The Madison Mallards’ hopes of a late comeback were crushed in a bitter 5-4 defeat Friday night at Warner Park, resulting in a two-game series split against the Kalamazoo Growlers.
“Man, you never want to lose a ball game like that,” Mallards pitching coach Leon Davidson said after his team’s three-game winning streak was snapped.
The Growlers drew first blood in the second inning with designated hitter Don Goodes’ sharp single into right center field off Mallards starter Eliot Turnquist for a 1-0 advantage. In the fifth, Kalamazoo’s first baseman Henry Gargus boosted the lead when he muscled an RBI single to left-center field, and the score got pumped up to 3-0 later in the inning after Turnquist’s wild pitch sent in third baseman Jake Gelof from third.
Davidson said he was proud of his team’s ensuing comeback effort.
“Those guys fought tooth and nail,” Davidson said. “Those guys came in and balled out...those guys grinded.”
In the eighth, Madison’s offense woke up for their first score when catcher Josh Caron ripped a run-scoring single into left-center field to cut it to 3-1. Down to their last strike in the game, the Mallards stunned the Growlers with pinch hitter Alex Iadisernia’s booming two-run blast to left off reliever Adam Wheaton to tie it up at 3-3 in the ninth. Iadisernia said a minor adjustment and a fortunate break proved crucial to him getting the clutch hit.
“I was pretty confident. I mean, I swung at a first pitch changeup that I swung over, but then I kind of changed my sights a little bit to be on time with it,” Iadisernia said. “Luckily, he threw me a fastball and I was able to handle it...I’m just glad it happened.”
The thrill of the comeback was short-lived, though, after RBI doubles from Growlers left fielder Nolan McCarthy and catcher Devin Burkes against Madison reliever Sam Vomhof in the 10th launched Kalamazoo back in front 5-3. Davidson said that Vomhof lacked a good variety in his throwing arsenal.
“Gotta have all your pitches working, especially coming out of the bullpen. He didn’t have a slider. He was pumping heaters,” Davidson said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you throw sometimes. If you only got one pitch, hitters time that up easy.”
Mallards left fielder Matt Scannell’s deficit-cutting single into right field in the bottom of the 10th proved insufficient in the eventual 5-4 loss. Vomhof said he was sure the team would get back into winning form.
“We’ve been hungry after this second half of the season,” Vomhof said. “Team will rebound just fine.”
The Mallards look to revive their winning ways Saturday night against the Wisconsin Woodchucks at Warner Park. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.