long a pair of runners in scoring position with still just one out. He didn’t manage to get a hit, but he put the ball in play, hitting it right at the River Bats’ first baseman.Richard bobbled the grounder as he saw Barker streaking for the plate, leaving his only option at first for the out and allowing the Mallards to tie the game. Barker’s heads up running changed the game, according to Thieleke.“A key little play in that game was just Chris Barker noticing from second base that the guy made a mistake in going from the windup,” Thieleke said. “Without that, we wouldn’t have had a runner on third with Ben Long up there and we wouldn’t have tied it in the eighth.”The Mallards are set to finish their six-game home stand Saturday against the River Bats. Madison will look to complete its third consecutive sweep with a seventh straight win as Matt Morgan takes the hill for his second start of the season.last_img

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