Game 54: Ducks vs. Bluefish

Davies-4-Retirement-Story

Thanks to yet another masterful outing from Mickey Jannis, the Long Island Ducks completed their sweep of the Sugar Land Skeeters on Thursday night at Bethpage Ballpark. In a 2-0 final, the knuckleballer was simply fantastic, tossing seven shutout innings and lifting the Flock to a 16-1 record in June. Long Island continues to keep pace with the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division, as the Pats still lead the Ducks by one and a half games. On Friday, the Ducks will begin a four-game set with the Bridgeport Bluefish. It will also be an historic night in Central Islip, as Long Island retires the number of a team legend for the first time ever.

When you think of the Long Island Ducks, one of the first names that come to mind is Justin Davies. The outfielder was a member of the Ducks during their first six seasons of play on Long Island (2000-05). During his time with the Flock, he posted a .273 batting average, 175 RBI, 52 doubles and 18 triples. Upon retiring after the 2005 season, he held the Ducks all-time record in games played (637), hits (615), runs scored (426) and stolen bases (149), a record which he still holds today. Davies also holds the team’s single season record for walks with 85 in 2002. During his six seasons, he was selected to play in two Atlantic League All-Star Games (2003, ’05).

Davies also helped lead the Ducks to their first-ever Atlantic League championship in 2004. His efforts in the Championship Series lifted the Flock to a three-game sweep of the Camden Riversharks. During the series, he delivered game-winning walk-off hits in both Game One and Two at Citibank Park and finished the series with a .385 batting average. Thanks to his strong play, Davies was named the Atlantic League Championship Series Most Valuable Player.

Davies will be recognized during a special pre-game ceremony that is slated to begin at approximately 6:00 p.m. Fans will be treated to highlights recapping some of the most memorable games in the 38-year-old’s career as well as a speech from Davies himself. The West Babylon High School alum will also be presented with a memento from this historic celebration, and his retired #4 will be unveiled at Bethpage Ballpark. Ducks broadcaster Chris King will emcee the ceremonies.

On Thursday, Long Island got on the board in the fourth inning. Randy Ruiz’s first homer of the season since rejoining the Ducks put the team on top 2-0. His two-run shot off of Sugar Land starter Roy Merritt gave the designated hitter his seventh and eighth RBIs of the year, as Lew Ford scored on the hit as well. That was all the offense either side would manage in the game, but all the offense Jannis and a pair of Ducks relievers would need to finish the win. Jannis improved to 5-2 on the season with the victory, tossing seven shutout innings before being pulled. Jannis threw 94 pitches, 55 of which were strikes. He walked three and struck out five, lowering his ERA to 1.32. He is now in sole possession of first place in that category among league leaders, as Somerset’s Sean Bierman falls to second with a 1.39 ERA. Amalio Diaz continued his dominance out of the bullpen with a scoreless eighth frame before closer Ryan Kussmaul was called on to close the game out in the ninth. The righty saved his league-leading 16th game of the year and has now saved Long Island’s last three games. Ford, Mike Blanke, and Dan Lyons all finished with a hit apiece for the Flock.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the series finale

CLICK HERE for the box score from Thursday night

CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Mickey Jannis, Randy Ruiz, and Ryan Kussmaul

The Ducks will send ace John Brownell to the mound in the series opener against Bridgeport on Friday night. The righty enters at 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA. In 59 and two-thirds innings, Brownell has allowed 27 runs (23 earned) on 52 hits while walking 14 and striking out 50. His previous start came against the Bluefish last Saturday night on June 13 in Bridgeport. In five innings, the Bluefish managed 10 hits off of Brownell, scoring five runs (four earned). He walked none and struck out three as the Flock came back for a 9-6 win. Brownell returns for his fourth consecutive season with the Ducks. The two-time Atlantic League champion put together an historic season in 2014. He set new franchise records in games started with 29 and innings pitched with 202, breaking the previous records of 28 (Randy Leek, 2008 and B.J. LaMura, 2009) and 179 (Bob Zimmermann, 2012), respectively. The right-hander led the Atlantic League in both categories along with complete games (5) and finished second in the league in wins (13) and strikeouts (130). Overall, the Nebraska resident was 13-9 with a 3.61 ERA. Prior to the start of the season, fans voted him as the right-handed starting pitcher on the franchise’s 15th Anniversary All-Time Team. The 31-year-old began his career with the Ducks in September of 2012. He made four appearances (three starts) in the regular season before posting a 2.84 ERA in two playoff starts. The following season, he led the Atlantic League with seven complete games and two shutouts while finishing second in strikeouts (133), third in innings pitched (166.1) and ninth in ERA (3.90). The University of Oklahoma alum then won all three of his postseason starts, posted a 2.88 ERA and earned Championship Series MVP honors. In his Ducks career, Brownell is 24-21 with a 3.86 ERA and 278 strikeouts over 59 regular season games (58 starts) and 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 27 strikeouts in five postseason starts.

Bridgeport will try to snap their three-game losing streak against the Ducks with Mike Antonini pitching. The southpaw comes in with a 3-4 record and 3.47 ERA. In nine starts, he has logged 54 and one-third innings, allowing 23 runs (21 earned) on 53 hits. He has walked 11 and struck out 52. Antonini has alternated between wins and losses over his last four starts. On June 10, the Pennsylvania native took a loss in Texas against the Skeeters in a 2-1 Sugar Land win. In seven innings, Antonini allowed both runs on five hits while walking none and striking out five. Antonini joins the Bluefish for his ninth season of professional baseball and second in the Atlantic League. Last year, the left-hander started 19 games for New Jersey of the Independent Can-AM League and racked up nine wins with a 2.84 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 117.1 innings of work. The 29-year-old made his professional debut in 2007 after being drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. He spent four seasons with the Mets, reaching as high as the Triple-A level, before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2011 season, where he also reached Triple-A. In 2013, Antonini joined the independent ranks with Camden of the Atlantic League. In 185 career minor league appearances (144 starts), he owns 46 wins with a 4.13 ERA and 697 strikeouts in 862 and two-thirds innings of work.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Bluefish: Tonight marks the 296th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Bluefish. Bridgeport currently leads the series by a 149-146 margin,  but the Ducks hold an 80-67 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight is also the 11th of 27 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Bluefish lead this year’s series six to four. This season marks the seventh edition of the Ferry Cup Series, with the Ducks winning the Cup in four of the first six years.

All They Do Is Win: Long Island earned their fourth series sweep of the season on Thursday night. Three of those four sweeps have come during the month of June. The Ducks have also won five consecutive series and are unbeaten in their last eight series. Long Island has a 16-1 record in their last 17 games, outscoring opponents 103-44 in that span (6.1 runs scored/game). Their 16 wins in June is one more than they totaled in all of May. In addition, the Flock have won nine straight games at Bethpage Ballpark. The longest home winning streak in team history was 12 games, which was done July 5-20, 2006.

Oh Mickey, You’re So Fine: Mickey Jannis continued his dominance with seven shutout innings on Thursday. In his last 10 games (six starts), the knuckleballer has allowed just five earned runs over 52 innings, good for a 0.87 ERA. In that span, he has given up 30 hits and 15 walks while striking out 40. In his last five starts, the righty is 3-0 with a 0.49 ERA, yielding two earned runs in 37 innings.

Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has earned hits in 11 consecutive games after picking up a single on Thursday. In those 11 games, the former big leaguer is batting .452 (20-for-45) with five doubles, eight RBI, and 10 runs. Ford currently leads the Atlantic League in hits (68), RBI (44), total bases (103), doubles (18) and extra-base hits (24). He is also tied for first in batting average (.340), second in on-base percentage (.409) and slugging percentage (.515), and tied for third in runs (29).

Diaz is Dazzling: Amalio Diaz tossed another scoreless inning of relief Thursday. The right-hander has now made 10 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. In addition, he has given up just one run in his last 20 outings. During those 20 games, Diaz has combined to pitch 20 innings, allowing just 11 hits and one walk while striking out 26 batters.

Randy’s Dandy: Randy Ruiz’s two-run homer Thursday was his first of the year. The longball came in his eighth game since returning to the Ducks on June 9. The former big leaguer launched nine home runs in 45 games with the Flock in 2014.

On the Air: Tonight’s game can be heard on the Ducks’ flagship station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Live streaming video and audio will be available 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:

Ducks

#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#26 Jose Morales – C
#28 Prentice Redman – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#7 John Brownell – RHP

Bluefish

#2 Ethan Chapman – CF
#6 Luis An. Rodriguez – 2B
#19 Welington Dotel – RF
#26 John Alonso – 1B
#32 Andres Rodriguez – DH
#17 Jobduan Morales – C
#27 Frazier Hall – 3B
#3 Jake Luce – LF
#4 Matt Wessinger – SS

#33 Mike Antonini – LHP

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

UPDATE (6:56): TOP 1: John Brownell throws his first pitch and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!

UPDATE (7:23): TOP 3: Matt Wessinger’s solo homer to left has the Bluefish up 1-0.

UPDATE (8:45): BOT 7: Two runs score on Prentice Redman’s single that hit Mike Antonini and Dan Lyons adds a sacrifice fly and RBI! Ducks lead 3-1!

UPDATE (8:48): BOT 7: Reegie Corona makes it 4-1 LI with a RBI hit to center field!

UPDATE (9:09): BOT 8: The Ducks add two more runs thanks to Cody Puckett and Jose Morales! 6-1 LI, Bruce Kern in to try and wrap up the win.

UPDATE (9:19): TOP 9: RBI double from Jake Luce makes it a 6-2 ballgame. One out in the inning, runners on second and third.

UPDATE (9:23): FINAL: Ducks win 6-2! LI takes the series-opener from the Bluefish! Ducks win by FOUR on night of Davies’ jersey retirement!

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Posted on June 19, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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