Game 5: Ducks at Blue Crabs

There’s something with the Ducks about winning by three this year. After winning by a 5-2 margin in both of their victories at York, the Ducks topped the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 4-1 on Monday night to earn their third win in four games thus far. Pitching once again was the story in the early going, but as was the case in their first two wins, the Ducks used key runs late to secure the game. In addition, the story was very similar to Saturday in which two key plays decided the game.

1) Defensive Web Gem from Reegie Corona
The Ducks and Blue Crabs were tied at one, with both runs coming in the fourth inning. Lew Ford had hit his first homer of 2015, while Daryle Ward responded with a RBI single for his first run batted in of 2015. Ducks left-hander Carmine Giardina was making his debut in the sixth, and he ran into a bit of trouble. A pop up by Cyle Hankerd fell in shallow right field, and Ward followed with a single to center. Southern Maryland was threatening to take their first lead of the night, and that’s when Reegie Corona saved the day. Long Island’s utility infielder made an outstanding diving stop on a hard grounder up the middle by Craig Maddox, flipped the ball from his glove to Dan Lyons covering second and then fired over to first base to complete an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Manager Kevin Baez called it a “Major League play” after the game, and it kept the score tied at one.

2) Mr. Clutch is Clutch Again
Lyons has picked up several clutch hits in his Ducks career. Heck, he won the 2012 Atlantic League Championship Series MVP with game-winning hits in Games Two and Five. The shortstop found himself at the center of attention in the top of the seventh on Monday night. The Ducks had loaded the bases on two walks by Orlando Santos and an infield single off Justin Berg by Anthony Vega. Lyons then came to the plate and alternated balls and strikes until the count ran full at 3-and-2. The next pitch from Berg was lined into right field for a two-run single that scored Cody Puckett and Jon Griffin, putting the Ducks in front for good. There isn’t much more clutch than a two-out, two-strike, two-run go-ahead single, and Lyons was the hero for the Ducks yet again.

We caught up with Corona and Lyons to discuss their two key plays in Monday’s win:

As for the pitching, Sergio Perez look fairly strong in his Ducks starting debut. He allowed four hits and two walks over five innings of work and did have some trouble with falling behind in counts. However, he gave up only one run and struck out six, the most by a Ducks pitcher thus far. Once again, the bullpen was spectacular. After Giardina got out of his jam in the sixth, the three-headed monster of Amalio Diaz, Hector Ambriz and Ryan Kussmaul closed out the game in dominant fashion. Diaz and Ambriz each struck out two, with Diaz allowing only an infield single. Kussmaul earned his third save in as many games with a scoreless ninth, allowing just a two-out walk in the process.

CLICK HERE to listen to the highlights from Monday’s victory
CLICK HERE to view Monday’s box score

With temperatures warming up a bit on Tuesday and the sun shining, the Ducks and Blue Crabs will do battle once again at 7:05 p.m. For the second straight day, a reliever-turned-starter will make his season debut for Long Island. Eric Niesen takes the mound looking to give the Flock a third straight win. The southpaw was dominant out of the bullpen again in 2014, going 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 65 strikeouts in a team-high 59 games. He started one game this winter with Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League, but his last professional start was back in 2012 when he made two spot-starts for the Ducks. He allowed six runs on seven hits in two and one-third innings against York in the first start, but threw three scoreless innings in the second start. That one came here at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, so it’s almost fitting that his first start since then will come in the same place. Niesen was 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA in nine games against the Blue Crabs in 2014.

Opposing Long Island will be Atlantic League veteran Jake Hale, who makes his first start of 2015. The right-hander spent the 2013 season with the Camden Riversharks before splitting time in 2014 with Camden and the Blue Crabs. Last year, he was 5-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts with the Riversharks and 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA in 13 games (two starts) with Southern Maryland. Both stat lines were much improved from his 3-7 record and 5.43 ERA with Camden in 2013. Hale made three appearances (two starts) against the Ducks in 2014 and struggled, posting an 8.18 ERA and allowing 14 hits and three walks in 11 innings of work.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Blue Crabs: Tonight’s game marks the 139th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Blue Crabs. Southern Maryland currently leads the series 75-63 and has a 37-28 record at Regency Furniture Stadium. Tonight is also the second of 20 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. Long Island leads the series 1-0. The Ducks won the 2014 series 12-8 and went 7-3 at Southern Maryland.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: Long Island’s bullpen pitched four innings of shutout baseball in Monday’s win. Carmine Giardina, Amalio Diaz, Hector Ambriz and Ryan Kussmaul combined to allow just three hits and one walk while striking out four batters. Thus far, Ducks relievers have given up just four runs (three earned) in 13 innings, good for a 2.08 ERA. In addition, they’ve yielded just 10 hits and three walks while striking out 14.

Cool in the Clutch: Dan Lyons picked up the game-winning hit during Monday’s game with a two-run single in the seventh inning. It was his first two-RBI game of the year and Long Island’s third of 2015. In 2014, Lyons totaled eight two-RBI games and 11 multi-RBI contests. The shortstop is tied for second on the team with four hits, one behind Evan Crawford.

Reegie Rakes: Reegie Corona collected his first two hits and first run batted in of the season with two singles and a bases loaded walk in the win on Monday. The former Yankees prospect totaled three multi-hit games and three RBI in 24 games with the Lancaster Barnstormers in 2014. Corona also made a dazzling defensive play to start a 4-6-3 inning ending double play in the sixth inning of the victory.

New to the Rotation: Tonight’s starter, Eric Niesen, will make his first start since the 2012 season. That year, he started twice for the Ducks but never pitched more than three innings. The southpaw has started 76 of 312 career games and is 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA in three seasons with the Ducks.

On the Air: Tonight is the first “Ducks Game of the Week” broadcast on the team’s flagship radio station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Fans can follow all the action on their radio dial or online with live streaming audio 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
#29 Evan Crawford – DH
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#26 Jose Morales – C
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#40 Anthony Vega – LF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#17 Eric Niesen – LHP

Blue Crabs
#3   Antone DeJesus – CF
#1   Fred Lewis – RF
#2   Jake Opitz – 2B
#15 Cyle Hankerd – LF
#42 Daryle Ward – DH
#29 Zach Wilson – 1B
#24 Casey Stevenson – 3B
#23 Gustavo Molina – C
#4   Casey Frawley – SS

#28 Jake Hale – RHP

Keep it here for updates from Southern Maryland as the Ducks look for their third consecutive victory. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (7:08): Our LI News Radio “Ducks Game of the Week” is underway at Regency Furniture Stadium!

UPDATE (7:24): BOT 1: Southern Maryland strikes first tonight, as Cyle Hankerd lifts a sacrifice fly to right field.

UPDATE (7:46): BOT 2: Another sac fly, this time from Casey Frawley, has extended the Blue Crabs lead to 2-0. However, they leave the bases loaded.

UPDATE (8:53): BOT 6: The sac fly show continues, as Frawley lifts another sac fly to center. Blue Crabs lead 3-0 on three sac flies.

UPDATE (9:01): TOP 7: Ducks get back-to-back hits from Ford and Morales, but a double play line out ends the threat.

UPDATE (9:37): FINAL: Erik Hamren records his first save of the year, and the Ducks fall tonight 3-0 in Southern Maryland.


Posted on April 28, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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