Game 110: Ducks at Patriots
If this series between the Ducks and Patriots is a preview of what a potential playoff series might look like, fans might be in for a repeat of the nail-biting baseball that the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series brought. In another thriller between Long Island and Somerset on Wednesday night, the Ducks found a way to break through for the game’s lone run in the 13th inning and defeat the Patriots to take a lead in the four-game series (2-1) and the season series (10-9). More importantly though, their win and Bridgeport’s loss in Sugar Land created a three-way tie for first place in the second half Liberty Division standings between the Ducks, Patriots and Bluefish. In case your curious, if this were to be the case at the end of the season, the Bluefish would win the half by virtue of the Patriots having already won the first half and Bridgeport having the better second half head-to-head record against the Ducks (5-2). However, six games remain between Long Island and Bridgeport.
After the offenses dominated the final three games of the series against Southern Maryland and the first two games here against Somerset, it was pitching that took center stage on Wednesday. Bobby Blevins and Matt Zielinski engaged in an entertaining pitcher’s duel, with neither allowing their opponent to dent home plate. Blevins looked like the pitcher Ducks fans have come to know since he joined the team in 2012. The righty threw eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing only three batters to reach on two singles (one on the infield) and a double. He did not walk anyone, struck out four and needed just 90 pitches to get through eight innings, 63 of which were for strikes. In his words after the game, he said “I treated it like a playoff game. I finally felt like myself again.” His opposing starter was almost as strong on the hill. Zielinski lasted seven innings and allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five. The southpaw threw 101 pitches, 69 of them for strikes, and was able to work out of three instances where the Ducks had multiple runners on base against him.
With neither side able to give their starter any run support, it ended up being a matter of which bullpen would blink first. Somerset’s first four relievers all looked very strong. Buddy Boshers, Andrew Carignan, Anthony Collazo and Daniel Sattler combined to allow just three hits in five innings of relief while striking out five batters. On the other side, Donnie Veal, J.C. Romero, Ryan Kussmaul and Billy Buckner threw a combined four innings of two-hit baseball, yielding two walks while striking out three. Romero got the biggest three outs of the game, getting out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the 10th. After allowing a single, a double and an intentional walk, he induced two fielder’s choice groundouts to get the runner at the plate and then got James Skelton to pop out to first for the final out.
Both teams remained in a scoreless deadlock until the 13th, when the Patriots called upon Zach Clark, Monday night’s starting pitcher, to come out of the bullpen. The right-hander retired Fehlandt Lentini for the first out, but then Delta Cleary, Jr., Dan Lyons and Sean Burroughs picked up consecutive singles to load the bases. Cody Puckett followed and lifted the first pitch to center field. Ricky Claudio made the catch, but his throw home was no match for the speed of Cleary, Jr., who scored to finally break the 0-0 tie. After a groundout ended the inning, Amalio Diaz came on and did what he’s done so many times this year. He retired the Pats in order on a groundout by Skelton, a strikeout by Robert Andino and a groundout by Aharon Eggleston to notch his 10th save and lift the Ducks into a tie atop the division standings. It marked the first time this half that the Ducks were at least tied for first in the division.
With three straight one-run games now complete, the Ducks will seek another road series win and a season series win tonight in their last meeting of the regular season with the Patriots. Bruce Kern will take the mound for the Ducks, coming in with a record of 6-3 and a 3.39 ERA in 33 games (seven starts). The right-hander has struggled in his last two outings, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings this past Saturday against the Blue Crabs and yielding five runs on nine hits in five innings against the Riversharks on August 10. His last win came on August 3 when he threw six innings of two-run ball and allowed five hits in a 5-2 win over Bridgeport on Camp Day at Bethpage Ballpark. Tonight poses a new challenge though, as this will be his first road start of the year. Kern has a 2-1 record with a 2.70 ERA in 18 games away from Bethpage Ballpark. Against the Patriots, the Yaphank resident is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in five games (two starts) and has allowed six runs on 12 hits and just walks over 17 innings while striking out 25 batters. His last outing against them came on July 28 where he pitched well despite suffering a loss, striking out eight while allowing just two runs on five hits over six innings.
The Patriots will send out Lucas Irvine to the mound to try and salvage a split of the series with the Ducks. The right-hander enters with a 6-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 20 starts this year. Tonight, he’ll be trying to bounce back from his worst outing of the season. On Saturday in Camden, he surrendered eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits and four walks over five and two-thirds innings while striking out two. The Riversharks won the game 9-4 en route to a series win over their in-state rivals. Irvine threw seven scoreless innings in his start prior to that outing, so the Patriots are hoping it was just a blip on the radar. The righty has faced the Ducks three times already this year and is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA, having allowed six runs on 22 hits and five walks in 18 and two-thirds innings while striking out 22. However, tonight will be his first start against the Flock at TD Bank Ballpark. In his last outing against Long Island (July 29), he gave up nine hits and two runs over five and two-thirds innings while walking two and striking out six, taking a no-decision in a 4-2 Ducks victory.
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight marks the 305th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset leads the series 153-151 and also has a 78-71 advantage at TD Bank Ballpark. Tonight’s also the last of 20 scheduled games between the two in 2015. The Ducks currently lead the series 10 to 9. 16 games have been decided by three runs or less, and 10 have been decided by one run.
Break Out the Bats: The Ducks totaled 10 or more hits for the sixth straight game and seventh time in the last eight games Wednesday. In the eight games, the Ducks have totaled 50 runs and 99 hits, an average of 6.25 runs and 12.4 hits per game. Long Island leads the Atlantic League in runs (508) and hits (1,058).
Dan’s the Man: Dan Lyons collected another hit on Wednesday and has now reached base safely in 25 of his last 26 games dating back to July 23. In that span, he is batting .354 (35-for-99). Lyons has also hit safely in 12 straight games and scored at least one in run 11 of his last 12 contests. In the 12 games, he is batting .400 (20-for-50) with two homers, 12 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Cody’s Crushing It: Cody Puckett collected a single on Wednesday and extended his on-base streak to 16 consecutive games. During the streak, the infielder is batting .324 (22-for-68) with four doubles, one homer, 13 RBI and seven runs. Dating back to July 23, Puckett has earned hits in 23 of his last 26 games and ranks second in the league with 118 hits.
Sean’s Sizzling: Sean Burroughs picked up his fifth straight multi-hit game on Wednesday with two singles. The former big leaguer has 12 hits in 22 at bats (.545 AVG) with seven RBI and three runs in his last five games. Since joining the Ducks, Burroughs is batting .405 (17-for-42) with one homer, 10 RBI and five runs. He has reached base safely in all 10 games played with the Ducks.
Three’s Company: Mike Blanke totaled three more hits on Wednesday. He has now hit safely in seven consecutive games and has reached base safely in 13 straight contests. During those 13 games, the catcher is batting .275 (14-for-51) with two home runs, nine RBI and seven runs scored. Delta Cleary, Jr. earned his second straight three-hit game and team leading ninth of the year. The outfielder has multiple hits in three of his last four games and has 11 hits in 19 at-bats in those four games with one triple, one RBI, six runs and three steals.
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:
#27 Anthony Vega – LF
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#9 Mike Blanke – DH
#39 Nelfi Zapata – C
#26 Sam DiMatteo – RF
#6 Carlos Hughes – 2B
#30 Bruce Kern – RHP
#3 Nate Spears – 2B
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#8 David Vidal – 3B
#39 Michael Burgess – RF
#13 Robert Andino – SS
#9 Mat Gamel – 1B
#36 Ricky Claudio – RF
#21 Adam Donachie – DH
#4 James Skelton – C
#16 Lucas Irvine – RHP
We’ll have updates for you all game long as the Ducks and Patriots close out their four-game set and season series in New Jersey. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (7:33): BOT 2: Patriots plate a run on Ricky Claudio’s RBI groundout to second. 1-0 Somerset.
UPDATE (7:45): TOP 3: Ducks answer back with a three-spot! RBI doubles by Carlos Hughes and Anthony Vega and a RBI single by Dan Lyons make it 3-1 Ducks!
UPDATE (8:23): TOP 5: Ducks plate two more on a RBI single by Delta Cleary, Jr. coupled with an error! 5-1 Long Island in the fifth!
UPDATE (8:55): END 7: Still a 5-1 game after seven innings. Bruce Kern has tossed three straight 1-2-3 innings and has retired 11 batters in a row!
UPDATE (9:16): END 8: With the bases loaded and two out, Kern retires David Vidal on a flyout to right! Ducks take a 5-1 lead to the ninth!
UPDATE (9:34): FINAL: Ducks win 5-1! They take the 4-game set & season series over the Patriots & move into sole possession of 1st place in the half!
Posted on August 20, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged 2015, Atlantic League, Bobby Blevins, Bruce Kern, Cody Puckett, Dan Lyons, Long Island Ducks, Lucas Irvine, Matt Zielinski, Mike Blanke, Sean Burroughs, Somerset Patriots, TD Bank Ballpark. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.