Harold Riggins did not wait long Wednesday night to let everyone know he was back in the Mallards’ starting lineup.
With a runner on in the second, the first baseman drove a first pitch fastball from Waterloo starter Chris Pack over the wall in right center to give his team a 2-0 lead.
“He just put it right where I wanted it,” Riggins said of Pack. “It was an elevated fastball, away like belt high and I just saw it and crushed it. It felt pretty good for my first swing coming back.”
Riggins was not done, singling twice in the game as well to finish 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. He was not the only one hitting well in the game either, as Madison posted 12 runs on 15 hits en route to a 12-0 victory over Waterloo.
His first home run proved to be enough, however, as the Mallards got a brilliant pitching performance from starter Cody Winiarski. The righty threw seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits and striking out eight to earn his third win of the season and lower his ERA to 1.84.
“It was nice; double digit runs always seem to make it easier as a pitcher,” Winiarski said. “I felt like I was in control the whole time. It seems the last couple times I’ve pitched at home our guys have put up double digit numbers and it just makes it easy for me.”
Winiarski’s performance along with strong defense and timely hitting made for a much different game than the previous night.
After dropping an ugly 6-3 game Tuesday, the Mallards came back Wednesday with a lot more energy and focus on getting the job done against the Bucks.
“I think the guys were to the point where they were thinking ‘let’s put our best foot forward,'” manager C.J. Thieleke said. “I felt from the start of the day that we were really focused and most of the time that carries over to the game.”
Riggins got things started with his home run and the rest of the team followed suit. Just two batters after his two-run blast, Troy Channing crushed a ball out to left with a runner on to make it 4-0 with none out in the second.
The Mallards kept the inning going, eventually scoring one more run and loading the bases before Riggins grounded out to end the inning.
Even with a 5-0 lead, Thieleke’s squad was not satisfied, however, as they added a run in the fourth, four more in the fifth, one more in the sixth and another in the eighth to make it 12-0.
“It’s always good to keep pounding a team,” Riggins said. “It gives other hitters confidence and makes the pitcher’s job that much easier. Putting up more runs instead of just cruising always makes for a better result in the end.”
Shortstop Joe DePinto was a major part of keeping things going offensively, driving in three runs on a double down the line in left as a part of the four-run fifth inning.
Another hitter that hit well on the night was second baseman Mark Ginther, who doubled twice and scored three runs while going 3-for-4 on the night.
Ginther also combined with third baseman J.R. Graham in the fifth inning on a double play that helped Winiarski escape his toughest inning of the night.
“That double play was huge,” Winiarski said. “They had guys on first and second, and I was able to get the batter to roll over for the grounder. The first time up he (Troy White) hit the ball hard right up the middle for the second hit of the game, but this time I got him on a slider to roll over to third base for the double play.”
The Bucks got two on again with one out in the sixth, but Winiarski retired the next two batters to get out of the inning. Waterloo got just one hit — a double in the ninth off reliever Jacob Esch — in the game’s final three innings.
With the win, Madison improves to 14-6 and snaps its two-game losing streak while avoiding its first sweep of the season and moving into a first place tie with the Eau Claire Express. Waterloo drops to 6-14 and remains in last place in the South Division of the Northwoods League.