Game 91: Ducks vs. Bluefish
After winning the middle game of three against the Somerset Patriots, the Ducks were in position to take the series on Thursday night at Bethpage Ballpark. However, Somerset’s offense proved to be too much for Long Island pitching, as the Flock dropped the finale, 7-3. The Ducks sit 5 ½ games back of the Patriots, who passed the Bluefish in the Liberty Division with the win and currently hold a half-game lead overall. Long Island now hosts Bridgeport in a crucial four-game set in Central Islip.
Things got off to a good start for the Ducks in their series finale with Somerset, as the team put up a run in the first inning. Delta Cleary, Jr.’s RBI groundout plated Fehlandt Lentini from third, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Long Island starter Darin Downs cruised through his first two innings, but hit a major bump in the third. The Pats put up three runs and took a 3-1 lead on RBI singles from Thomas Neal and Vinny Zarrillo, as well as a run-scoring wild pitch. They did the same thing just one inning later, this time using an Adam Donachie two-run double and another RBI single from Neal to go on top 6-1. The Patriots added their final run in the fifth on a David Vidal solo homer off of Billy Buckner. Buckner, who had only ever started for the Ducks, made his first relief appearance and allowed the lone run on four hits in five innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. The Ducks put up one run in the seventh and ninth on a run-scoring wild pitch and Randy Ruiz RBI single, respectively. However, with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the last inning, Cody Puckett grounded out to end the game.
Downs suffered the loss for Long Island, bringing him to 0-3 on the season. Somerset reliever Kyler Newby improved to 7-2 with the win, throwing two innings of relief in the fifth and sixth. Jon Hunton earned his 25th save by securing the final out of the game with the tying run on deck for the Ducks. Lentini, Ruiz, and Bryan Sabatella each had a pair of hits for Long Island in the loss.
CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the series finale
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Kevin Baez and Bryan Sabatella
CLICK HERE to view Thursday’s box score
The Ducks now open their pivotal four-game home set against Bridgeport with John Brownell on the hill. Brownell enters the opener at 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 16 starts. Across 108 and two-thirds innings, the righty has allowed 42 runs (37 earned) on 91 hits while walking 27 and striking out 87. Brownell’s last start came against the Bluefish in Bridgeport, a 3-2 ‘Fish victory. The Ducks ace tossed seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits but suffered his third loss of the season. In 2015, Brownell has a 3.94 ERA against the Bluefish and a 3-2 record in 32 innings of work.
Bridgeport counters with Kameron Loe, who also pitched in the last series between the two teams a week ago. The former big leaguer is currently 3-2 with a 3.91 ERA in seven starts since June 20. Loe has allowed 22 runs (19 earned) on 42 hits in 43 and two-thirds innings while walking five and striking out 37. In his last outing against the Ducks on July 26, Loe took a no decision although the Bluefish won in walkoff fashion in a 2-1 final. The 33-year-old allowed one run on six hits in seven innings of work. He also struck out six batters for the fourth straight start.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Bluefish: Tonight marks the 303rd all-time meeting between the Ducks and Bluefish. The Bluefish currently lead the series 152-150, but the Ducks hold an 84-67 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. It is also the 18th of 27 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. Bridgeport lead the series nine to eight. This year marks the seventh edition of the Ferry Cup Series. The Ducks have won the Cup in four of the first six years, including each of the last two.
Home Cooking: Despite Thursday’s loss, the Ducks still sport a home record of 32-13 this season. Their .711 home winning percentage is currently the best in the Atlantic League. Somerset ranks second at .681 (32-15). As a team, the Ducks have a .300 batting average and 3.18 ERA at home. Comparatively, they have a .261 batting average and a 3.29 ERA away from Bethpage Ballpark.
Fehlandt’s on Fire: Fehlandt Lentini earned his third consecutive multi-hit game since rejoining the Flock with two more hits on Thursday. In the three games against the Patriots, he collected seven hits in 14 at bats (.500 AVG) with two doubles, one RBI and two runs scored. The outfielder compiled a .319 batting average with five RBI in 2014 against Somerset.
Two-fer Thursday: Randy Ruiz and Bryan Sabatella each added two hits on Thursday as well. Sabatella now has 23 two-hit games in 2015, which ranks second on the team behind Lew Ford (26). Ruiz has totaled 17 two-hit games this season. Overall, Sabatella has picked up 30 multi-hit contests in 83 games, while Ruiz has 19 multi-hit games in 42 contests with the Flock this year.
Strikeout Artists: Darin Downs and Billy Buckner combined to strike out 11 Somerset batters on Thursday. That total was just three shy of the most by Ducks pitching in a single game this year. Long Island struck out 14 Sugar Land batters on May 3. As a staff, the Ducks have struck out a league-high 720 batters in 2015. That’s 70 more than any other team (Lancaster, 650). Downs has collected 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings, and Buckner has 53 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.
Welcome to the Hit Parade: Cody Puckett extended his hitting streak to seven consecutive games with a single on Thursday. During the streak, the third baseman is batting .357 (10-for-28) with four runs scored. Bryan Sabatella has now earned at least one hit in 10 of his last 11 games. During the 11-game stretch, the Long Island native has a .289 batting average (13-for-45) with three runs scored.
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 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:
#22 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr.
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#44 Bryan Sabatella – LF
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#11 Blake Davis – 2B
#7 John Brownell – RHP
#12 Josh Prince – SS
#6 Bryant Nelson – 2B
#19 Welington Dotel – RF
#26 John Alonso – DH
#17 Jobduan Morales – C
#22 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#25 Wilson Batista – 3B
#16 Brandon Jones – LF
#7 Ethan Chapman – CF
#34 Kameron Loe – RHP
Keep it here for updates all game long from Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks open their four-game series against the Bridgeport Bluefish! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (6:41): TOP 1: John Brownell kicks and fires, and our series opener with Bridgeport is underway at the Duck Pond!
UPDATE (7:26): BOT 3: Dan Lyons with the RBI single to open the scoring! 1-0 Ducks, bases still loaded with one away!
UPDATE (7:26): BOT 3: Delta Cleary, Jr. follows up with a RBI single of his own! 2-0 Flock!
UPDATE (7:42): TOP 4: Sean Burroughs hits a two-run homer and the game is tied 2-2.
UPDATE (8:02): BOT 5: Dan Lyons with a sacrifice fly and RBI, and a run scores on an overthrown ball to third as well! 4-2 Ducks!
UPDATE (8:12): TOP 6: A two-run homer from Sean Burroughs, his second of the night, ties the game 4-4.
UPDATE (8:43): TOP 8: Wilson Batista hits a RBI single to right field to put the ‘Fish ahead 5-4.
UPDATE (9:05): TOP 9: Bryant Nelson adds an insurance run with a solo homer to right. 6-4 Bluefish.
UPDATE (9:25): FINAL: The Bluefish win the opener 6-4.