Kilkenny sharp in debut as Mallards down Growlers

Thousands of dollars’ worth of vandalism reported at Mallards stadium

Mitchell Kilkenny looked sharp in his season debut, as he pitched five strong innings in the Madison Mallards 4-2 win over the Kalamazoo Growlers.

Madison was able to score four runs on only five hits, while strong defensive play from the Mallards thwarted a lot of chances by the Growlers.

Madison jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to an error that brought home an unearned run. With a leadoff double and a wild pitch, Nico Hoerner was standing at third with no outs, allowing a Matt McCann grounder to score him.

In the fourth inning, Zach Jarrett hammered a 1-0 fastball to left field, hitting a car as he rounded the bases. It was the North Carolina native’s first home run at the Duck Pond and third of the season. He was excited to finally hit a long ball in front of the home crowd.

“The fans here show us love no matter what,” said Jarrett. “But it felt good to hit one out at the Duck Pond.”

Kilkenny seemed to have everything working in his first start as a Mallard, allowing six hits and striking out four in his outing while walking none in route to the win. Standout defensive plays by Hoerner would allow Kilkenny to breathe easy, including a sliding catch at the foul line and a bullet of a throw to nail a runner at third base.  Kilkenny would hand the ball to his bullpen after the fifth, but was able to reflect on the atmosphere that the Duck Pond will offer him for the rest of the summer.

“It felt like playing in the minors with all of the fun entertainment going on,” said Kilkenny. “The fans were awesome.”

Alex Smith would come in to pitch the sixth, allowing two runs after recording the first two outs of the inning on just five pitches. Luke Shilling would replace him with two outs, striking out the last batter on a beautifully painted pitch on the outside half. Shilling would return in the seventh to work a scoreless inning, preserving the 3-2 lead.

Madison was able to capitalize on more defensive miscues by Kalamazoo in their half of the seventh, as Hoerner was able to score from second on a throwing error trying to get the runner at first.

Logan Sherer pitched a scoreless eighth to hold on to a 4-2 lead, giving the ball to Troy Bacon to earn the save. Bacon was able to bounce back from his outing a night ago, in which he took the loss, to record his third save of 2016.

Grant Wolfram took the loss, allowing two earned runs in five innings, while walking one in the process. He only allowed four hits but was put in tough situations by his defense, as the Growlers recorded two errors. He struck out seven batters on 88 pitches.

The Mallards will return to the Duck Pond Thursday to take on the Wisconsin Woodchucks at 7:05 pm.