Game 95: Ducks at Skeeters

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One long homestand has come to an end, and another one sits just a short ways down the road (Sunday). Long Island ended their most recent one on a high note, taking the final two games of a four-game series with Bridgeport to salvage a split with their cross-sound rivals. The Ducks will surely be looking to get the next one off to a good start, as they face a Camden Riversharks squad that is currently 8-17 in the second half and 36-59 on the year. Before that though, they’ll have a tough four-game series against the Sugar Land Skeeters, in a place that has caused them some frustrating moments over the last three seasons.

Before we preview the series in Texas, and specifically today’s game, let’s recap Monday’s 5-2 victory over the Bluefish on Camp Day at Bethpage Ballpark. Once again, Bruce Kern turned in a strong performance on the mound for Long Island. In his second start since earning a spot in the rotation, the righty turned in another quality start. After two scoreless innings, he ran into some trouble with two outs and one on the third. He walked Bryant Nelson after a close call that just missed the strike zone, and Welington Dotel followed with a RBI double. Kern followed with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, but again had trouble with two outs in the fifth. He surrendered a single to Josh Prince before Nelson brought him home with a run-scoring double to left-center. Once gain though, Kern rebounded with a scoreless inning in the sixth to end his start on a high note. He ultimately gave up five hits and two walks over his six innings of two-run ball and stuck out three to earn the victory.

At the plate, Long Island was quiet over the first two innings against Cody Scarpetta. However, they erupted in the third for what proved to be the difference maker in the game. The inning began with a single from Steve McQuail, but a fly out from Blake Davis and a pop out from Fehlandt Lentini quickly hushed the excitement. However, the Ducks received a break when Prince threw high to first on a grounder by Delta Cleary, Jr., and the error kept the inning alive. Determined to take advantage with new life, Dan Lyons drew a walk to load the bases for Cody Puckett. After a good battle, Puckett induced a comebacker to the mound that Scarpetta tried to grab with his bare hand but could not do so cleanly. The infield single scored McQuail to tie the game at one. Mike Blanke followed and delivered the big blow, scorching a bases clearing, three-run double off the left-center field wall, just narrowly missing a grand slam. The hit gave the Ducks a 4-1 lead, and they would never look back. Even after surrendering the run in the fifth, the Ducks answered immediately on a RBI single from Lyons after Cleary, Jr. reached on a dropped third strike and stole second base. From that point on, Kern and the trio of Donnie Veal, Nick Struck and Amalio Diaz closed the door on a strong end to the homestand.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from Monday’s game
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Bruce Kern and Mike Blanke
CLICK HERE to view Monday’s game box score

With the homestand in the rear view mirror, the Ducks now head to Texas, looking to avenge a tough series loss earlier this season. In fact, that was the only series the Ducks lost during their 23-6 month of June. The Skeeters took five of the six games, with the only Long Island victory coming thanks to a two-out error in the ninth inning by Delwyn Young that kept the game alive. With the series loss, the Ducks went from being a game and a half out of first place to four and a half out, delivering a big blow to their hopes at the First Half Liberty Division title. Constellation Field has been a tough place for the Flock overall. They lost three straight after winning the first four of a series in September, 2014 to severely hurt their hopes of a playoff berth, and in 2013, they went 0-10 in the Lone Star state. Long Island is obviously hoping that this go-round will be different.

Taking the mound for the Ducks in the opener is Ian Marshall. The right-hander has turned in three consecutive quality starts entering Wednesday’s contest. In those three, he has combined to allow six earned runs in 18 innings (3.00 ERA) on 19 hits and 10 walks while striking out 11. His last start came a week ago against the Somerset Patriots, and he took a no-decision, pitching six innings of two-run (one earned) ball in a 4-2 victory. Marshall pitched twice in Texas earlier this year, taking the loss both times. He threw seven innings of two-run ball in the opener, but received only one run of support, and then threw six and two-thirds innings of four-run ball in a 4-2 loss to close the set. Overall in 2015, Marshall has a 2.63 ERA in four starts, yielding eight runs (seven earned) on 19 hits and seven walks over 24 innings while striking out 12. He is 4-5 on the year with a 3.38 ERA.

Opposing him will be Roy Merritt, who has pitched very well for the Skeeters in 2015. The southpaw has made 13 appearances (11 starts) this year and is 4-3 with a 1.44 ERA, allowing just 10 walks while striking out 44 in 68 and one-third innings. His last start came at Camden on Thursday, and he earned the win, tossing seven innings of one-run ball, giving up just five hits and a walk while striking out six. The Atlantic League veteran has collected the win in three of his last four outings overall. Merritt has been terrific in two starts this season against the Ducks, giving up just three runs on 11 hits and no walks in 13 innings while striking out five. However, the Ducks have won both games, a 2-0 victory on Long Island June 18 and a 5-4 win in Texas on June 24.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 73rd all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 39-33 and holds a 25-11 advantage at Constellation Field. Tonight is also the 13th of 19 scheduled games between the two teams in 2015. The series is currently tied at six apiece.

Home Cooking: Monday’s victory improved the Ducks’ home record this season to 34-15. Their .694 home winning percentage is currently the best in the Atlantic League. Somerset is second at .681 (32-15). As a team, the Ducks have a .296 batting average and 3.21 ERA at home. Comparatively, they have a .261 batting average and a 3.29 ERA away from Bethpage Ballpark.

Starter Success: Bruce Kern continued his dominance on the mound as a starter on Monday. In five starts this year, the right-hander has compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.77 ERA. In 26 innings, he has given up just eight earned runs on 20 hits and four walks while striking out 21 batters. The Long Island native has also now tossed back-to-back quality starts.

Dan’s the Man: Dan Lyons had another big game with a RBI single and two walks on Monday. The shortstop has now reached base safely in 11 consecutive games, earning hits in 10 of those games and four in a row. During the streak, Lyons is batting .351 (13-for-37) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, seven RBI, six runs and five walks.

Off to the Races: Bryan Sabatella tied a season-high for a Ducks player by stealing three bases in Monday’s game. The only other Duck with three steals in a game was Delta Cleary, Jr., who did so on June 1 against the York Revolution. As a team, the Ducks set a new season-high by stealing six bases in the win. Their previous high was five, done twice, most recently on May 23 in game one of a doubleheader against Camden. Long Island has now stolen 95 bases in 2015, which ranks second behind Bridgeport, who has 98.

Blanke’s Big Day: Mike Blanke collected two hits and drove in three runs to lead the Flock offensively on Monday. The catcher has now totaled 15 two-hit games this season and 16 multi-hit contests. In addition, Monday was his first three-RBI game of the year and fourth multi-RBI contest overall. Blanke has hit safely in four consecutive games, earning multiple hits in three of the four.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Live streaming audio will 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

#22 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#44 Bryan Sabatella – LF
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#33 Jon Griffin – 1B
#40 Steve McQuail – DH
#11 Blake Davis – 2B

#21 Ian Marshall – RHP

Skeeters

#14 Jeff Dominguez – 3B
#9 Amadeo Zazueta – SS
#24 Delwyn Young – RF
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#16 Travis Scott – DH
#35 Daryle Ward – 1B
#25 Johan Limonta – LF
#4 Renny Osuna – 2B
#17 Denny Almonte – CF

#33 Roy Merritt – LHP

We’ll have updates for you throughout the game in Texas, as they Ducks begin their four-game series with the Skeeters. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (6:09): We are underway from Constellation Field!

UPDATE (6:20): BOT 1: Skeeters strike first on a RBI double to right from Delwyn Young.

UPDATE (6:47): END 3: Good pitcher’s duel thus far in Sugar Land. Ian Marshall with back-to-back scoreless innings after the one-run first!

UPDATE (6:59): TOP 4: Two-out thunder from the Ducks! A RBI double by Cody Puckett and a RBI single by Bryan Sabatella give the Flock a 2-1 lead!

UPDATE (7:09): BOT 4: Marshall strikes out Travis Scott and Daryle Ward to strand a pair of runners at the corners!

UPDATE (7:35): BOT 5: Following a borderline ball call and two walks, Young delivers a RBI single and Chris Wallace follows with a sac fly. 3-2 Skeeters lead.

UPDATE (8:07): BOT 7: Young drives in another run with a solo homer to left. Final line for Marshall: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. 4-2 Sugar Land.

UPDATE (8:29): FINAL: Derrick Loop retires the Ducks in order in the ninth, and the Skeeters take the series opener 4-2.

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Posted on August 5, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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