Game 62: Ducks at Skeeters

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It has been nearly a month between instances where the Ducks lost two consecutive games. Entering this series in Sugar Land, Long Island was playing unquestionably their best baseball of the season and getting everything from timely hitting to strong pitching to stellar defense. However, things have not been the same here in Texas, and despite two great comeback efforts, the Ducks dropped their second in a row in walk-off fashion to the Skeeters on Friday night by a 7-6 margin. With the defeat, Long Island’s six series winning streak will come to an end, as they now need victories in the final two games to salvage a split of the series.

The Ducks overcame a rough start from Billy Buckner, who allowed 11 hits and five runs in just four innings of work, to rally back from two early deficits. After Sugar Land scored three times with two outs in the opening inning, Long Island did the same against Skeeters starter Shane Loux in the third. Lew Ford doubled to the wall in left, scoring Bryan Sabatella, who had also doubled in the inning. Then, Randy Ruiz followed with a mammoth two-run homer to left that hit off of the awning atop the Wells Fargo Picnic Plaza. His second longball of the season tied the game at three. The Skeeters took the lead back with two in the fourth and maintained that lead until the seventh. However, the Ducks stormed back again. Three consecutive one-out hits against Loux, including a two-run double by Delta Cleary, Jr., tied the game at five. After Ford flew out to center, Ruiz put the Ducks on top with a run-scoring single to center.

With Long Island now ahead 6-5, Kevin Baez needed nine more outs from his bullpen to even the series at two. However, Frank DeJiulio, Jr. allowed two hits in the bottom of the frame. Then, with one out, Amadeo Zazueta hit a slow ground ball to short. Dan Lyons got the force out at second, but Blake Davis’ throw to first was wide of the outstretched glove of Jon Griffin, who was trying to keep one foot on the bag. The errant throw allowed Kevin Russo to score from third and tie up the game at six. The Ducks tried to retake the lead in the ninth when they drew two walks against Derrick Loop, but Sabatella was picked off at first, and Ford flew out to right to end the frame. Nick Struck entered in the bottom of the ninth, allowed a leadoff single. Following a sac bunt and an intentional walk, Struck set down Patrick Palmeiro on strikes for the second out. However, Zazueta, who had been the only Skeeter without a hit, doubled down the right field line to bring home Travis Scott with the winning run. Six of Sugar Land’s seven runs scored with two men out, and the Ducks again had to watch the Skeeters celebrate on the field.

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

On Saturday night, the Ducks will turn to the only southpaw in their rotation to try and end the brief skid. Andrew Barbosa will take the mound with a 4-0 record and a 1.84 ERA through seven starts with the Flock. In his last outing on Monday night, the left-hander defeated the Bridgeport Bluefish with seven innings of two-hit one-run ball. He gave up just two walks while striking out seven. Barbosa also earned the win in the start before that, limiting the Skeeters to just three hits and three walks in six innings with seven strikeouts as well. The Ducks have won all seven of Barbosa’s starts this season, and he has allowed one run or less in all but one (June 10 vs. Southern Maryland).

Opposing Barbosa will be Sean Gallagher, who enters with a dismal 1-6 record but has a respectable 3.47 ERA in 12 starts this season. He turned in a pretty strong start his last time out, striking out nine Patriots batters and allowing just three runs on five hits in seven innings. However, Somerset ended up winning the game 3-2 to give Gallagher his second straight loss. The first of those two defeats came against the Ducks on June 17 where he received just one run of support. The righty allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings. He also pitched well against the Flock on May 3, surrendering one run on four hits over seven inning with six strikeouts but took a no-decision in Sugar Land’s 8-4 win. Gallagher has allowed three runs or less in nine of his 12 starts this season but has received a combined 39 runs of support (3.25/game).

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 71st all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 37-33 and holds a 23-11 advantage at Constellation Field. Tonight is also the 11th of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The Ducks lead the series six to four.

No Swoon in June: Despite Friday’s loss, the Ducks still have a 21-4 record this June, outscoring opponents 152-77 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 won each of the previous six series they played in June as well.

Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has now reached base safely in 19 straight games, earning a hit in 18 of those. The 19-game on-base streak is tied with Prentice Redman for the longest by a Duck this season. In those 19 games, the outfielder is batting .413 (31-for-75) with seven doubles, one homer, 13 RBI and 17 runs. Ford leads the Atlantic League in batting average (.343), RBI (49), hits (79), total bases (119), doubles (20), extra-base hits (27) and slugging percentage (.517).

Randy Rakes: Randy Ruiz has earned multiple hits in five of his last six games and seven of his last nine contests. In those nine games, he has a .412 batting average (14-for-34) with three doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and seven runs. Ruiz’s two-run homer was his second of 2015, both against Sugar Land.

Sabatella’s Sizzling: Bryan Sabatella has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games after collecting two hits Saturday. In those 19 contests, the Long Island native is batting .386 (32-for-83) with three doubles, one triple, 11 RBI and 17 runs. He now leads the league in runs (44) and stolen bases (16).

I Can See Cleary Now: Delta Cleary, Jr. earned his fifth three-hit game of the season on Friday. That’s just one shy of Cody Puckett for the team lead. The outfielder now has 10 multi-hit games this year. He also drove in two runs for the fifth time this season. He is now batting .313 this year.

Bobby’s Back: Bobby Blevins made his season debut with the Ducks and threw two scoreless innings of relief. It was his first action with Long Island since September 20, 2014 vs. Southern Maryland. He began the season pitching for Brother Elephants in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Entering 2015, Blevins is 11-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 35 games (33 starts) as a Duck.

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. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#50 Randy Ruiz – 1B
#26 Jose Morales – C
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#27 Prentice Redman – LF
#22 Blake Davis – 3B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS

#49 Andrew Barbosa – LHP

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

#36 Sean Gallagher – RHP

We’ll have updates all evening long as the Ducks and Skeeters battle it out for the fifth time this week. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (5:38): The tarp has been put on the field in Sugar Land. Heavy winds and rain entering the area. No update on the start of the game yet. Stay tuned

UPDATE (5:49): Tarp is coming off the field now, and there is a gorgeous rainbow beyond the left field wall!

UPDATE (6:39): BOT 1: Willy Taveras hits a two-run home run to left field to put the Skeeters on top 2-0.

UPDATE (6:58): TOP 2: Ducks tie the game at two on a RBI single by Dan Lyons and a bases loaded walk to Bryan Sabatella!

UPDATE (7:26): BOT 3: Taveras hits his second homer of the game up onto the Picnic Plaza. His solo shot makes it 3-2 Skeeters.

UPDATE (7:48): BOT 4: Skeeters grab another run on Patrick Palmeiro’s RBI single. However, Andrew Barbosa strikes out Delwyn Young to leave the bases loaded!

UPDATE (8:07): END 5: Barbosa strikes out Kevin Russo to end a 1-2-3 fifth inning! The southpaw has eight strikeouts on the night!

UPDATE (8:18): TOP 6: The Ducks close to within one on a RBI triple to left-center by Lyons! Skeeters lead is now down to 4-3

UPDATE (8:40): TOP 7: Ducks still trail Skeeters by one after Randy Ruiz’s fly ball to right appeared to be trapped by Delwyn Young but was ruled an out.

UPDATE (9:04): BOT 8: After committing an error, Amalio Diaz induces a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning! Still 4-3 as we move to the ninth.

UPDATE (9:15): FINAL: Randy Ruiz grounds out to second to end the ballgame, and Sugar Land escapes with a 4-3 victory.

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Posted on June 27, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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