Game 53: Ducks vs. Skeeters

Mound

The Ducks just keep on winning! Winners of 15 games in June, Long Island swept a doubleheader of seven-inning games from the Sugar Land Skeeters on Wednesday night at Bethpage Ballpark, their third twinbill sweep of the 2015 season. The first-place Somerset Patriots split a doubleheader with the Bridgeport Bluefish yesterday, meaning the Flock are now just one and a half games back of the top spot in the Liberty Division.

After being roughed up in his previous start against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Ducks starter Andrew Barbosa had a bounce back start in game one of the doubleheader against Sugar Land. Barbosa’s six shutout innings, combined with 12 more Long Island hits, were enough for the home team to wrap up a 4-1 win in game one. In the second inning, Dan Lyons drove in Mike Blanke from second base to put the Ducks up 1-0. Blanke had stolen second base a few pitches before, his third of the season. He and Jose Morales, as catchers, have stolen a combined seven bases this season. As Barbosa continued to cruise, the Ducks tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Lyons earned another RBI with a sacrifice fly, before Delta Cleary, Jr.’s single brought in Blanke for his second run of the contest. Lyons continued his offensive tear with a solo shot in the sixth, his second homer of the year, putting Long Island up 4-0. In the seventh, Nick Struck entered from the Ducks’ bullpen to wrap up the game. The righty allowed just his third run of the entire season, a RBI single to Willy Taveras making it a 4-1 ballgame. Struck was pulled one batter later after surrendering another single, bringing in Ryan Kussmaul. Kussmaul retired Delwyn Young for the final out of the game, picking up his 14th save of the season in the process.

Barbosa took the win to improve to 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA. He gave up three hits, walked three, and struck out seven. Starter Josh Geer took the loss for Sugar Land.

After a brief 20-30 minute break, game two got underway from Bethpage Ballpark. Once again, the Ducks used a combination of strong pitching and offense to earn a win, this time in a 3-1 final. Right-hander Ian Marshall took the ball for the Ducks in the nightcap against Sean Gallagher for the Skeeters. Sugar Land got on the board first, thanks to Denny Almonte’s fourth homer of the year in the third inning. His solo shot just over the wall in left put the Skeeters on top 1-0. As they have done all season when falling behind, the Ducks came right back in the bottom of the frame to pull ahead 2-1. Lew Ford’s RBI single to center scored Cody Puckett. Ford advanced to second base on a throw from the outfield. One batter later, Long Island was in front on Randy Ruiz’s RBI double, scoring Ford. In the fifth, Marshall got into trouble, loading the bases with one out. Lefty Patrick Crider was brought in by Kevin Baez to face Dustin Martin. Crider needed just one pitch to get a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side and keep Long Island on top 2-1. In the sixth, Blake Davis’ sacrifice fly to left scored Randy Ruiz and gave the Ducks another insurance run. That was all they would need. Kussmaul picked up his second save of the night and his 15th of the season with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Kussmaul continues to lead the league in saves. Marshall took a no decision with four and one-third innings of work, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts. However, he walked four batters in the outing. Crider improved to 2-1 with the victory, throwing just the one pitch for two outs. Gallagher took the loss, pitching all six innings for his team but falling to 1-5 despite a 3.43 ERA. He surrendered three runs (two earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out four.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from game one
CLICK HERE for the box score to game one
CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from game two
CLICK HERE for the box score to game two
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Lew Ford, Andrew Barbosa, and Randy Ruiz

Long Island will look for a series sweep tonight at the Duck Pond in what looks to be a pitcher’s duel in the making. Knuckleballer Mickey Jannis will be on the bump for the Flock. Jannis leads the Ducks in innings pitched this season, serving as a starter and reliever. Eight of his 12 appearances have been starts. Through 61 and one-third innings, the righty has allowed just 15 runs (10 earned) on 41 hits while walking 18 and striking out 44. He is 4-2 with a 1.47 ERA. In his last 32 innings pitched, the Nevada native has allowed two runs on 15 hits with 23 strikeouts. His 1.47 ERA is second in the Atlantic League behind Somerset’s Sean Bierman (1.39). Jannis last pitched in Bridgeport on June 12 in a 2-1 come-from-behind Ducks win. He allowed one run in seven innings on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Opponents are hitting a meager .190 against Jannis. Tonight will be his first outing against the Skeeters. He is making his Ducks debut in 2015, coming to the Ducks after splitting time in 2014 with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. He made 12 starts with Lake Erie, going 3-4 with a 4.45 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 64 and two-thirds innings. Upon shifting to Southern Maryland, Jannis compiled a 4-1 record over 10 starts with a 2.37 ERA, one complete game and 36 strikeouts in 57 innings of work. The right-hander began his career in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, reaching as high as Single-A Charlotte. He went on to pitch with Lake Erie in 2012 and 2013 and made 10 appearances with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2013. Overall, the 27-year-old knuckleballer has a 24-20 career record with a 3.14 ERA, 14 saves and 311 strikeouts in 139 games (37 starts). Jannis was originally drafted by the Rays in the 44th round of the 2010 MLB amateur draft.

The Skeeters will try to salvage the final game of the series by giving the ball to southpaw Roy Merritt. The Houston, Texas native comes into Thursday’s matchup with three starts in five appearances. He is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. In 14 innings of work, Merritt has yet to allow a run, allowing five hits. He has walked four and struck out 11. His last outing came on June 12 in Texas against the York Revolution, a 6-3 Skeeters victory. Merritt earned the win with five shutout innings, allowing two hits while walking and striking out three. Opposing batters have an average of .111 against him. Merritt begins his ninth season of professional baseball and first with the Sugar Land Skeeters. Last season, Merritt was with the Somerset Patriots for three games, posting a 1-1 record with a 2.63 ERA. With a career 27-27 record with a 3.40 ERA, Merritt was drafted by the New York Mets in the 29th-round of the 2007 MLB amateur draft from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. He advanced as high as Triple-A with the Mets in 2010 before transitioning to the Atlantic League.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 66th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 34-31, but Long Island holds a 21-14 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight is also the sixth of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks lead the series 4-1. Long Island won the 2014 series 13-7, going 7-3 at home.

All They Do Is Win: By taking both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Ducks have now won five consecutive series and are unbeaten in their last eight series. The Flock have a 10-2-2 record in series play. Long Island is 15-1 in their last 16 games, outscoring opponents 101-44 in that span (6.3 runs scored/game).

Doubleheader Domination: The Ducks earned their third sweep of a twinbill this year by winning both games against the Skeeters on Wednesday. Long Island has also swept day/night doubleheaders from the Lancaster Barnstormers on May 9 and the Camden Riversharks on June 5. The Ducks are now 7-1 in doubleheaders this season and 20-6 in twinbills dating back to 2014.

Top of the Heap: Bryan Sabatella extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games with a single in game one on Wednesday. That’s the longest hitting streak by a Duck this season and the longest active hitting streak in the Atlantic League. During the streak, the Long Island native is batting .400 (24-for-60) with one double, one triple, 10 RBI and 13 runs scored. He has earned hits in 24 of his last 26 games, reaching base safely in 25 of them. The outfielder currently leads the league in runs (40), at-bats (214) and stolen bases (15) and is second in hits (64).

Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has earned hits in 10 consecutive games after picking up a pair of hits in both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader. In those 10 games, the former big leaguer is batting .452 (19-for-42) with five doubles, eight RBI, and nine runs. Ford currently leads the Atlantic League in hits (67), RBI (44), total bases (102), doubles (18) and extra-base hits (24). He is also tied for first in slugging percentage (.518), tied for second in batting average (.340), third in on-base percentage (.410) and tied for third in runs (28).

Diaz is Dazzling: Amalio Diaz tossed another scoreless inning of relief in game two on Wednesday. The right-hander has now made nine straight appearances without allowing a single run. In addition, he has given up just one run in his last 19 outings. In that span, Diaz has combined to pitch 19 innings, yielding just 10 hits and one walk while striking out 24 batters.

On the Air: Tonight’s game can be heard on the Ducks’ flagship station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio, as the “Ducks Game of the Week.” Live streaming video and audio will be available by CLICKING HERE. Chris King 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
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – LF
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#28 Prentice Redman – RF
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#12 Dan Lyons

#6 Mickey Jannis – RHP

Skeeters
#11 Willy Taveras – DH
#24 Delwyn Young – 2B
#25 Johan Limonta – RF
#14 Dustin Martin – LF
#16 Travis Scott – 1B
#5 Kevin Russo – 3B
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#17 Denny Almonte – CF
#9 Amadeo Zazueta – SS

#33 Roy Merritt – LHP

Check back here for updates all game long from the Duck Pond as Long Island closes their series against the Skeeters! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (6:40): TOP 1: Mickey Jannis deals a first pitch strike to Willy Taveras and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!

UPDATE (7:00): MID 2: Mickey Jannis strands a runner on third with one out thanks to a 1-3-5-2 double play! Still scoreless as the Ducks come up to hit!

UPDATE (7:32): BOT 4: Randy Ruiz with his first home run of the year! A two-run shot has LI up 2-0!

UPDATE (8:16): MID 7: Jannis with a big 6-4-3 double play ball to end the top of the frame! Ducks coming up to bat still leading 2-0!

UPDATE (8:24): TOP 8: Amalio Diaz comes into the game to replace Mickey Jannis. Jannis’ final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. 94 Pitches-55 strikes.

UPDATE (8:48): TOP 9: Ryan Kussmaul comes in looking for his league-leading 16th save of the season! LI still leads 2-0!

UPDATE (8:56): FINAL: Kussmaul works out of a small jam to hold on for the 2-0 win! He has saved our last three wins! LI has won six in a row!!!

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Posted on June 18, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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