Game 22: Ducks vs. Blue Crabs

image003(photo courtesy of George Faella, Newsday)

In each of the last three seasons, the Ducks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have matched up in the Liberty Division Championship Series. It was on this field at Bethpage Ballpark where the Ducks triumphed over the Blue Crabs in Game Five during the 2012 LDCS en route to their first Atlantic League title since 2004. In fact, Long Island has won four three consecutive postseason games over Southern Maryland in Central Islip. Tonight, while the playoff atmosphere might not be evident at Bethpage Ballpark, these are still two teams who are eager for a series win.

The Ducks enter this four-game set with the Blue Crabs, who are no longer in the Liberty Division after swapping with Somerset this offseason, off a tough series loss at home to the Camden Riversharks. After splitting a doubleheader on Saturday thanks to a dramatic three-run homer from Joash Brodin, Camden plated eight runs (six earned) against John Brownell on Sunday en route to a 10-6 victory in the rubber game. Lost in the game were outstanding performances by Lew Ford, Joash Brodin and Casey Barnes.

Ford turned in another three-hit games, his third of the year, and a second five-hit game of 2014, highlighted by a fourth inning grand slam off Camden starter Jay Voss. Brodin picked up four hits in his five at-bats and is beginning to look like the player that earned an All-Star selection in 2013 again. In his last 10 games, the third-year Duck is batting .351 (13-for-37) with three homers, nine RBI and six runs scored. Barnes tossed three innings of scoreless relief after Brownell and Shaun Garceau pitched the first six innings. The righty allowed just one hit and no walks while striking out four.

CLICK HERE for a recap from Sunday’s series finale with audio highlights and postgame interviews with Kevin Baez and Brownell.

Tonight, the Ducks turn to right-handed starter Bobby Blevins to get back in the win column. After a tough start at the Duck pond against Lancaster on May 8, Blevins rebounded nicely with six innings of three-run ball at Bridgeport on Wednesday. He walked two and struck out seven but took a no-decision in Long Island’s 4-3 loss in 13 innings. On the year, the Briarcliff, New York native is 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA in four starts. He’ll be opposed by righty Brian Baker who is looking for his first victory of 2014. In four starts, the Brooklyn native has gone 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA, striking out 11 and walking eight in 15.2 innings. His last outing came on Wednesday against the Sugar Land Skeeters, and despite allowing just one run on two hits in six innings, he was saddled with the loss in a 1-0 defeat.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Blue Crabs: Today marks the third meeting of the season between the Ducks and Blue Crabs and the first of 10 meetings at Bethpage Ballpark in 2014. The Ducks lead the season series 2-0. Long Island and Southern Maryland have played 119 regular season games against each other all-time, with the Blue Crabs holding a 67-52 advantage in the series and a 33-30 edge in Central Islip.

Grand Fashion: Lew Ford’s grand slam in the fourth inning on Sunday was his third home run of the season and the Ducks first grand slam of 2014. Long Island totaled three grand slams in 2013 (Danny Perales, Bill Hall and Joash Brodin). The Ducks have now totaled 13 homers on the year.

Offensive Machine: Ford finished Sunday’s game with three hits to earn his team-leading ninth multi-hit game of 2014. He also drove in five runs for the second time this season after doing so in game one of a doubleheader at Southern Maryland on May 1. Ford has now reached base safely in 14 consecutive games. That’s the longest on-base streak by a Duck this year, the longest active streak in the Atlantic League and the second-longest in the league this season (15, Chad Tracy, York).

Cody Keeps Hitting: Cody Puckett picked up a base hit on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to a Ducks season-high 11 games. The streak is the second-longest hitting streak in the Atlantic League this year (13, Johan Limonta, York). During the streak, Puckett is batting .370 (17-for-47) with two doubles, six RBI and one run. He’s raised his batting average from .237 to .309 during the 11 games.

Brodin’s Heating Up: Joash Brodin earned his first four-hit game of the year on Sunday. It was the third four-hit game for the Ducks this season (Lew Ford and Fehlandt Lentini). Brodin has now hit safely in seven of his last nine games, raising his batting average from .135 to .238 in the process (13-for-32). In those nine games, Brodin has hit three home runs, scored six runs and driven in nine.

Countdown to 6 Million: Sunday’s crowd of 5,103 at Bethpage Ballpark increased the all-time attendance at the Duck Pond to 5,983,474, which is an Atlantic League record. Long Island is now just 16,526 fans away from reaching the magical 6 million fan mark. The Ducks also honored long-time season ticket holder Sandy Van Essendelft before the game. She was selected as the team representative to celebrate the Atlantic League welcoming its 30 millionth fan this weekend.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on the Ducks official YouTube channel, with live streaming video and audio available by CLICKING HERE. Chris King will call the play-by-play.

Last but not least, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#33 Ryan Strieby – DH
#27 Keith Castillo – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#18 Bobby Blevins – RHP

Blue Crabs
#11 Brian Barton – LF
#1   Amadeo Zazueta – SS
#15 Cyle Hankerd – RF
#44 Craig Ziegler – DH
#38 Jose Julio-Ruiz – 1B
#4   Dave Sappelt – CF
#7   Jared McDonald – 3B
#19 Johnny Bowden – C
#8   Jon Dziomba – 2B

#23 Brian Baker – RHP

We’ll be posting updates throughout the course of the evening here at the Duck Pond. Keep refreshing for updates as the Ducks look to get back in the win column.

UPDATE (7:10): Southern Maryland takes the early lead in the top of the second 1-0 Blue Crabs 

UPDATE (7:21): Ducks tie it in the bottom of the second on an RBI infield single from Ryan Strieby! All tied at 1-1 through two innings.

UPDATE (7:37): With a single in the third inning, Lew Ford extended his on-base streak to 15 games, tied for the longest in the Atlantic League this season!

UPDATE (7:46): Bobby Blevins works out a first-and-third, no-out situation in the fourth with a strikeout and double play to keep the game tied at one.

UPDATE (7:59): Three runs for the Ducks in the fourth! RBI single by Keith Castillo & a two-run single by Brendan Harris gives the Flock a 4-1 lead!

UPDATE (8:51): The Ducks add a run in the bottom of the seventh on sacrifice fly from Adam Bailey! 5-1 Flock, heading to the top of the eighth inning!

UPDATE (9:04): Southern Maryland gets back-to-back solo home runs from Craig Ziegler and Jose Julio-Ruiz to trip the Ducks lead to 5-3, bottom eighth.

UPDATE (9:13): Top of the ninth, Ducks lead the Blue Crabs 5-3. Leo Rosales on, looking for his Atlantic League leading ninth save of the season!

UPDATE (9:21): BALLGAME!! Ducks take it over the Blue Crabs 5-3! with second win of the year, allowing three runs over season-high eight innings!

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Posted on May 19, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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