Game 9: Ducks vs. Skeeters

It’s difficult to open up your home ballpark for the season any better than the Ducks did on Friday night. Long Island continued to receive outstanding pitching, jumped out to an early lead, made the Skeeters pitch out of jams consistently and put it all together for a 5-0 victory, their second shutout in three days. Combine that performance with some fantastic Opening Night ceremonies and a near-capacity crowd of 5,905, and Friday was a memorable night at Bethpage Ballpark.

Prior to the game, the first 1,500 fans through the gates receive a Lew Ford Bronze Figurine, courtesy of P.C. Richard and Son. It was a fitting and unique giveaway to start the year after the record-breaking season he put together in 2014. Ford then received his Atlantic League Player of the Year award on the field, and it was presented to him by the only other Duck to win the award: Ray Navarrete, who took home the title in 2009. When Navarrete was announced, he received a nice ovation from the crowd. One can only imagine how memorable the ceremony will be for Navarrete on August 16 when his #16 is retired by the Ducks.

After the teams were introduced to the fans, the Ducks took the field and took the lead before many had even settled into their seats. Long Island native Bryan Sabatella doubled to open up the first and scored two batters later on a RBI single to left by Ford. One inning later, the Ducks added three more runs against Skeeters starter Dan Meadows to open up a 4-0 lead. Dan Lyons picked up his second two-run hit of the week with a double to left, and he later scored when Sabatella singled to center and the ball was bobbled by Denny Almonte. For good measure, Sabatella scored for a second time in the seventh on a wild pitch by Robbie Weinhardt.

The story though was John Brownell, who for a second consecutive start dominated the opponent. After pitching seven shutout innings in York on Opening Day, the righty threw eight more scoreless frames in the home opener and limited the Skeeters to just four hits and two walks. Brownell used a good mix of his changeup and fastball once again to keep hitters off balance, and his curveball and cutter were both working especially well. It was especially important for him to go deep into the game after the Ducks had to use their bullpen for seven innings on Thursday in Southern Maryland. The only other pitcher needed on Friday was Carmine Giardina, who threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning and needed just 10 pitches.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from Friday’s victory
CLICK HERE to view postgame comments from Brownell, Sabatella and Jose Morales, who had three hits
CLICK HERE to view Friday’s box score

For the middle game of the series, the Ducks will send Ian Marshall to the mound to make his second start of the season. The right-hander made a strong debut for the Flock in Sunday’s 5-2 win at York, tossing five innings of scoreless baseball and allowing just three hits while striking out two. Marshall needed just 55 pitches to get through five and recorded a good mix of outs (seven flyouts, six groundouts, two strikeouts). His last start at Bethpage Ballpark came in the final game of the 2014 season, and he threw six innings of one-run ball to earn the victory. Last year, he made four starts against the Skeeters and was 3-0 with a 3.65 ERA, allowing 10 runs in 24 and two-thirds inning while striking out 19 batters and walking just eight.

Sugar Land will go with Shane Loux on the mound, who will also be making his second start of 2015. His first outing came on Monday at home against the Camden Riversharks, and he took a no-decision in a 5-2 loss. The right-hander gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk with one strikeout in four innings. Loux spent five seasons in the Major Leagues, appearing with the Tigers (2002-03), Angels (2008-09) and Giants (2012). He combined to go 4-7 with a 5.94 ERA in 58 games (13 starts). The 35-year-old spent 2014 with the Giants’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League and allowed two runs in seven and one-third innings over seven games.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight’s game marks the 62nd all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 33-28, but Long Island holds an 18-13 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight is also the second of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks lead the series 1-0 and won the 2014 series 13-7, going 7-3 at home.

Home Sweet Home: With Friday’s win, the Ducks have now picked up victories in three of their last four home openers and four of their last six. It was also the second time the Ducks have defeated the Skeeters in the first game of the season at Bethpage Ballpark. Long Island also topped Sugar Land in 2013 by a 10-5 count.

Rotation Domination: John Brownell continued the dominance for Long Island’s starting rotation on Friday night. In eight games, Ducks starters have allowed just seven runs in 42.2 innings of work, good for a 1.48 ERA. In that span, the starters have given up just 26 hits and 11 walks while striking out 28 batters. Long Island has allowed three runs or less in seven of their eight games and has a 5-0 record when allowing two runs or less.

What Can Brown-ell Do For You? John Brownell tossed his second consecutive scoreless outing of the season with eight innings of shutout baseball on Friday. In the righty’s two starts this year, he has combined to allow just six hits and three walks while striking out nine batters in 15 innings. It was also the first time that Brownell has tossed back-to-back scoreless starts in his Ducks career.

Three’s Company: Jose Morales and Bryan Sabatella each picked up the first three-hit games by a Duck this season on Friday. Morales collected three singles, while Sabatella had two doubles and a single. Prior to Friday, Morales had just two hits in his first 19 at-bats of the season. Before Thursday’s game in Southern Maryland, Sabatella had three hits in first 26 at-bats. Sabatella has now collected five hits in his last eight at-bats, scoring three runs and driving in a run.

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. 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, which include the Ducks’ newest addition. On Friday, Long Island acquired outfielder Prentice Redman from the Bridgeport Bluefish for a player to be named later, and he was signed and activated today. In a corresponding roster move, Mark Rogers was placed on the inactive list after suffering an injury in Thursday’s start.

#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#28 Prentice Redman – DH
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#26 Jose Morales – 1B
#22 Blake Davis – 2B
#24 Mike Blanke – C
#25 Erik Komatsu – LF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#21 Ian Marshall – RHP

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

#21 Shane Loux – RHP

Keep it right here throughout the game, as we’ll be cranking out updates from the Duck Pond. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (6:42): TOP 1: Ducks starter Ian Marshall retires the first two Sugar Land Skeeters and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!

UPDATE (7:15): MID 3: Ian Marshall works around a leadoff single to keep the game scoreless. Ducks coming up to bat!

UPDATE (7:34): MID 4: The Skeeters break through first on Jon Weber’s RBI ground out. Ducks trail 1-0.

UPDATE (7:36): BOT 4: Cody Puckett with his third HR of the season makes it 1-1!

UPDATE (8:08): BOT 6: Lew Ford doubles in two and Cody Puckett hits his second HR of the game, a two-run shot, and it’s 5-1 Ducks!

UPDATE (8:15): BOT 6: Mike Blanke drives in Jose Morales to make it 6-1! Long Island now has six consecutive hits!

UPDATE (8:20): BOT 6: The hit parade continues! Bryan Sabatella smashes a three-run homer to left, and it’s 9-1 Ducks!!!

UPDATE (9:01): MID 8: Denny Almonte with an RBI double to right-center field for Sugar Land. Ducks still lead 9-2, coming up to bat.

UPDATE (9:14): BOT 8: Anthony Vega laces an RBI double down the left field line to make it 10-2 Ducks!

UPDATE (9:23): FINAL: Bruce Kern finishes Long Island’s 10-2 win! @Cody_Puckett with two homers, Bryan Sabatella adds a three-run shot!


Posted on May 2, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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