Ducks Blank Bluefish in Spring Training Opener
The Ducks showcased some terrific pitching and a couple of timely hits in their first game of the exhibition schedule, shutting out the cross-sound rival Bridgeport Bluefish 1-0. With three more games to go in Spring Training, the Ducks still have some preparation to go before the regular season starts on Friday in York. However, Long Island put together a strong performance overall, led by the pitching staff and some splendid defense.
Mark Rogers, a Ducks newcomer, got the start and tossed four innings of shutout baseball. He allowed three hits and did walk three batters, but he struck out four and got the outs he needed to keep the Bluefish of the scoreboard. Five relievers followed, with each blanking Bridgeport as well. Tommy Organ, Patrick Crider and Carmine Giardina, three consecutive southpaws, were the first to come out of the bullpen, with Amalio Diaz and Ryan Kussmaul tossing perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The biggest at-bat of the game came in the seventh when Bridgeport loaded the bases on a single and two walks. However, Giardina induced a 5-3 double play grounder off the bat of John Alonso to end the threat. As a whole, the ‘pen allowed just one hit and three walks while striking out four.
The defense also played a big factor in helping the Ducks secure a victory. Aside from the double play, Puckett made a dazzling play to retire Prentice Redman on a slow roller to third in the second. Remember, Puckett’s only defensive position with the Ducks in 2014 was second base, so this was his first look at third in a Ducks uniform. Another ‘web gem’ came in the ninth when second baseman Blake Davis ranged up the middle on a grounder by Bluefish catcher Luis Rodriguez and completed the long throw to first for an out. Honorable mention goes to Erik Komatsu for a running catch in left field for the third out of the fifth inning.
As for the offense, six hits was enough for the Ducks to secure the win. Their lone run came in the fourth inning against Bridgeport starter Cody Scarpetta. With one out, first baseman Jon Griffin doubled to left field. That set the stage for Davis, who brought him home with a single to center. That was all Long Island needed to hold off the Bluefish, who were limited to just four hits in the contest. Lew Ford led the flock with two hits on the afternoon, while Long Island native Bryan Sabatella and catcher Jose Morales picked up the other two hits.
One of the highlights of the game was the pair of rule changes instituted for this one game only. Any batter that fouled off a pitch with two outs was ruled out via a strikeout, and any batter that drew three balls, rather than four, was issued a walk. Of the 72 plate appearances in the game, 19 were affected by these rule changes (nine three-ball walks and 10 two-strike-foul strikeouts), and the time of game was a tidy two hours and 15 minutes. Both rule changes were proposed by 68-year-old author Paul Auster, a lifelong baseball fan who has published several works. He originally suggested the idea in a letter to the New York Times and later described his reasoning in a phone conversation with the New York Daily News. Auster was in attendance today, along with New York Daily News reporter Andy Martino and a host of other media members.
After the game, we caught up with Ducks shortstop Dan Lyons to get his thoughts on the victory:
CLICK HERE for a box score from Saturday’s game
The Ducks will continue their Spring Training slate on Sunday when they visit the Bluefish at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Game time is slated for 4:00 p.m., and John Brownell is scheduled to start. It was also announced during the team’s Media Day that Brownell is slated to start the Ducks’ season opener on Friday night in York. It would be the second consecutive season in which the righty will be the team’s Opening Day starter. Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed our Third Annual Fan Fest on Saturday, and a big thank you to Mother Nature for gracing Long Island with such fantastic weather!
Posted on April 18, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged 2015, Andy Martino, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Blake Davis, Bridgeport Bluefish, Cody Puckett, Fan Fest, John Brownell, Long Island Ducks, Mark Rogers, Pace of Play, Paul Auster, Spring Training. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.