The Madison Mallards’ erratic pitching drowned out center fielder Cam Cratic’s five hit and four RBI night in a 10-9 home loss against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Wednesday night at Warner Park.
Cratic said the much-needed rest day on Tuesday helped his team a lot. Prior to that, the Mallards had played 15 games in as many days to start the Northwoods League season.
“[We] came in with a clean slate just trying to see the ball first and, you know, let the Baseball Gods take over,” Cratic said.
Despite the reset, Mallards starting pitcher Andrew Neu began to sink in the first after Rafters designated hitter Jacob Hinderleider steered his team to a 1-0 advantage on a two-out RBI single into right field. In the next inning, Wisconsin Rapids first baseman Hank Zeisler splashed a two-out, two-RBI single same side to push it to 3-0.
Neu struggled with his command early on, surrendering four walks.
“I don’t think my mechanics were on,” Neu said. “When I came out, I looked a little herky-jerky.”
After a two-out single by Mallards third baseman Kyle Bork into right field in the second, Cratic came to the rescue. He sent one into the heavens with a booming blast off starter Caden Favors to cut the score to 3-2.
“It...just ran in on me...just a reactionary swing, and I knew that the wind wasn’t going to keep that one in, so I kind of enjoyed it just for a little bit,” Cratic said.
The Rafters shortly brought the Mallards back to Earth in the fourth with a five-run surge powered by four hits, three walks, and a sac-fly muscled off Neu and reliever Ryan Cabarcas to command the game 8-2. After Mallards designated hitter Joe Hauser chipped away at the mountain of a lead in the bottom of the inning with an RBI sac-fly into shallow right field against Daniel Frake to make it 8-3, Rafters left fielder Marco Castillo hacked a single off Jared Fong into left field in the fifth to sustain the six-run lead.
Mallards pitching coach Leon Davidson said his team is going to be working on handling the five errors and 11 walks that hurt his team Wednesday.
“Flush it when those mistakes happen...and get back on the mound,” Davidson said.
Madison’s Herculean comeback attempt began in a three-run fifth fueled by a trio of clutch RBI hits from left fielder Alex Iadisernia’s double, right fielder Bryant Shellenbarger’s triple, and Cratic’s single. In the eighth, Cratic once again worked his magic with a lead-off single against Andrew Duran to ignite a two-run inning that pulled the Mallards within just one run. After Rafters left fielder Marco Castillo shoved it back to a two-run lead with an RBI sac-fly in the ninth, Cratic’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning was the Mallards final grasp in their failed comeback attempt.
Cratic said he wasn’t disheartened by the loss.
“It’s a long season, so there’s really no frustration. You just got to come back tomorrow with a clean, good attitude and just be ready to win,” Cratic said.
The Mallards next set their sights on the Wisconsin Woodchucks in Wausau at 6:35 p.m. Thursday night