The season series between the Long Island Ducks and the Somerset Patriots has been highlighted by streaks. At no point during the series, which has now seen 19 of its 20 games, has either team not won at least two straight games after ending the other team’s respective streak. The Ducks and Patriots exchanged stretches of two straight wins for the first 10 games of the series, before Long Island swept Somerset in a three-game series at Bethpage Ballpark two weekends ago. The Flock then made it four straight with a win last Thursday before the Pats took the final three games of that four-game set. Now, its the Ducks that are on the upswing, having taken the first two games of the final three-game series at TD Bank Ballpark between the two teams.
Tonight’s game has plenty of importance. A Long Island win would not only complete the sweep and bring the Ducks within four games of first place in the Liberty Division, but it would also ensure the Flock holding the tiebreaker over the Patriots for the season. Long Island now holds a 10-9 season series advantage, while they have already clinched the second half advantage, leading this half’s series six-to-three. That said, if the Ducks were to finish tied in first with the Patriots, they would automatically get into the postseason because Somerset has already clinched their playoff berth by winning the first half. A Ducks sweep tonight would go a long way in helping draw closer to the first-place Pats.
Long Island is in this position thanks to outscoring Somerset by an aggregate of 13-2 over the first two games of this series. Last night, a combination of timely hitting early in the game and shutdown relief pitching directly contributed to the 6-1 win. Two runs in the first on a RBI double from Lew Ford and a sac fly from Bill Hall, along with a Brandon Bantz RBI triple in the second and a Bantz RBI infield single in the third provided more than enough offense for the Flock. After starting pitcher Doug Arguello tossed four innings of one-run ball in his first start of the season, five different relief pitchers (Bob Zimmermann, Brett Lorin, Tommy Organ, Eric Niesen and David Kopp) combined to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard for the final five innings of the ballgame. A two-run single from Adam Bailey in the ninth later added insurance runs for the Ducks.
CLICK HERE to read a full recap from Wednesday, complete with the box score and audio highlights.
Tonight, John Brownell takes the mound for Long Island for his league-leading 25th start of the year. The third-year Duck enters tonight’s ballgame 12-7 on the year with a 3.72 earned run average. Brownell is currently tied with teammate Shaun Garceau and Lancaster’s Chris Schwinden for the Atlantic League lead in wins with 12. In addition, the righty leads the league in complete games (5) and innings pitched (166.2), while ranking second in strikeouts (116). That said, Brownell is 0-2 in his last three starts since he tossed a complete game shutout against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on August 8. In two starts against Somerset this year, the reining Atlantic League Championship Series MVP is 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA (seven earned runs over 12 and one-third innings) with 12 strikeouts against no walks.
Patriots starter Matt Zielinksi will work against Brownell tonight, looking to prevent the Ducks sweep. In 22 appearances (19 starts) this year, the first-year Patriot is 9-7 with a 3.49 ERA and 76 strikeouts against 30 walks in 126 and one-third innings pitched. Similar to David Harden last night, Zielinski will be making his third consecutive start against Long Island tonight. Contrary to Harden, however, Zielinksi has had a good deal of success against the Flock this year. In four appearances (three starts), the southpaw is 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA against Long Island. That includes allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings in his last start, which came last Friday at Bethpage Ballpark.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight marks the 20th and final meeting of the season between the Ducks and Patriots and final game between them in Bridgewater, N.J.. The Ducks currently lead the season series 10-9 and hold a 5-4 advantage at TD Bank Ballpark. Long Island and Somerset have played 284 games against each other all-time, with the Patriots holding a slim 143-141 lead and a 73-65 lead in New Jersey.
Ford’s On Fire: Lew Ford extended his hitting streak to 12 consecutive games with his four-hit performance on Wednesday. It marked Ford’s second four-hit game over the hitting streak, and team-leading fifth of the season. During the streak, he is batting .429 (21-for-49) with one home run, seven doubles, 10 RBI and 14 runs scored. Ford has scored a run in nine of the 12 games and has reached base safely in 15 of his last 16 games. The former big leaguer is now tied for second in the Atlantic League with 78 RBI (Bailey, Long Island and Eric Patterson, York).
Bailey Continues to Bash: With two hits on Wednesday, Adam Bailey has now had two hits in each of his last four games. During this stretch, the second-year Duck is batting .500 (8-for-16) with two home runs, six RBI and three runs scored. In addition, Bailey has drawn a walk in each game as well. The Colorado native ranks tied for third in the league in home runs with 17 (Delwyn Young, Sugar Land), second in RBI (78) and ninth in batting (.303).
Welcome Back, Bantz: In his return to the lineup, Brandon Bantz went 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs batted in on Wednesday. In six games against Somerset this year, the former big leaguer has launched two home runs and has driven in nine runs.
Oh What a Relief They Are: Five different relief pitchers combined to toss five scoreless innings against the Patriots on Wednesday. Ducks relievers have now gone six consecutive innings without allowing a run in this series. David Kopp has now gone six straight appearances without allowing a run, and has struck out 28 batters against just nine walks in 26 and one-third innings this year.
On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast with live streaming audio on the Ducks official YouTube channel. Fans can follow all the action by CLICKING HERE. Marc Schwartz will call the play-by-play.
Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – CF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#2 Cody Puckett – 2B
#29 Evan Crawford – RF
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#23 Jan Vazquez – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#7 John Brownell – RHP
#13 Jeff Dominguez – DH
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#5 Ty Wright – RF
#15 Corey Smith – 3B
#2 Luis Montanez – CF
#10 Brian Barden – 1B
#26 Kevin Kotch – C
#12 Edwin Maysonet – SS
#1 Scott Kelly – 2B
#31 Matt Zielinski – LHP
Keep it here for updates throughout the game at TD Bank Ballpark as the Ducks look to complete the sweep over the Patriots!
UPDATE (7:40): BOT 1: Patriots plates three runs on RBI singles from Wright and Montanez, along with a RBI double from Smith. Somerset leads 3-0.
UPDATE (8:27): TOP 4: Ducks trim the Patriots lead to 3-1 on a RBI groundout from Joash Brodin. Pats lead 3-1.
UPDATE (9:25): TOP 7: TIE GAME! A RBI double from Dan Lyons, who later scores from third base on a wild pitch, has evened up the ballgame at three!
UPDATE (9:57): BOT 8: A sacrifice fly from Damaso Espino puts the Patriots back in front 4-3. Lyons, Lentini and Harris due for the Flock in the ninth!
UPDATE (10:08): FINAL: Somerset defeats the Ducks 4-3. Long Island now returns home for a four-game series against the Camden Riversharks tomorrow night.