Game 8: Ducks vs. Skeeters

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The day has finally arrived! It’s Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark!

After a long seven-day road trip for the Ducks to begin the 2015 season, the team returns home for the first of 70 scheduled games this year. Although the Ducks had a strong trip in many ways to begin the season, it will surely feel good for the players to take the field with the crowd behind them and be able the comforts of their own clubhouse and beds rather than a visitor’s clubhouse and hotel rooms. The homestand will be a short one though, as the Ducks host the Skeeters for three games before a well-deserved off day on Monday. Then, it’s off to Bridgeport for three more road games against the cross-sound rival Bluefish.

The Ducks finished their road trip with a 4-3 record, and any team would gladly take a winning record away from their home ballpark. Long Island won two of three in York, which is always a tough place to play, and then split a four-game series in Southern Maryland. It seemed like the Ducks would win back-to-back series when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning against former Duck Shaun Garceau. However, the Blue Crabs rallied back, using single runs in the seventh and eighth to tie the game.

Then in the 10th, Southern Maryland scored the game winner on a controversial play. With runners at the corners and one out, Jamar Walton hit a chopper towards second base. Reegie Corona fielded the ball, appeared to tag Casey Stevenson and then threw to first for an inning ending double play…or so they thought. Third base umpire Nate Caldwell deemed that Corona missed the tag, much to the chagrin of the Ducks players and coaches. In the end, while the loss was a difficult way to end the road trip, the Ducks return home tied for first in the Liberty Division and have a winning record.

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

Tonight, the Ducks take the field in front of their home crowd, looking to defeat the defending Freedom Division champions. After John Brownell started on Opening Night in York, he’ll get the call again on Opening Night at the Duck Pond. Brownell appeared to be in midseason form a week ago, tossing seven shutout innings to earn the win. The righty gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out four and needed just 92 pitches to get through seven innings. He was very successful against Sugar Land a year ago (check out the notes below), and he’s hoping to continue that in his first start against the Skeeters in 2015.

On the other side, left-hander Dan Meadows will take the mound for Sugar Land. He is in his second season with the Skeeters after making 21 appearances (eight starts) in 2014. The southpaw compiled a 3-5 record with a 3.77 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 57 and one-third innings. In his first start of 2015, Meadows surrendered four runs on seven hits and two walks in just two and one-third innings, suffering the loss against the Lancaster Barnstormers. The 27-year-old made four appearances (one start) against the Ducks last year and went 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA, giving up six runs on 10 hits and three walks while striking out five in 10 and two-thirds innings.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight’s game marks the 61st all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 33-27, but Long Island holds a 17-13 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight is also the first of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks won the 2014 series 13-7 over the Skeeters and went 7-3 at home against them.

Home Sweet Home: Tonight marks the 16th home opener in Long Island Ducks history. The Ducks have posted an 8-7 all-time record in home openers. Most recently, they fell on Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark in 2014 by a 6-1 score to the York Revolution. However, the Ducks have won two of their last three home openers and three of their last five. Long Island faced Sugar Land in the 2013 home opener and defeated the Skeeters 10-5.

Rotation Domination: Long Island’s starting pitchers were dominant during the season-opening road trip. In seven games, Ducks starters have allowed just seven runs in 34.2 innings of work, good for a 1.82 ERA. In that span, the starters have given up just 22 hits and nine walks while striking out 23 batters. Long Island has allowed three runs or less in six of their seven games and has a 4-0 record when allowing two runs or less.

The Streak Continues: Cody Puckett extended his on-base streak to seven consecutive games with two hits on Thursday. He is the only Duck to have reached base in each game this year. Dating back to the 2014 season, the infielder has reached base safely in 18 consecutive games. Puckett had the longest on-base streak by a Duck in 2014 at 30 games (5/6 – 6/6). He currently leads the team in batting (.333), hits (8), runs (7), homers (2), doubles (2) and walks (4).

Swatting the Skeeters: Tonight’s starter, John Brownell, was dominant against the Skeeters in 2014. The right-hander made six starts against Sugar Land and posted a 4-1 record with a 2.44 ERA. In 44.1 innings of work, the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series MVP allowed just 12 earned runs on 42 hits and 11 walks while striking out 26. In three home starts against the Skeeters, Brownell was 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA, allowing six runs in 23 innings.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Fans can also follow all the action with live streaming video and audio online by CLICKING HERE. Chris King and David Weiss 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:

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

#7   John Brownell – RHP

Skeeters
#14 Dustin Martin – LF
#4   Beamer Weems – SS
#16 Travis Scott – 1B
#17 Denny Almonte – CF
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#11 Jon Weber – RF
#6   Patrick Palmeiro – 3B
#25 Edwin Gomez – DH
#9   Amadeo Zazueta – 2B

#35 Dan Meadows – LHP

We’ll have updates for you all game long right here on the blog! Below is a timeline for the Opening Night pre-game festivities. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

5:20 – Season Ticket Holder gate opens

5:35 – Gates open to the general public

5:50 – Lew Ford 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year award presentation

6:05 – Pre-game performance on the field from Long Island Lutheran at St. Paul School chorus

6:15 – Ceremonial first pitches

6:22 – Team introductions begin for the Skeeters and Ducks along the third and first base lines, respectively

6:29 – National Anthem performed by Albany Avenue Elementary School and signed by Massapequa High School

6:34 – Ducks take the field

6:37 – Ceremonial first pitch thrown by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

6:40 – First pitch!

UPDATE (6:47): We are underway from Bethpage Ballpark, as John Brownell deals to Dustin Martin!

UPDATE (7:01): TOP 1: On his bronze figurine night, Lew Ford delivers a RBI single to left to put the Ducks on top 1-0!

UPDATE (7:24): BOT 2: Ducks add three runs on a two-run single by Dan Lyons, a single by Sabatella and a run-scoring error!

UPDATE (7:58): MID 5: Another scoreless inning from John Brownell, who has allowed just two hits and struck out three. Ducks still lead 4-0!

UPDATE (8:42): BOT 7: The Ducks push across another run on a wild pitch from Robbie Weinhardt. Long Island leads 5-0 after seven!

UPDATE (8:57): TOP 9: Carmine Giardina enters the game for the Ducks. Final line for John Brownell: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 115 pitches, 73 strikes!

UPDATE (9:02): FINAL: Ducks shut out the Skeeters 5-0 on Opening Night! Brownell earns his second win of the season.

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Posted on May 1, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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