Game 33: Ducks at Patriots
It was a wild one from Somerset on Wednesday evening. Following a 53-minute rain delay, the Ducks got back to what they have been doing so often lately: scoring runs. With the thunderstorms finally cleared out, the tarp was removed from the infield and the Flock went on to win their eighth game in their last nine contests, taking the series opener, 7-6, from the Patriots at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J.
Long Island got early run support for starter John Brownell. In the first, Bryan Sabatella smacked a lead off double into the left field corner, one of five that the Ducks accumulated by the end of the ballgame. After Reegie Corona’s successful sacrifice bunt, Lew Ford grounded out to third but earned the RBI as Sabatella scored one of his two runs on the evening. Brownell responded by tossing three straight 1-2-3 innings through the first three frames. In the fourth, the Ducks increased the lead against Somerset starter Randy Boone. Jon Griffin hit another double that scored Cody Puckett, and Jose Morales followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Griffin to give the Ducks a 3-0 lead.
Things were looking great for the Flock heading into the bottom of the fourth, but that was when Brownell hit a major roadblock. The Patriots erupted for six runs on six hits and took a three-run lead off of Long Island’s ace. A two-run line drive homer to right field from Somerset’s Scott Cousins started the scoring. Jonny Tucker singled and scored early in the inning and later hit a two-run single in his second at-bat of the frame. However, despite the significant hiccup in the inning, Brownell persevered and managed to pitch two more innings of scoreless baseball that looked much like the game’s first three. Outside of the sixth inning, Brownell allowed just one hit. He finished the game with two walks and struck out six on 104 pitches. His 40 strikeouts on the season lead the Atlantic League.
The Ducks responded quickly in the top of the fifth by plating two runs to take momentum back. Sabatella singled to score Dan Lyons, and Puckett’s sacrifice fly later scored Sabatella, giving the right fielder his league-leading 26th run of the season. With the gap closed to 6-5, a strong relief appearance from Patrick Crider in the seventh kept the deficit at one. Then, in the top of the eighth, the Ducks took the lead for good. With the bases loaded, Corona grounded into a RBI fielder’s choice that scored pinch runner Erik Komatsu from third. Komatsu had replaced Morales, who led off the inning with his third hit of the game, finishing 3-for-3 with one RBI. With Delta Cleary, Jr. at third, Ford brought him home by driving a 2-2 pitch into left field for his league-leading 33rd RBI of the season, and the Ducks had regained the lead at 7-6. In the ninth, closer Ryan Kussmaul came in from the bullpen and earned his eighth save of the year to wrap up the come-from-behind win.
CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the series-opening win
CLICK HERE to view Wednesday’s box score
The Ducks will look to make it two in a row against Somerset tonight when they give the ball to righty Mickey Jannis. The knuckleballer comes in at 2-2 with a 2.37 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 30 and one-third innings of work during his first season with the Ducks. His ERA ranks seventh in the league. The 27-year-old has been solid of late, compiling a 1-0 record over his last four appearances, three of which came out of the bullpen. In that span, he has allowed just three earned runs in 14 innings, good for a 1.93 ERA, and has given up 13 hits and three walks while striking out 12. After pitching seven innings of relief on May 21 at York to earn the win, Jannis last appeared in Sunday’s waddle-off win with a scoreless inning of action. Of the seven games the Nevada native has appeared in this season, four of them have been starts. While with the Blue Crabs last year, he made one start against the Patriots in what was his final outing of the year. He allowed two runs in five and one-third innings of work in Southern Maryland’s 5-2 win.
The Patriots will counter with lefty Sean Bierman, who enters Thursday’s game at 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA. The southpaw’s ERA is two spots ahead of Jannis among league leaders at fifth overall. The New Jersey native has allowed 36 hits in 32 and one-third innings of work while walking 11 and striking out 13. The 26-year-old has won each of his last three starts, which have come against Lancaster, Southern Maryland and York, all Freedom Division opponents. In those three outings, he has allowed six runs (three earned) over 17 and two-thirds innings, good for a 1.53 ERA. Just one of his six outings on the season has come at TD Bank Ballpark. That lone start came back on May 12 against Lancaster, an 8-3 Somerset win in which Bierman tossed six innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk with one strikeout. He has not struck out more than three batters in a game this season. Bierman spent three seasons in affiliated ball with the Rays, White Sox and Braves organizations, reaching as high as Single-A.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
The Faithful Flock: The Ducks have welcomed a total of 6,350,581 fans through the gates of Bethpage Ballpark since the team’s inaugural 2000 season. Long Island has also hosted 639 sellout crowds in that time. Both figures are Atlantic League records. The Ducks have led the Atlantic League in attendance 12 times and have an all-time average attendance of 5,863 (97.7%) entering 2015.
Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight marks the 287th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset leads the series 144-142 and has a 74-66 advantage over the Ducks at TD Bank Ballpark. It also marks the second of 20 scheduled games between the two in 2015. The 2014 series finished tied at 10 games apiece, with the two teams splitting the 10 games on Long Island and the 10 in New Jersey.
Offensive Explosion: Long Island’s offense has been red hot in earning eight wins during their last nine games. Following seven more runs and 15 more hits on Wednesday, the Ducks have now accrued 56 runs and 100 hits in their last nine contests. That’s an average of 6.2 runs and 11.1 hits per game.
Off to the Races: The Ducks stole another base on Wednesday. As a team, Long Island has now stolen 39 bases, which leads the Atlantic League by six over Bridgeport and Lancaster. Bryan Sabatella leads the league with 13 stolen bases. Jose Morales earned his fourth steal in his last five games on Wednesday.
Sabatella’s Sizzling: Bryan Sabatella extended his hitting streak to eight consecutive games with a double and a single on Wednesday. During his hitting streak, the Long Island native is batting .361 (13-for-36) with five doubles, five RBI, seven runs and five stolen bases. Sabatella leads the Atlantic League with 26 runs this year, three more than Bridgeport’s Nick Van Stratten.
I Can See Cleary Now: Delta Cleary, Jr. collected a single on Wednesday. The outfielder has now hit safely in six consecutive games and reached base safely in nine straight contests. In his last nine games, Cleary, Jr. is batting .393 (11-for- 28) with four doubles, five RBI, eight runs and three stolen bases. He has also scored a run in five consecutive games.
Dan’s the Man: Dan Lyons earned his second three-hit game of the year on Wednesday. His first came on May 14 against Bridgeport. Lyons has now earned a hit in 17 of his last 19 games. In that span, he has a .381 batting average (24- for-63) and has raised his batting average from .161 to .309 in that span.
Diaz is Dealing: Amalio Diaz threw another scoreless inning of relief during Wednesday’s victory. He has now made nine consecutive appearances without allowing a run. In that span, the righty has given up just five hits and no walks while striking out 10 batters, and he has also lowered his ERA from 3.86 to 1.69.
On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Live streaming audio will be available online by CLICKING HERE. Chris Buckley 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
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#28 Prentice Redman – LF
#26 Jose Morales – C
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#6 Mickey Jannis – RHP
#6 Jonny Tucker – CF
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#5 Scott Cousins – RF
#14 Chris Marrero – 1B
#9 Mat Gamel – DH
#8 David Vidal – 3B
#3 Nate Spears – 2B
#13 Robert Andino – SS
#4 James Skelton – C
#32 Sean Bierman – P
Follow along for updates throughout the night from Somerset as the Ducks and Patriots play game two of their four-game set. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (7:09): Underway from TD Bank Ballpark!
UPDATE (7:52): TOP 4: Still no score with the Patriots! Mickey Jannis and his knuckleball are looking great so far! One hit through three innings!
UPDATE (8:38): BOT 7: The score is still 0-0 with the Patriots! Jannis back out for his seventh inning of work!
UPDATE (9:10): TOP 10: We are going to extras in a scoreless game!
UPDATE (10:21): Ducks fall 1-0 in 12 innings.