Game 1: Ducks at Revolution

Happy Opening Day everybody!

The moment has finally arrived for baseball fans on Long Island, as the Ducks kick off the 2015 regular season tonight with the opener of a three-game series in Pennsylvania against the York Revolution. It also marks the first of seven consecutive road games for the Flock to open the season, including a stretch where 10 of the first 13 games are away from Bethpage Ballpark.

The Ducks enter the regular season with a bit of confidence after rattling off four Spring Training victories in four games, including three shutouts. Long Island posted back-to-back four-hit blankings of the Bridgeport Bluefish last weekend before topping the semi-pro Long Island Black Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It’s hard to put too much emphasis on the results of exhibition contests, but the one thing that stood out was the fact that the Ducks could win in multiple different ways. They pitched extremely well, the offense showed some potency and the defense looked superb. It remains to be seen if that all translates into the regular season, but it is definitely an early positive sign.

Long Island will be facing a York team that reached the playoffs in 2014 as the First Half Freedom Division champions but ultimately lost in the first round of the postseason to the Sugar Land Skeeters in a thrilling five-game series. York is returning great deal of players from that squad this season. The Revs boast a team that features a good balance of offense and pitching. Last year, they finished third in the league in batting average (.267) and second in ERA (3.44). In addition, they had the Ducks’ number in 2014, going 13-7 against the Flock and winning seven of 10 games at Santander Stadium. The Ducks will try to reverse that course this year and end a streak of three consecutive seasons with losing records against the Revs.

Taking the mound for a second straight Opening Day will be right-hander John Brownell. He is the only returning member from last year’s starting rotation, but he has been the most reliable starter for the Flock since he joined the team late in 2012. In 2014, he compiled a record of 13-9 with a 3.61 ERA in a franchise record 29 starts. He also finished just five inning shy of the Atlantic League record for innings pitched with 202, coming up just short of the mark set by Bridgeport’s Allan Sontag in 2000. The two-time Atlantic League champion struggled against the Revolution last year, going 1-3 with a 4.46 ERA in five starts.

Brownell will be opposed by right-hander Shawn Hill, who returns to York for the first time since 2012. That year, he went 2-0 with a 2.43 ERA in seven games (five starts) before getting signed by the Toronto Blue Jays. That September, he was called up to the Major Leagues, threw three scoreless innings and earned a win. Last year, he pitched at Double-A and Triple-A with the Blue Jays as well as Triple-A with the White Sox and Tigers. He combined to post a 7-8 record with a 4.58 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 23 games (20 starts). Hill made one start against the Ducks in 2012 and earned the win. He tossed six and one-third scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out seven.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Opening Night: The Ducks will play their 16th season opener tonight. They have an all-time record of 10-5 in the first game of the season but have dropped two consecutive season openers. Long Island’s last Opening Night win was on April 26, 2012 when they defeated Somerset 9-4. Including 2015, the Ducks have begun each of the past five seasons on the road. This is the first time the Ducks and Revolution will play each other to begin the season.

Ducks vs. Revolution: Tonight’s game marks the 156th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Revolution. York leads the all-time series by a 78-77 margin, including a 46-31 edge at Santander Stadium. It also marks the first of 16 games between the two in 2015. The Revolution won the 2014 season series 13-7 and held a 7-3 advantage in York.

New to the Flock: Long Island’s 2015 roster features just eight returning players from 2014 (Lew Ford, Dan Lyons, John Brownell, Eric Niesen, Cody Puckett, Tommy Organ, Sergio Perez and Evan Crawford). Of those eight, only five began the year with the Ducks (Ford, Lyons, Brownell, Niesen and Puckett). Six of the 19 newcomers have previous Atlantic League experience (Mickey Jannis, Ian Marshall, Mark Rogers, Jose Morales, Reegie Corona and Bryan Sabatella).

What Can Brown-ell Do For You? John Brownell will be making his second consecutive Opening Day start as a member of the Ducks. Last year, he tossed six innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five, earning a no-decision against the Patriots at TD Bank Ballpark. In his Ducks career, Brownell is 24-21 with a 3.86 ERA and 278 strikeouts over 59 regular season games (58 starts) and 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 27 strikeouts in five postseason starts.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: During the Ducks’ four Spring Training wins, Long Island relief pitchers combined to allow just one run in 19 innings of work. During that span, they yielded only eight hits and five walks while striking out a total of 17 batters. As a pitching staff, Long Island gave up only three runs in four games and posted three shutouts.

On the Air: Tonight’s season opener will be broadcast with live streaming audio on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Fans can follow all the action on their radio dial or online by CLICKING HERE. Michael Polak will call the play-by-play. Fans can also follow a pitch-by-pitch account of the game via Pointstreak’s GameLive application by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, here are tonight’s starting lineups:

#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#25 Erik Komatsu – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#26 Jose Morales – C
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#22 Blake Davis – 2B
#29 Evan Crawford – DH
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#7   John Brownell – RHP

#33 Brandon Boggs – CF
#21 Wilson Valdez – SS
#4   Eric Patterson – 2B
#7   Andres Perez – 1B
#14 Johan Limonta – DH
#37 Bryan Pounds – 3B
#31 Brandon Jones – LF
#34 Salvador Paniagua – C
#1   Desmond Henry – RF

#20 Shawn Hill – RHP

As we did last year, we will be updating this post throughout the course of the game from Santander Stadium. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long. Get ready Ducks fans. The 140-game sprint begins today!

UPDATE (6:49): We are underway as Bryan Sabatella singles to left field!

UPDATE (6:58): TOP 1: Ducks take their first lead of the year on a RBI groundout to second base by Lew Ford! 1-0 Flock!

UPDATE (7:09): BOT 1: John Brownell with a terrific start as he strikes out the side in the first, all swinging!

UPDATE (7:37): END 3: Blake Davis with an acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch to retire Desmond Henry! Another 1-2-3 inning for Brownell!

UPDATE (7:47): TOP 4: The first Ducks home run of the 2015 season goes to Jon Griffin! His opposite field two-run blast puts the Flock up 3-0!

UPDATE (8:10): END 5: Revs get their first baserunner on a walk, but Brownell retires the next three in order to keep them off the scoreboard!

UPDATE (8:19): TOP 6: Another Duck dinger! Cody Puckett launches his first of the year, a solo blast off the carousel in left-center! 4-0 Ducks lead!

UPDATE (8:41): END 7: Ducks add another run in the seventh on a sac fly to right by Ford, and Brownell tosses a scoreless seventh inning! 5-0 Flock!

UPDATE (9:07): END 8: Revolution score two runs on a single and an error, but Amalio Diaz avoids any further trouble. 5-2 Ducks lead!

UPDATE (9:24): FINAL: Ryan Kussmaul nails down the save in the ninth, and the Ducks win on Opening Day 5-2! John Brownell wins with seven shutout innings!


Posted on April 24, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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