A trio of clutch performances from left fielder J.T. Benson, shortstop Charlie Szykowny and starting pitcher Eliot Turnquist fueled a commanding 5-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Warner Park, giving the Madison Mallards a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Great Lakes West Divisional Series against the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders.
Benson said the win just further displayed their group-first identity.
“We’re the same team we have been,” Benson said. “We’re just gonna go out there and play for each other.”
After a lead-off single and a pair of four pitch walks loaded the bases in the first, Benson rainbowed a two-RBI single into left field over the leaping Dock Spiders shortstop Alberto Rios. Later in the inning, Szykowny tacked on another run with a run-scoring single wacked into right field to give Madison an early 3-0 lead. Szykowny said that what separated the two teams' offenses was their differences in how relaxed they were.
“We’re coming out... trying to have fun and stay loose. I think they were all tight...that’s why their bats weren’t hot,” Szykowny said.
Boasting a 4-0 lead in the fifth, Benson led off the inning with a single before stealing second and third during the next two at-bats. Szykowny then drove him in with a sac-fly lined into left field to give Madison their definitive 5-0 lead.
“You take any RBI you can get when you can get’em,” Szykowny said. “It felt good.”
Turnquist safeguarded the lead, giving up only three hits in a complete game on 93 pitches. He said it was huge to give the team’s relievers some rest ahead of a tough upcoming playoff stretch.
“It’s big that we saved the pen. We gotta lotta good arms that didn’t have to throw today,” Turnquist said. “It’s gonna be do-or-die the rest of the year.”
Szykowny said that the team will be able finish off the series in Fond du Lac if they bring with them the momentum they’ve been building up at home.
“If we just carry the same energy we’ve had the last two weeks here, we’ll be just fine on the road,” Szykowny said.
The Mallards look to win the best-of-three Great Lakes West Divisional Series against the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders Monday night at Herr-Baker Field. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.