Game 28: Ducks at Skeeters

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The Ducks saw their five-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday night in Texas when the Sugar Land Skeeters rallied for 3-2 walk-off win. Not only did Long Island’s winning streak get snapped but so did their perfect record when scoring the game’s first run (they were 7-0) and when leading after seven innings (they were 12-0). It was a rare tough night for the bullpen but hopefully one that is just a blip on the radar.

Eric Niesen was called on to protect a 2-1 lead after Bobby Blevins got out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the seventh. However, Niesen allowed a leadoff single, a bunt single and threw a wild pitch, setting the stage for Travis Scott’s RBI groundout that tied the game at two. Josh Lansford bailed out Niesen by striking out Rusty Ryal to strand two in the eighth, but he was unable to keep the Skeeters off the scoreboard in the ninth. With one out, he allowed a singles to Koby Clemens and Adam Godwin, sandwiched around a walk to Dominic Ramos. Kevin Baez called upon lefty Steve Garrison to face lefty swinging Ryan Langerhans, but Sugar Land won the battle as Langerhans delivered the walk-off hit to center.

Aside from the bullpen’s struggles on Saturday, the Ducks offense failed to put the game away earlier when they had several chances to do so. Long Island left nine runners on base over the final five innings, including two in four of the five innings. The Ducks had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth and eighth innings, first and second with no outs in the seventh and first and second with two outs in the ninth but failed to score each time. That proved costly and gave the bullpen little wiggle room to work with. The Ducks offense racked up 12 hits on the evening, but they could not get the big one when they needed.

That overshadowed another terrific start by right-hander Bobby Blevins. He and Chris Smith locked up in a great pitcher’s duel early on, and Blevins ended up allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings. The third-year Duck walked just one and struck out two, leaving in line for his third win of the year. Although he failed to get that victory, the Ducks starters have continued to pitch well over the past week. We had the chance to catch up with Bobby after last night’s game:

Today, the Ducks and Skeeters play the swing game of this four-game series at Constellation Field. Long Island will send right-hander Shaun Garceau to the mound as he looks to build off of two excellent starts in a row. After three rough starts to open the season, the second-year Duck has begun to right the ship and is now 2-1 with an 8.20 ERA on the year. Check out the game notes below for a comparison between his first three starts and his last two. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Steve Hammond, who has struggled this season and is 1-3 with a 4.81 ERA over five starts. Hammond’s issue has been walks, as he has allowed 16 in 24.1 innings of work which is third-most in the league. Despite the rough start, he has actually turned in back-to-back quality starts and pitched six innings both times out.

Here are today’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Today marks the third meeting of the season between the Ducks and Skeeters and the third of 10 games between the two at Constellation Field. The series is currently tied at one. Long Island and Sugar Land have played 42 games against each other all-time, with the Skeeters holding a 27-15 lead in the series and a 17-5 advantage at Constellation Field.

Offensive Machine: Lew Ford extended his on-base streak to 20 consecutive games with two hits on Saturday. That’s the longest by a Duck this season and the longest in the Atlantic League in 2014. Ford has also now hit safely in 12 consecutive games, which is the longest by a Duck and second-longest in the Atlantic League this year. Ford is tied for the league lead in hits (40) and ranks second in batting average (.385), third in RBI (23), total bases (61), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587), and fifth in runs (22).

Cody’s Streak Continues: Cody Puckett has now reached base in 17 consecutive games after collecting a hit on Saturday. That’s the second-longest on-base streak by a Duck this year behind Ford. Puckett has earned at least one hit in 15 of those 17 games.

Good Things Come in Pairs: Ford, Fehlandt Lentini, Adam Bailey and Joash Brodin each had two hits on Saturday. Ford is now tied with Cody Puckett for the team-lead with eight two-hit games and leads the Flock with 12 multi-hit contests. Lentini earned his eighth multi-hit contest, Brodin picked up his seventh multi-hit game and Bailey collected his sixth.

Pitching Leads the Way: With seven innings on one-run baseball on Saturday, Bobby Blevins continued a streak of terrific starting pitching by the Ducks. During their last six games, the starters are a combined 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA. In 41 innings, they’ve allowed just eight runs (six earned) on 35 hits and 10 walks with 25 strikeouts. Despite allowing two runs on Saturday, the bullpen has a 1.33 ERA during the six games. In 20.1 innings, they’ve yielded eight hits and four walks while striking out 17.

Back to Form: After a slow start to the year, Shaun Garceau has turned things around in his last two starts, earning wins in both. The righty has allowed just three runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA) in those two starts, and has given up just nine hits and two walks while striking out 10. In his first three starts, Garceau yielded 19 runs in 11.1 innings (15.09 ERA), 24 hits and five walks with nine strikeouts.

On the Air: Today’s game will be broadcast live on Long Island’s home for news, traffic and weather, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Live streaming audio will be available online by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play. Fans can also watch live streaming video of the game online via ESPN 3 by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, here are this afternoon’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#22 Joash Brodin – DH
#50 Randy Ruiz – 1B
#15 Jon Myers – LF
#30 Sergio Miranda – SS
#23 Jan Vazquez – C
#5   Chris McClendon – 3B

#28 Shaun Garceau – RHP

Skeeters
#41 Adam Godwin – CF
#29 Ryan Langerhans – LF
#5   Chase Lambin – 2B
#16 Travis Scott – C
#24 Delwyn Young – DH
#21 Nick Stavinoha – 1B
#4   Dominic Ramos – SS
#7   Brandon Wood – 3B
#2   Michael Rockett – RF

#18 Steve Hammond – LHP

Keep it here for updates from Constellation Field all afternoon long.

UPDATE (2:21): Ducks strike for two runs in the first! A wild pitch by Steve Hammond an error by Brandon Wood put the Ducks ahead 2-0!

UPDATE (2:27): Great start for Shaun Garceau as he strikes out the side in the bottom of the first!

UPDATE (3:01): The Ducks double their lead in the third when two runs score on Brandon Wood’s second error of the game. 4-0 Long Island in front!

UPDATE (3:24): Garceau works around an error and hit in the fourth to leave two on the basepaths. Ducks still lead it 4-0 after four innings.

UPDATE (3:59): Garceau gets Delwyn Young to fly out to right, stranding two in the sixth. The righty has allowed just three hits and one walk today.

UPDATE (4:30): Garceau works out of another jam in the eighth by inducing a double play grounder from Chase Lambin! Eight scoreless innings for the righty!

UPDATE (4:40): Ducks add some insurance in the ninth with a solo homer by Lew Ford! 5-0 Flock as Garceau tries for the complete game shutout!

UPDATE (4:54): Garceau finishes it off! 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 131 pitches, 88 strikes! Ducks earn their second shutout of the series with a 5-0 win!

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Posted on May 25, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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