Game 71: Ducks at Patriots
The All-Star break has come and gone, and it is now time for the Atlantic League’s second half to begin! The Ducks will kick things off against the Somerset Patriots, who took first place in the Liberty Division and a spot in the postseason with a 50-win first half. The Ducks will now take on the Pats in nine of their next 20 contests, after facing them just seven times before the All-Star break.
Long Island and Somerset also went into the break by playing a three-game set at Bethpage Ballpark. The Ducks took the series two games to one, thanks to a 9-4 victory in the series finale. Once again, it was the Patriots striking early against Ducks pitching. Michael Burgess put the Pats on top 3-0 with a three-run homer off of Ducks starter Bruce Kern. However, the Flock responded with a dinger of their own, a two-run shot from Lew Ford in the home half of the first. The homer came off of Pats starter Sean Bierman, who entered as one of the top pitchers in the Atlantic League with a 1.55 ERA and just one loss to seven wins. Ford struck again in the fourth with a solo shot, a leadoff homer for his eighth of the season. Prentice Redman added a RBI single in the inning to put the Ducks on top 4-3. In the sixth, Greg Hopkins tied it for Somerset with a solo homer. Cody Puckett gave Long Island the run back in the bottom of the inning thanks to a one-out RBI double. Bierman was then pulled from the game with a leg injury after allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits through five and one-third. He was on the hook for the loss. Kern got through six frames, allowing four runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. His curveball was the key to his success on Sunday, a pitch he spotted and used often for strikeouts. The Ducks added another run in the seventh on Mike Blanke’s third homer of the year, and three more in the eighth to finish off the 9-4 “W.”
Kern earned the win to improve to 4-1 during his first year with the Ducks, while Bierman fell to 7-2. J.C. Romero and Ryan Kussmaul held the Patriots scoreless through the final three frames. Ford went into the All-Star break with a monster game. Lew’s final line: 4-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R. Every starter in the Ducks lineup finished with at least one hit except for Delta Cleary, Jr., as Long Island racked up 14 on the day.
The Ducks will kick off their three-game set at TD Bank Ballpark with John Brownell on the hill. The righty enters Friday’s contest at 6-1 with a 3.23 ERA. In 80 and two-thirds innings, he has surrendered 33 runs (29 earned) on 68 hits while walking 19 and striking out 64. The fourth-year Duck pitched in Somerset on May 27, a 7-6 Ducks win. Brownell pitched six innings and allowed six runs on seven hits. Somerset scored all six of their runs in the fourth inning. Brownell allowed just one hit in the other five innings he tossed. His previous outing came on June 30 in Central Islip. The Ducks defeated the Lancaster Barnstormers 3-2, as Brownell allowed one run on five hits in seven strong innings.
The Patriots will send southpaw Matt Zielinski to the bump. The 2014 “Left-Handed Pitcher of the Year” is 3-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 2015. Of the 12 games he has pitched in, 11 have been starts. In 79 and two-thirds innings, Zielinski has allowed 27 runs (24 earned) on 61 hits with 13 walks and 42 strikeouts. The lefty took a loss to the Ducks on May 30 in Somerset when Long Island won 3-0. He allowed three runs on nine hits in seven innings. On July 2, the 27-year-old earned a win against the Camden Riversharks by tossing six innings two-run ball.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight marks the 293rd all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset leads the series 147-145 and has a 76-67 advan- tage at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight also marks the eighth of 20 scheduled games between the two in 2015. The Ducks lead the series four games to three. Sunday was the first meeting this year that was not decided by three runs or less.
Home Cooking: With Sunday’s win over the Patriots, the Ducks have won 19 of their last 20 games at Bethpage Ballpark dating back to June 1. Long Island currently boasts a league best 28-7 record at home (.800 winning percentage). As a team, the Ducks have a .314 batting average and a 3.07 ERA when at home. On the road, they are batting .264 and have a 3.36 ERA.
Ford’s Fury: Lew Ford has now reached base safely in 28 straight games after collecting four hits on Sunday. The streak is the longest by a Duck and second- longest in the Atlantic League this year (30, Brandon Chaves, Camden). In those 28 games, he is batting .432 (48-for-111) with 13 doubles, three homers, 22 RBI and 24 runs. The former big leaguer has hit safely in six consecutive games and in 13 of his last 14 contests. He has multiple hits in 10 of those 13 games.
Monster Day: Ford collected his team-high third four-hit game on Sunday. He also tallied four hits on May 15 against Lancaster and May 12 against Bridgeport. The outfielder leads the Flock with 33 multi-hit games in 2015. With three runs batted in, the outfielder earned his team high 17th multi-RBI contest. Ford also became the first Duck with four runs scored in a single game this season. Bill Hall and Randy Ruiz were the only Ducks to score four runs in a game last year.
Lovin’ the Longball: The Ducks tied a season high with three home runs in Sunday’s game. They also had three longballs on May 2 vs. Sugar Land and May 14 vs. Bridgeport. Ford’s two homers increased his season total to eight and made him the third Duck with a multi-homer game this year. Cody Puckett (5/2) and Jon Griffin (5/14) were the others. Mike Blanke’s solo homer was his third of the year and first at home. His first two came on June 13 and 14 at Bridgeport.
Randy’s Dandy: Randy Ruiz extended his hitting streak to nine consecutive games with two hits on Sunday. During the streak, the former Major Leaguer is batting .350 (14-for-40) with two homers, 11 RBI and four runs scored. He also collected his second straight multi-hit game and fourth during the hitting streak. Ruiz now has 12 multi-hit contests in 23 games with the Ducks this season.
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. Chris Buckley 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
#11 Reegie Corona – 2B
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#27 Prentice Redman – LF
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#7 John Brownell – RHP
#4 James Skelton – C
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#8 David Vidal – 1B
#39 Michael Burgess – RF
#20 Greg Hopkins – 3B
#9 Mat Gamel – DH
#3 Nate Spears – 2B
#13 Robert Andino – SS
#14 Vinny Zarrillo – CF
#31 Matt Zielinski – LHP
Keep it here for updates all game long from New Jersey as the Ducks open up their series against the Somerset Patriots! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (7:25): BOT 1: Somerset goes on top 1-0 on a RBI ground out from Michael Burgess.
UPDATE (7:59): TOP 5: Ducks coming up to bat trying to spark the offense! LI still trails 1-0.
UPDATE (8:32): MID 6: Ducks still trail 1-0. John Brownell trying to keep the Pats off the scoreboard!
UPDATE (8:57): BOT 7: Ducks trail 2-0 after Michael Burgess’ homer in the sixth, Patrick Crider now in to try and keep it a two-run contest!
UPDATE (9:23): TOP 9: Ducks still trail 2-0. One more shot with Ruiz, Puckett, and Griffin coming up!
UPDATE (9:33): FINAL: Ducks fall 2-0 in opener.