Rafters have Mallards’ number, complete home-and-home sweep

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The Madison Mallards’ recent struggles against Wisconsin Rapids continued Tuesday night, as the Rafters cruised to an 8-2 win at Warner Park, completing a two-game, home-and-home sweep.

This loss pushed the Mallards' record against the Rafters this season to 2-6,  and this caused Madison’s hitting coach Ryne Stanley to say that the team’s success over the years, which includes 11 straight winning seasons in Northwoods League play, has put a bull’s-eye on the team.

“Madison’s kind of...ran the league for a little while,” Stanley said. “Everyone kind of targets to beat us...this year it’s falling their way.”

The Rafters registered the first run of the game in the second when Madison starter Jacob Baldino’s wild pitch sailed over catcher Jacob Campbell’s glove and allowed Rapids first baseman Marco Castillo to cruise home from third. The Mallards responded when designated hitter Joe Hauser splashed a single into center field off Matt Osterberg to knot it up 1-1. But the Rafters fired off two-out hits into left with left fielder Blake Mann’s lead-seizing double and third baseman Josh Nicoloff’s two-RBI single in the fourth, en route to a 4-1 lead.

Baldino said he thought he did the best he could in his 3.2 innings of work.

“I gave it all I had. I always compete my hardest, and I’m proud of that,” Baldino said.

Cam Cratic scored on a wild pitch in the seventh inning to cut the Mallards’ deficit to 4-2, but the Rafters piled on two runs in each of the last two innings to sink Madison’s comeback hopes.

The Mallards marooned nine runners on the bases. Hauser said the team’s inability to capitalize on these opportunities was frustrating.

“It’s tough to win baseball games when you leave so many base runners on there,” Hauser said “We’re in good positions to score and we just didn’t get it done tonight.”

Hauser said he felt confident in the team’s process to rebound from this loss.

“We’re continually getting better,” Hauser said. “We’ve shown glimpses of pretty good stuff, so I think we’re gonna be alright.”

The Mallards look to end their two-game skid Wednesday night against the Green Bay Booyah in Ashwaubenon. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.

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