Game 107: Ducks vs. Patriots

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The Long Island Ducks late resurgence has put the team back in the thick of playoff contention in the Atlantic League. After winning their last three games, and five of the last six, the Ducks are now tied with the Lancaster Barnstormers for what would be the final Wild Card spot if the season were to end today. Of course, there are a lot of variables left to play out with roughly one month left in the season, such as who winds up winning the second half in each division, but Long Island has turned its season around to remain in contention. However, the Barnstormers own the tiebreak over the Ducks this year, so the Flock would need to finish one-game better than the ‘Stormers to leapfrog them into the playoffs. As it currently stands, the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Barnstormers would be the two Wild Card teams, with the Somerset Patriots and York Revolution having already locked up their playoff spots.

Looking ahead, the next time that the Ducks play the Barnstormers falls during the last homestand of the regular season (Sept. 16-18). The Faithful Flock can circle those dates, but there are still plenty of important games left to be played before that series, including this next stretch of games against the Patriots. Long Island is now only six games behind Somerset for first place in the Liberty Division after taking last night’s ballgame 7-4.  The two teams still have eight games to play against each other including today’s game. All of eight of those games will be played over the next 12 days.

Last night, the Flock won their third-straight game thanks to a combination of timely hitting and strong pitching. Long Island jumped ahead early thanks to a five-run bottom of the third, highlighted by a Brandon Bantz grand slam. The Ducks held the lead throughout the remainder of the game, despite the Patriots twice trimming the deficit to three runs. In the end, it was four consecutive scoreless innings by Ducks relief pitchers which preserved the lead and gave Shaun Garceau his 11th win of the season.

CLICK HERE to read a full recap from Saturday’s game, complete with audio highlights and and postgame comments from Kevin Baez, Bantz and David Kopp.

Looking for their first of the Patriots this season, the Ducks will send Mitch Talbot to the mound for his eight appearance (sixth start). Talbot enters tonight’s game 2-1 this season with a 3.00 ERA and 20 strikeouts against seven walks in 27 innings of work. Over his last three starts, the former big-leaguer has allowed one run in his last 15 innings pitched, including three scoreless his last time out against Sugar Land. Tonight will be the righty’s first career start against Somerset.

The Patriots will send Matt Zielinski to the hill for his 21st appearance (18th start) of this year. The southpaw is 8-6 this season with a 3.35 ERA and 74 strikeouts against 27 walks in 115 and one-third innings of work. This first-year Patriot has dropped his last two starts since tossing six scoreless against the Barnstormers on July 30th in a winning effort. That game is the lone win for Zielinski since the end of June. In two appearances (one start) against the Flock this year, Zielinski is 1-0, having allowed three runs in nine and one-third innings pitched (2.89) ERA.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Patriots: Today marks the 13th meeting of the season between the Ducks and Patriots and sixth of 10 games between them on Long Island. The series is tied at six, with the Ducks leading 3-2 at home. Long Island and Somerset have played 277 games against each other all-time, with the Patriots holding a slim 140-137 lead. However, the Ducks have a 74-67 edge at Bethpage Ballpark.

Starter Success: Ducks starting pitchers are now 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA (15 earned runs in 75 and two-thirds innings) over their last 11 games after Garceau yielded four runs over five innings on Saturday. In that span, they’ve allowed 63 hits and 14 walks while striking out 47 batters. Dating back to August 2, the starters are 8-2 with a 1.84 ERA, allowing 20 earned runs in 97 and two-thirds innings.

Go Go Garceau: Shaun Garceau earned his 11th win of the season on Saturday. The second-year Duck has now won each of his last three starts and is now tied with Chris Schwinden of Lancaster for second in the Atlantic League in wins (John Brownell, 12). During that span, Garceau has allowed six runs over 18 innings (3.00 ERA) and yielded 18 hits and four walks while striking out 14.

Bantz Blasts Another Homer: Brandon Bantz’s grand slam on Saturday was his fourth homer of the season and second in as many nights. It was his first grand slam of 2014 and seventh for the Ducks. It marked the second grand slam at Bethpage Ballpark this year (Lew Ford, May 18 vs. Camden).

Can’t Stop Crawford: Evan Crawford recorded two more hits on Saturday to continue his strong start with the Ducks. It was his third consecutive multi-hit game after he earned two hits on Friday and three on Thursday. The 26-year-old is 10-for-17 with two doubles, one RBI, four runs and four stolen bases in his first six games with the Ducks. Crawford has earned at least one hit in each of the six games.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: Four Ducks relief pitchers combined to hold Somerset scoreless over the final four innings of Saturday’s game, allowing just two hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Ducks relievers have now tossed nine consecutive scoreless innings since the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game against Sugar Land. In their last six games, Ducks relievers have combined to allow two runs over 14 innings (1.29 ERA) on 10 hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts.

Faithful Flock: Saturday’s crowd of 6,461 was the Ducks’ 10th past-capacity crowd of the season. Long Island has now hosted 637 sold out crowds all-time, an Atlantic League record.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast with live streaming video and audio on the Ducks official YouTube channel. Fans can follow all the action by CLICKING HERE. The game can also be heard on Long Island’s home for news, traffic and weather, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#6    Bill Hall – DH
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#14 Brandon Bantz – C
#29 Evan Crawford – LF
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#32 Mitch Talbot – RHP

Patriots
#13 Jeff Dominguez – 2B
#10 Brian Barden – 1B
#35 Daryle Ward – DH
#15  Corey Smith – 3B
#2    Luis Montanez – RF
#5    Ty Wright – LF
#8    Cory Harrilchak – CF
#37 Damaso Espino – C
#1     Scott Kelly – SS

#31  Matt Zielinski – LHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game at Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks look to sweep the Patriots!

UPDATE (5:20): TOP 1: Somerset takes a 2-0 lead on a two-out, two-run single from Luis Montanez.

UPDATE (6:02): BOT 3: DUCKS LEAD! RBI singles from Fehlandt Lentini, Lew Ford & Brandon Bantz, with RBI groundout from Brendan Harris has the Flock up 4-2!

UPDATE (6:26): TOP 5: Somerset trims the deficit to 4-3 on a solo home run from Brian Barden

UPDATE (6:44): BOT 5: RBI singles from Cody Puckett and Evan Crawford extend the Ducks lead to 6-3!!

UPDATE (7:46): BOT 8: A Joash Brodin solo home run, along with a Lew Ford RBI single has extended the Ducks lead to 8-3!

UPDATE (7:55): BALLGAME!! The Ducks complete the sweep of the Patriots with an 8-3 victory! Four straight wins, & six of the last seven, for the Flock!

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Posted on August 17, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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