A gritty mix of manufactured offense and timely hits fueled the Madison Mallards in a back-and-forth 5-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Warner Park that earned them a two-game series split against the Wisconsin Woodchucks.
“The Woodchucks put up a good fight. They always do. It’s always gonna be a good baseball game when we’re playing them,” Mallards shortstop Michael Fuhrman said.
After the teams exchanged sacrifice flies in the first inning, Madison captured the lead the ugly way in the third when second baseman Zach Storbakken’s double-play groundout scored catcher Drake Baldwin from third. However, the score was quickly knotted again in the fourth after Mallards third baseman Kyle Bork’s errant throw to first propelled Woodchucks designated hitter Ryan Sepede to the plate all the way from second.
Fuhrman said he’s fine with the team getting a majority of their RBIs in unconventional ways if necessary.
“Anything goes on a baseball field,” Fuhrman said.
Fuhrman shoved his team back in front in the fifth with a sac-fly he skied off reliever Dominc Murgo into right center field to lead 3-2. The Woodchucks parried immediately in the sixth with first baseman Gino Groover’s game-tying RBI groundout and center fielder Kevin Kilpatrick’s lead-seizing single to left field off Sam Vomhof, but that lead was short-lived, as Shellenbarger scorched a ground-rule double against Jace Baumann evened the score even at four apiece.
Baldwin said that both team’s hitters were good at adapting to the throws they faced.
“After pitchers stayed in for a few innings, people...started to see spin and face them twice and you could start to barrel up some balls,” Baldwin said.
The final blow was delivered by Baldwin, who singled into left-center field to drive home the winning run for the 5-4 victory. Baldwin said his clutch hit was business as usual for him.
“I’ve been playing baseball my whole life. It's just...another at bat,” Baldwin said. “Just take it like that and I got the job done.”
Shellenbarger said that this victory over the Woodchucks, who came into this game with the fourth-best winning percentage in the Northwoods League, shows that the team is really coming together.
“We’re going to keep going,” Shellenbarger said. “I think we’re building us to be the best we can [be].”
The Mallards look to squash the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders at Herr-Baker Field on Monday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 1:35 p.m.