Game 35: Ducks at Patriots
After Thursday night’s heartbreaker, the Ducks offense was shut out for a second straight game on Friday night in a 3-0 loss to the Patriots. Somerset’s bullpen proved to be too much, as they extended their lead over Long Island in the Liberty Division to five games.
The Pats did not wait long to get the scoring started off of Ducks starter Billy Buckner. Buckner was making just his second appearance of the season for the Flock since being signed on May 19. In the second frame, Somerset’s Scott Cousins led off with a single. He would steal second, and with two outs, Robert Andino would slap a 1-0 pitch through the hole into left field, scoring Cousins from second. Erik Komatsu’s throw was too late, and the Pats had the one-run advantage. They extended the lead to 3-0 one inning later. After a one-out walk to Thomas Neal, Chris Marrero swung at the first pitch he saw from Buckner, hitting a two-run homer to left field. That was all the offense Somerset needed to wrap up the win. For Long Island, Bryan Sabatella, Lew Ford, and Cody Puckett each finished with a double. Puckett barely missed a home run for the second straight night when his double hit the wall in left field.
Despite the three runs, Buckner looked solid overall. His curveball helped him get ahead in counts and finish at-bats, a pitch he mixed well with a tailing fastball. Through four innings, the righty struck out seven batters. He walked two and allowed the three runs on five hits, raising his ERA to 4.50. The loss was his first decision of the year. Long Island’s bullpen also pitched four quality innings. Nick Struck tossed two innings and allowed just two hits in place of Buckner. Struck’s ERA dropped to 2.35. Carmine Giardina and Eric Niesen also took the ball in relief. Giardina had not appeared in a game in nine days, but tossed a 1-2-3 seventh. Niesen, whose previous appearance came in last Saturday’s nightcap with the Camden Riversharks, recorded a strikeout in a 1-2-3 eighth. David Harden earned the win for the Patriots with five shutout innings. He improved to 3-1 in 2015.
CLICK HERE for the box score of Friday’s game
The Flock will try to salvage the series on Saturday night when they hand the ball to Andrew Barbosa. The southpaw enters without a decision on the season and an ERA of 1.12. Like Buckner, Barbosa was signed on May 19 but will be making his third appearance on Saturday evening. His last start came this past Sunday when Long Island defeated the Riversharks in waddle-off fashion. He went five innings and allowed one run on four hits, while walking none and striking out four. He has played four seasons professionally, all in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He began the 2014 season with Double-A Mobile, making three appearances (one start). In 2014, he split time between Rookie-level Diamondbacks and Advanced-A Visalia, combining to go 7-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts.
The Patriots will try to take the series with lefty Matt Zielinski on the hill. In five appearances on the season, Zielinski has made four starts and is 1-0 with an ERA of 2.92. The 27-year-old is in his second season with Somerset, having last pitched on Sunday against the York Revolution. In a 9-5 Patriots win, Zielinski surrendered five runs (all earned) on eight hits. He walked one and did not record a strikeout. Zielinski started the 2014 Atlantic League All-Star Game and was named the 2014 Atlantic League “Left-Handed Pitcher of the Year.” He was 10-8 with a 3.27 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 151.1 innings pitched in 27 games during the 2014 season. Zielinski has four seasons of independent minor league experience, playing for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League before joining Somerset.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
The Faithful Flock: The Ducks have welcomed 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 289th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset leads the series 146-142 and has a 76-66 ad- vantage over the Ducks at TD Bank Ballpark. It also marks the fourth of 20 scheduled games between the two in 2015. The Patriots currently lead the series two games to one. The 2014 matchup finished tied at 10 games apiece, with both teams going 5-5 at home.
Oh, What a Relief They Are: Long Island’s bullpen has been very strong in the series thus far. In the three games against the Patriots, Ducks relievers have combined to allow just one run in 10 innings of work, good for a 0.90 ERA. The bullpen has also given up four hits and three walks while striking out eight batters in the series. Nick Struck has now thrown six consecutive scoreless outings.
Sabatella’s Sizzling: Bryan Sabatella picked up a double on Friday to extend his hitting streak to 10 consecutive games. That’s the second-longest hitting streak for a Duck this year, one behind Reegie Corona and Dan Lyons. During his hitting streak, the Long Island native is batting .356 (16-for-45) with six doubles, five RBI, seven runs and six stolen bases. Sabatella leads the league with 26 runs this year, three more than Bridgeport’s Nick Van Stratten.
Cody’s Crushing It: Cody Puckett extended his on-base streak to 10 straight games with a double on Friday. In those 10 games, the third baseman is bat- ting .366 (15-for-41) with four doubles, five RBI, and five runs scored. The streak followed up a stretch where Puckett went 0-for-12 at the plate, and he has raised his batting average from .264 to .297 during the streak. Puckett now has eight doubles this year, including one in three consecutive games.
Off to the Races: Despite not stealing a base on Friday, the Ducks have still stolen 40 bases this year. That leads the Atlantic League by three over Lancaster. Long Island has at least one steal in six of their last seven games and eight of the last 10 contests. Bryan Sabatella leads the league with 14 stolen bases.
On-Base Machine: Lew Ford collected his 12th double of the season on Friday. He has now hit safely in five consecutive games and reached base safely in 20 of his last 21 contests. In those 21 games, the former big leaguer has raised his batting average from .255 to .346 and his on-base percentage from .321 to .419. Ford’s is tied with three others for the league lead with 12 doubles.
On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Live streaming audio will also 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
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#28 Prentice Redman – LF
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#49 Andrew Barbosa – LHP
#6 Jonny Tucker – CF
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#24 Thomas Neal – 1B
#14 Chris Marrero – RF
#9 Mat Gamel – DH
#8 David Vidal – 3B
#20 Greg Hopkins – 2B
#13 Robert Andino – SS
#21 Adam Donachie – C
#31 Matt Zielinski
We’ll have updates all evening long from TD Bank Ballpark as the Ducks try to split the series in Somerset. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (7:14): TOP 1: Underway from Somerset! Game four of the set!
UPDATE (7:52): TOP 4: No score after three! Ducks looking for some runs!
UPDATE (8:01): TOP 4: Jon Griffin launches a two run homer to left!!! 2-0 Flock!
UPDATE (8:41): TOP 7: 3-0 Ducks! Blanke with the RBI single scoring Corona!
UPDATE (9:27): FINAL: Ducks win 3-0!!! Ryan Kussmaul with his ninth save!