Game 69: Ducks vs. Patriots
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the Ducks, this proved true on Friday night, as the team dropped its first home contest since May 31, a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Somerset Patriots. The loss snapped a 17-game winning streak at Bethpage Ballpark for the Ducks, as they close out the first half with two more games against the Patriots on Saturday and Sunday.
Ducks starter Ian Marshal struggled early in his outing, allowing two runs in the first frame. Michael Burgess had a RBI double and Mat Gamel hit a RBI single to put the Pats up 2-0. However, in the home half of the second, Dan Lyons continued his power surge, as the Long Island shortstop simply smashed a three-run homer out of the ballpark to left field. It was Lyons’ fifth homer of the year, his most round-trippers in a season since becoming a Duck. He had four in all of 2014. However, the lead was short-lived, as the Patriots scored a run in the third and fourth to go on top 4-3. Long Island was able to tie things up at four in the seventh frame thanks to Delta Cleary, Jr.’s RBI single to right, which got Marshall off the hook. The righty went seven innings and allowed four runs on nine hits with five strikeouts. He did not walk a batter for the first time since his first start of the year in York on April 26.
Things got difficult for the Ducks in the eighth. J.C. Romero made his second straight appearance for the Flock, allowing a leadoff single before getting two straight outs. Manager Kevin Baez went to his bullpen, bringing in Nick Struck. The right-hander allowed a double and issued a walk to load the bases for the lefty-hitting James Skelton. Skelton delivered for Somerset with a bases-clearing double to left, giving the Pats a 7-4 lead. Struck was then ejected from the game by home plate umpire Richard Katz for arguing balls and strikes (primarily from the previous at-bat in which he walked Nate Spears after being ahead 1-2 in the count before throwing three straight balls off the outside corner). Baez was then ejected as well. Frank DeJiulio, Jr. finished the inning. In the ninth, the Ducks put up one run on Randy Ruiz’s RBI single to center, but Jon Griffin grounded out with runners on the corners to end the game, a 7-5 final.
Romero took the loss for the Ducks by allowing the leadoff runner to reach base in the eighth inning before Struck allowed the double to Skelton. Kyler Newby got the win for the Patriots with an inning of relief in the seventh, while Jon Hunton earned the save. Lew Ford continued to hit, picking up two more hits to raise his average to .354.
CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the series-opener
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Kevin Baez and Dan Lyons
CLICK HERE to view Friday’s box score
The Ducks will try and win the middle game of the July 4th weekend series with Somerset when they hand the ball to righty Bobby Blevins in Saturday’s contest. Now in his fourth consecutive season with the Ducks, Blevins will make his first start of the year for the Ducks since rejoining the team on June 19. He has made one appearance this year for Long Island, pitching two shutout innings of relief on June 26 in Sugar Land. He allowed one hit and struck out two. The 30-year-old first joined the Ducks in August of 2012 and went 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA in six games (four starts). He followed that up by posting a 3.75 ERA in two postseason starts, helping the Ducks to an Atlantic League championship.
The Patriots will try and swipe the middle game of the set with right-hander Randy Boone taking the mound. Boone comes in at 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA, having allowed 24 runs (20 earned) on 58 hits in 75 and two-thirds innings. He has walked 11 and struck out 41. His lone start of the year came back on May 27 in Somerset when the Ducks defeated the Pats 7-6. Boone went five innings and allowed five runs on eight hits but took a no decision. His last outing came on June 29 in Camden when he earned his fourth win by allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits in seven innings. The former Blue Jays farmhand suffered his only loss of the season in his first start on April 26 in Southern Maryland.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
The Faithful Flock: Friday’s crowd of 7,005 was the second-largest of 2015 at Bethpage Ballpark. The most was on Thursday when 7,087 were in attendance. Friday was also the first time the Ducks welcomed back-to-back crowds of 7,000+ since July 3 and 4 of 2010 when 7,004 and 7,269 fans enjoyed back-to-back wins over the Newark Bears. The sold out crowd was Long Island’s fourth of the year and 643rd all-time, which is an Atlantic League record. Since the inaugural 2000 season, the Ducks have welcomed a league record 6,445,318 fans.
Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight marks the 291st all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset leads the series 147-143, but the Ducks have a 76-71 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. It also marks the sixth of 20 scheduled games between the two in 2015. The Patriots currently lead the series three to two.
Home Cooking: Despite Friday’s loss, the Ducks have won 17 of their last 18 games at Bethpage Ballpark. It was their first loss at home since May 31. The 17 straight victories accounted for the longest home winning streak in team history, surpassing the 12-game streak from July 5-20, 2006. The Ducks currently boast a league best 26-7 record at home (.788 winning percentage).
Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has now reached base safely in 26 straight games after collecting two hits on Thursday. The streak is the longest by a Duck and second-longest in the Atlantic League this year (30, Brandon Chaves, Camden). In those 26 games, he is batting .422 (43-for-102) with 12 doubles, one homer, 19 RBI and 20 runs. The former big leaguer also earned his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and eighth multi-hit contest in his last nine games, earning two hits each time. Ford leads the Ducks with 25 two-hit games and 32 multi-hit contests.
Dan’s the Man: Dan Lyons hit his fifth home run of the season with a three-run blast in the second inning. That’s more than he has ever hit in a single season with the Flock, and all of his longballs have come since June 9, a span of 22 games. With three hits on Friday, he earned his sixth three-hit game of 2015, which puts him in a four-way tie for the team lead. He also drove in three runs for a team high fifth time this year. He now has 15 multi-hit and 10 multi-RBI games.
Three’s Company: Reegie Corona also had three hits on Friday, picking up his second three-hit contest in his last three games. The infielder is tied for the team lead with six three-hit games and has 25 multi-hit contests in 2015. Corona has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, batting .429 (24-for-56) in that span.
Off to the Races: Bryan Sabatella picked up his 19th stolen base of the year on Friday when he swiped second in the seventh inning. That total is currently tied with Bridgeport’s Welington Dotel for the most in the Atlantic League. As a team, the Ducks have stolen 73 bases in 2015, which is four more than anyone else in the league (Bridgeport, 69). Long Island also has an .811 stolen base percentage.
On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, 103.9-FM LI News Radio. Live streaming video and audio will also be available online via the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. 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:
#44 Bryan Sabatella – RF
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#50 Randy Ruiz – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#27 Prentice Redman – LF
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#22 Blake Davis – 2B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#18 Bobby Blevins – RHP
#24 Thomas Neal – DH
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#8 David Vidal – C
#5 Scott Cousins – CF
#20 Greg Hopkins – 3B
#39 Michael Burgess – RF
#13 Robert Andino – SS
#9 Mat Gamel – 1B
#15 Jose Garcia Reyes – 2B
#36 Randy Boone – RHP
Keep it here for updates all game long from Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks and Patriots continue their three-game series! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (6:39): TOP 1: Bobby Blevins kicks and deals and our 4th of July contest is underway from the Duck Pond!
UPDATE (6:44): TOP 1: David Vidal with a RBI double and the Pats take a 1-0 lead.
UPDATE (7:03): TOP 2: RBI single from Jose Garcia Reyes and Somerset takes a 2-0 lead.
UPDATE (7:41): BOT 3: RANDY RUIZ–GONE! A GRAND SLAM! Ducks lead 4-2!!!
UPDATE (7:46): BOT 4: Mike Blanke extends the lead to 5-2 on a RBI single to right!
UPDATE (7:57): TOP 4: Thomas Neal with a two-run single and the LI lead is cut to 5-4.
UPDATE (9:02): TOP 8: Amalio Diaz comes in to replace Patrick Crider and Nick Struck, with the Ducks still on top 5-4!
UPDATE (9:05): TOP 8: Robert Andino ties the game at five with a solo homer to left.
UPDATE (9:53): FINAL: Randy Ruiz wins it for LI! He singles to left and scores Bryan Sabatella, finishing with five RBI on the night! Waddle off!