Game 123: Ducks at Skeeters

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With the season winding down and a pair of playoff spots up for grabs, every win is a big one at this stage of the year. However, Tuesday night’s victory for the Ducks in Sugar Land, Texas might have been their biggest of the season to this point. Trailing 3-1 after eight innings, it appeared as though Long Island’s four-game winning streak would come to an end. However, the Ducks offense staged one of their biggest rallies of the season, scoring four runs off of Skeeters closer Gary Majewski to take a 5-3 lead and pull of a stunning victory in the series opener.

Through the first eight innings, it appeared as though missed opportunities were going to hurt the Ducks once again. Long Island had left 11 runners on base to that point. They had the bases loaded with two outs in the first and two on with one out in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings, but they had failed to score each time. However, with one out in the ninth, Brendan Harris, Lew Ford and Adam Bailey picked up consecutive singles to drive in a run and put runners at the corners. Brandon Bantz then popped out to second, leaving the Ducks just one out from a tough loss. Then, newcomer C.J. Retherford delivered a first pitch, game-tying single to right, and Cody Puckett followed with the game winning two-run double to right-center. In need of big hits to avoid a frustrating defeat, Long Island came through.

On the mound, John Brownell turned in another strong effort. Despite allowing nine hits, he battled through eight innings and needed just 107 pitches to get through them. He ran into trouble in the second, allowing two singles and a sac fly, and the fifth, giving up three consecutive hits, including a two-run single by Adam Godwin. However, he retired 10 straight after Godwin gave the Skeeters a 3-1 lead and then retired Chase Lambin after allowing back-to-back singles with two outs in the eighth. That out proved to be a big one after the Ducks rallied for four in the ninth. Long Island’s rally gave Brownell his 13th win of the season and provided David Kopp the opportunity to earn his fifth save of the year, which he did by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Monday’s win was made even more meaningful when the Somerset Patriots were swept in a doubleheader by the Lancaster Barnstormers. Thanks to the Ducks winning seven of their last eight and Somerset dropping seven of their last nine, the Ducks have closed to within a game and a half of the Patriots in the second half Liberty Division standings. What a turnaround it has been for a Ducks team whose only shot at a playoff berth just a few weeks ago seemingly was a wild card spot. In addition, with Lancaster’s two wins and Sugar Land’s loss, they have now pulled into a tie for first place in the second half Freedom Division standings. As of now, they have the head-to-head advantage of Sugar Land, but there are still three games remaining. If the Barnstormers won the second half and a wild card came into play, Long Island has a 10-4 series lead against Sugar Land, meaning that with one win in the next six games, the Ducks would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Skeeters.

CLICK HERE to read the full recap from Tuesday’s game, complete with audio highlights. CLICK HERE to get a full breakdown of the Ducks’ playoff scenarios.

Tonight, the Ducks will send right-hander Bobby Blevins to the mound. He has been, in a word, spectacular. He holds a 9-3 record with a 2.84 ERA that is the third-lowest among qualified starters in the Atlantic League. Entering Wednesday’s appearance, he has tossed 11 consecutive quality starts dating back to July 4. In that span, he is 5-0 with a 1.44 ERA, giving up just 14 earned runs in 87 and one-third innings of work, and he has yielded 73 hits and just nine walks while striking out 44. Blevins has not walked a single batter in seven of those 10 starts and has walked just four in his last 65 and two-third innings. In four starts against the Skeeters this year, Blevins is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA and one complete game. On May 24 in Sugar Land, he gave up just one run on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts in seven innings but took a no-decision.

The Skeeters will counter with right-hander Clint Everts, who makes his 22nd appearance (19th start) of the year. He enters with a record of 5-9 with a 5.96 ERA and has walked 53 batters in 102.2 innings of work. His last outing came on Thursday in Camden, and it did not go well. Everts lasted just one inning, allowing six runs on four hits and three walks. Sugar Land rallied for an 8-7 win in 10 innings to prevent him from getting a loss, but it was certainly not what the righty was hoping for on the mound. Everts has made two starts against the Ducks and is 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA. In 6.1 innings against the Flock, he has allowed nine runs on 13 hits and six walks without striking out a batter.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 15th meeting of the season between the Ducks and Skeeters and fifth of 10 games between them in Texas. The Ducks lead the series 10-4 and have a 3-1 lead on the road. Long Island and Sugar Land have played 54 games against each other all-time, with the Skeeters holding a 30-24 lead overall and a 17-7 advantage at Constellation Field.

Starter Domination: Ducks starters have all earned victories during Long Island’s five-game winning streak. After John Brownell tossed eight innings of three-run ball on Tuesday, Ducks starters have combined to post a 1.22 ERA during the streak, yielding just five earned runs over 37 innings of work. They also combined to allow just 31 hits and 3 walks while striking out 20 batters.

What Can Brown-ell Do For You? Brownell earned his 13th win of the season on Tuesday, tying him for the Atlantic League lead. Shaun Garceau (Ducks) and Chris Schwinden (Barnstormers) each have 13 wins as well. Brownell also leads the Atlantic League in innings pitched (181.2), complete games (5), and starts (26) while ranking second in strikeouts with 119 (Matt Wright, Skeeters, 127). The righty has tossed back-to-back quality starts and seven quality starts in his last eight outings.

Harris is Heating Up: With two hits on Tuesday, Brendan Harris extended his hitting streak to 15 consecutive games. During the streak, Harris is batting .406 (26-for-64) with five doubles, two home runs, nine RBI, 15 runs and eight walks. He has multiple hits in seven of the 15 games.

Ford’s on Fire: With two hits on Tuesday, Lew Ford earned his team-leading 48th multi-hit game of the year. He has now hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games and 23 of his last 26 contests. Over his last 22 games, the former big leaguer is batting .411 (37-for-90) with 12 doubles, two homers, 18 RBI, 21 runs and five walks. 10 of the 20 games in that span in which he recorded a hit were multi-hit contests.

Cody’s Crushing It: Cody Puckett had two hits on Tuesday and has now hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games. In those 19 games, he’s batting .372 (29-for-78) with five doubles, one triple, one homer, 18 RBI and six runs. Eight of the 17 games with a hit have been multi-hit contests.

Bailey’s Big Night: Adam Bailey collected a single in the ninth inning on Tuesday, and he has now hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, earning multiple hits in seven of them. In those 10 games, Bailey is batting .425 (17-for-40) with two doubles, three homers, 10 RBI and seven runs.

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. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

Ducks
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – CF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#11 C.J. Retherford – 1B
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#14 Brandon Bantz – C
#22 Joash Brodin – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#18 Bobby Blevins – RHP

Skeeters
#41 Adam Godwin – CF
#16 Travis Scott – C
#24 Delwyn Young – DH
#14 Denny Almonte – LF
#5   Chase Lambin – 2B
#9   Rene Tosoni – 1B
#4   Dominic Ramos – SS
#2   Michael Rockett – 3B
#6   Bridger Hunt – RF

#10 Clint Everts – RHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game as the Ducks look to win their sixth game in a row!

UPDATE (6:15): TOP 1: Ducks strike first on a run-scoring groundout to short by Brendan Harris!

UPDATE (6:50): END 3: Ducks still lead 1-0 after Bobby Blevins gets Travis Scott to fly out to center, stranding two on base.

UPDATE (7:23): END 5: Blevins strands two more on base to keep the Ducks in front 1-0! He strikes out Godwin and gets Scott to ground out to second.

UPDATE (7:35): TOP 6: Cody Puckett reaches on an error by Michael Rockett, allowing Brendan Harris to score! 2-0 Ducks lead!

UPDATE (8:22): BOT 8: Delwyn Young ties the game with a two-run homer to left off Kris Regas. 2-2 the score.

UPDATE (8:43): END 9: Brett Lorin tosses a scoreless ninth inning, and we will have bonus baseball in Sugar Land.

UPDATE (8:57): TOP 10: With two outs, the Ducks get two hits, a walk, and then Joash Brodin is hit by a pitch to force home a run! 3-2 Flock!

UPDATE (9:09): FINAL: David Kopp tosses a scoreless 10th to earn the save for a second straight night! Ducks beat the Skeeters 3-2 in 10!

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Posted on September 3, 2014, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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