Mallards lose heartbreaker in first game of playoffs
The Mallards (43-30) fell in the first round of the Northwoods League playoffs on Monday night, dropping their contest to the Battle Creek Bombers (40-33) by a score of 9-8.
Josh Stowers (Louisville) got his night started early in this contest, hitting a two-run home run over the fence in left field to open up the game. The 2-0 Madison advantage would be erased in the third inning.
After an RBI single from Nick Podkul (Notre Dame), Dean Miller (Riverside CC) took Mallards starter Heath Renz (UW-Whitewater) deep, giving the Bombers a 4-2 lead. The home run was Miller’s eighth of the summer.
Stowers would come up big yet again the home half of the third, blasting a three-run home run that nearly landed in the Warner Park parking lot. That gave Madison a 5-4 advantage and was Stowers’ first two-home run game since high school.
“I was changing things up in BP today, just trying to get my pitches,” Stowers said. “Hitting home runs is never my game. My line drives just happened to be home runs.”
The back-and-forth affair continued on in the fifth inning, with a Storm Joop (Indianapolis) long ball giving Battle Creek the 8-5 lead. Another run in the sixth would extend the advantage to 9-5, setting the stage for a wild finish.
Stowers added his sixth RBI of the evening in the seventh, singling home Cameron Frost (Washington State) to bring Madison within three. The Bombers brought in closer Jonathon Cheshire (Davenport) to relieve Scott Sency (Saginaw Valley State), who was in his sixth inning of work out of the bullpen. Cameron Frost hit a ball over the wall in left-center, cutting the Bomber lead to just a run. After a Nate Palace (Valparaiso) double a batter later, the Mallards would leave the bases loaded, falling by the final score of 9-8.
Heath Renz took his first loss of the year, as he was on the hook for six runs in his three innings of work. Scott Sency earned the win, allowing two runs and striking out seven in 5.1 innings. Though conceding three hits and a run, Jonathon Cheshire picked up the save.
The Mallards finished the season with a 43-30 record. Reliever Luke Shilling said he and his teammates are a close group.
“It means everything to have this sort of support from your team,” said Shilling. “In a lot of other places, guys don’t want to play summer ball. They just want to go home. We are all away from our families, but we came together and grinded through this 72-game season. It was the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of. I’m so extremely blessed to say that I played here.”