Game 61: Ducks at Skeeters

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On Wednesday night, the Ducks were feeling immense joy while the Skeeters suffered through disappointment after Long Island rallied for three runs in the ninth inning and a stunning 5-4 victory. One night later, those same feelings were reversed. The Ducks, who had jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then later took a 7-4 advantage, ended up walking off the field after Denny Almonte’s solo homer on the first pitch of the 11th inning gave the Skeeters an 8-7 victory. Not to mention, the Somerset Patriots rallied for six runs in the ninth at Lancaster to win 8-5, meaning the Ducks fell to three and a half games back in the Liberty Division.

In the early going on Thursday, the Ducks again took advantage of defensive miscues by the Skeeters. The fourth inning began with a walk to Delta Cleary, Jr. and was followed up by errors on the right-fielder Travis Scott and the pitcher Matt Wright, the latter of which scored a run. Jon Griffin followed them up with a three-run home run to left, the Ducks’ first homer of the series, and Long Island led 4-0 with their ace, John Brownell, on the mound. However, after a strong start, the righty faltered in the fourth and fifth. He allowed back-to-back hits to open the fourth followed by two RBI groundouts that cut Long Island’s lead to 4-2. Then in the fifth, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Delwyn Young. He would reach on an infield single to first that plated a run, and then Brownell would walk Scott to force in another on a borderline pitch that ultimately caused an argument from Marty Janzen and resulted in his ejection.

With the score tied at four, the Ducks were able to get the lead back again in the seventh. A walk, a single and a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners with two outs against James Parr. Lew Ford then chopped a grounder over the mound and beat out the throw from Amadeo Zazueta for a RBI infield single. Then in the ninth, the Ducks added two insurance runs on a RBI single from Blake Davis and a run-scoring fielder’s choice from Ford. Leading 7-4 and heading to the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Baez called upon the Atlantic League leader in saves, Ryan Kussmaul, to shut the door. However, he surrendered three straight hits to open the inning, including a RBI single by Almonte. After a strikeout of Willy Taveras, the righty then allowed a RBI single by Young and a sac fly from Scott that tied the game at seven. With the save blown, Kussmaul got out of further trouble on a foul popup from Chris Wallace. Two innings later, after the Ducks were retired in order in both the 10th and 11th, Almonte hit the game winning homer to right on Mark Rogers’ first pitch in the 11th.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from Thursday’s game
CLICK HERE to view Thursday’s box score

Long Island will look to rebound on Friday night in the fourth game of the series. Billy Buckner will get the start, as he makes his seventh start of the season. Thus far, he is 4-1 but has a 4.61 ERA. In his last outing, the former Major Leaguer was tagged for four runs on eight hits and five walks in five innings against the Bluefish on June 20. However, he got plenty of run support in a 12-6 Ducks victory. Thus far, the right-hander has followed up one rocky start with one good one, so he is line for a better outing this evening. It will be his first-ever start against Sugar Land.

As for the Skeeters, they will counter with Shane Loux, who enters with a 3-3 record and a 2.67 ERA through 11 starts in 2015. Despite turning in a quality start his last time out, he suffered the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts over seven innings in a 3-0 loss at Somerset on June 20. Loux has been very strong over his last five starts, combining for a 3-1 record and a 1.45 ERA, allowing just five runs over 31 innings of work. His lone start against the Ducks came back on May 2 when he took a no-decision, allowing a run on two hits and two walks while striking out two over five innings. The only run scored on a Cody Puckett solo homer. However, the Flock broke out the bats in an eight-run sixth for a 10-2 victory at Bethpage Ballpark.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 70th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 36-33 and holds a 22-11 advantage at Constellation Field. Tonight is also the 10th of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks lead the series six to three.

No Swoon in June: Despite Thursday’s loss, the Ducks still have a 21-3 record this June, outscoring opponents 146-70 in that span (6.1 runs scored/game). Their 21 wins in June are one shy of the club record for wins in a month. Long Island won 22 games in August of 2000 and July of 2003. The Ducks have won each of the six series they have play so far in June as well.

Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has now reached base safely in 18 straight games, earning a hit in 17 of those. The 18-game on-base streak is one game shy of the longest by a Duck this season (19, Prentice Redman). In those 18 games, Ford is batting .414 (29-for-70) with six doubles, one homer, 12 RBI and 16 runs. The sixth-year Duck now leads the Atlantic League in batting average (.342), RBI (48), hits (77), total bases (116), extra-base hits (26) and slugging percentage (.516).

La Bateador Mas Fina: Reegie Corona extended his hitting streak to seven straight games with two hits on Thursday. He has multiple hits in four of those seven contests. During the streak, the first-year Duck is batting .448 (13-for-29) with two doubles, two triples, six RBI and six runs scored.

Griffin Goes Yard: Jon Griffin’s three-run home run on Thursday was his team leading ninth homer of the year. He is now tied with three other players for the Atlantic League lead. Five of his homers have come on the road, and two have now been three-run blasts (May 22 vs. Camden).

Diaz Dazzles: Amalio Diaz continued his dominance out of the bullpen with another scoreless inning of relief on Thursday. The righty has now made 12 straight appearances without allowing a run. In addition, he has given up just one run in his last 22 outings. In that span, Diaz has combined to pitch 22 innings, yielding just 11 hits and one walk while striking out 28.

Sabatella’s Sizzling: Bryan Sabatella has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games entering Friday’s action. In those 18 contests, the Long Island native is batting .380 (30-for-79) with two doubles, one triple, 11 RBI and 15 runs. He currently leads the league in runs (42), at-bats (233) and stolen bases (16).

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. 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
#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#5   Delta Cleary, Jr. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#22 Blake Davis – 2B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#29 Billy Buckner – RHP

Skeeters
#17 Denny Almonte – CF
#11 Willy Taveras – DH
#24 Delwyn Young – RF
#16 Travis Scott – 1B
#5   Kevin Russo – SS
#25 Johan Limonta – LF
#6   Patrick Palmeiro – 3B
#9   Amadeo Zazueta – 2B
#29 Kelly Cross – C

#34 Matt Wright – RHP

Keep it here for updates throughout the game as the Ducks look to respond and even up the series with the Skeeters. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (7:06): We are underway at Constellation Field! Another warm and humid night here in Texas.

UPDATE (7:32): BOT 1: Skeeters score three runs, all with two outs. RBI singles from Travis Scott and Johan Limonta, along with a RBI double by Kevin Russo

UPDATE (8:01): TOP 3: Two-out thunder again, this time for the Ducks! Lew Ford with a RBI double, and Randy Ruiz with a two-run home run! 3-3 ballgame

UPDATE (8:25): BOT 4: Sugar Land takes the lead back on a solo homer by Kelly Cross and a two-out RBI double by Scott. 5-3 Skeeters.

UPDATE (8:41): BOT 5: Bobby Blevins makes his season debut for the Ducks and tosses a 1-2-3 inning, inducing a pop out, a strikeout and a fly out!

UPDATE (9:11): TOP 7: The Ducks strike for three and now lead 6-5! Delta Cleary, Jr. with a two-run double and Ruiz with a RBI single!

UPDATE (9:23): BOT 7: The Skeeters pull even when Russo scores on an errant throw by Blake Davis from second. All tied at six.

UPDATE (10:05): FINAL: Two-out RBI double down the right field line by Amadeo Zazueta gives the Skeeters the 7-6 win. Four straight one-run games.

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Posted on June 26, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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