Game 131: Ducks vs. Skeeters
The Ducks had their series finale with the Camden Riversharks washed out on Thursday night at Campbell’s Field. It was scheduled to be the final game between the two teams in the 2015 regular season, but the contest will only be made up if necessary. Long Island was leading the season series 12-5.
Given that Somerset and Bridgeport were both rained out on Thursday as well, the Liberty Division standings look exactly the same as they did after Wednesday’s game. The Ducks are in second place, two games back of the first-place Patriots. Bridgeport, with eight straight losses, has fallen quickly to six games out in third place. Camden is in last place, nine games back. In terms of schedules, the Ducks play their final three home games of the regular season this weekend. Three games against the Sugar Land Skeeters are in line for the Flock, who will then end the year with a seven-game road trip in York (three games) and Lancaster (four games). Both of those teams have played much better in the second half of play, as the Barnstormers have a five-game lead over the Revs for first place in the Freedom Division. Somerset plays their final three home games this weekend as well. After hosting Lancaster for three days, the Pats hit the road for three important games in Bridgeport before wrapping up the season with four games in York. The ‘Fish play three games on the road in Camden and finish with seven games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, including the three games with Somerset. Every game from here on out is crucial for the top three teams in the Liberty Division, but certainly for Bridgeport. The final week of play will make or break their postseason hopes. Long Island is currently in good position to make the playoffs. With 10 games to play (pending the makeup with Camden if necessary), Bridgeport must at least tie Somerset for first place to knock the Ducks out. If the Bluefish and Ducks end tied for first place, the Ducks would also be eliminated because Bridgeport had a better record against Long Island in the second half. A Long Island share of first place or first place outright puts the Ducks in the postseason.
The Flock also made a big move earlier today, welcoming back 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year Lew Ford. Ford had joined Tijuana of the Mexican League in mid-July. While in Mexico, the former big leaguer played 30 games and hit .372 with three homers, 23 RBI, and 26 runs scored. Ford also walked 17 times and hit six doubles. Tijuana lost to Monclova on Sunday night in the semifinals of the Mexican League playoffs. Before heading south of the border, Ford was hitting .364 with the Ducks in 2015. He also had eight homers, 58 RBI, and 44 runs scored in 68 contests.
The Ducks will have a new starter on the hill for their series opener with the Skeeters. Lefty Joe Bircher will take the ball, having most recently played with Sioux Falls of the American Association. In two seasons with the team, the 25-year-old went 8-12 in 34 appearances (33 starts). Earlier this year, Bircher went 4-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts while playing in the independent league, giving up 40 runs (29 earned) on 80 hits in 85 and two-thirds innings. He walked 26 and struck out 48. The Omaha, Nebraska native was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. Bircher spent two seasons in the organization, reaching as high as Single-A Quad Cities of the Midwest League in 2013. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. The southpaw stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds.
Sugar Land, currently third in the Freedom Division, will start Miguel Martinez. Also a lefty, Martinez has made just one start with the Skeeters since being signed on September 5, the same day of the outing. In Texas, Martinez took the loss in a 4-1 Somerset win. He allowed two runs on six hits in five innings of work, walking three and striking out four. Martinez was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 20th round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft out of Maria Auxiliadora HS (Carolina, PR) and the Mariners again in the 37th round of the 2001 MLB Amateur Draft out of Miami-Dade College (Miami, FL).
Here are tonight’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Skeeters: Tonight marks the 77th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Skeeters. Sugar Land currently leads the series 40-36, but Long Island holds a 22-14 advantage at Bethpage Ballpark. It also marks the 17th of 19 scheduled games between the two teams this year. The Ducks lead the series nine to seven and have won five of the six games played on Long Island in 2015.
Home Cooking: The Ducks currently have an Atlantic League-leading 46-21 record at home in 2015. Their .687 winning percentage is 60 percentage points better than any other team (Somerset, .627, 42-25). As a team, the Ducks have compiled a .303 batting average and a 3.29 ERA at Bethpage Ballpark this year. Comparatively, they’re batting .260 with a 3.29 ERA on the road this season.
Starter Success: One night after John Brownell tossed a complete game for the Ducks, Bobby Blevins came within one out of doing so on Wednesday. In their past two games, Ducks starters combined to allow just five runs in 16 and two-thirds innings, good for a 2.70 ERA. Long Island’s starters have now made three consecutive quality starts and six in their last eight games.
I Can See Cleary Now: Delta Cleary, Jr. picked up a single on Wednesday and has now reached base safely in 24 consecutive games. That’s four games shy of the longest by a Duck this year (28, Lew Ford, 6/7-7/5). During the streak, the outfielder is batting .400 with five doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and 16 runs.
Randy’s Dandy: Randy Ruiz earned his second straight multi-hit game with three more hits on Wednesday. He now has five hits in his last eight at-bats. The former big leaguer has compiled five three-hit games and 25 multi-hit contests in 55 games with the Flock in 2015. Ruiz has also hit safely in nine straight games and is batting .432 (16-for-37) during the streak.
All They Do Is Hit: Sean Burroughs and Fehlandt Lentini each picked up a single on Wednesday to extend their hitting streaks to nine games apiece. During the streaks, Burroughs is batting .457 (16-for-35) while Lentini is hitting .357 (15-for-42). They’ve combined for 14 RBI and 14 runs during the streak as well.
McQuail’s Moonshot: Steve McQuail launched a solo home run in the fifth inning on Wednesday. The longball was his sixth of the season with the Ducks and first since July 20 against York, ending a 32-game homerless drought. The Wantagh native hit five homers in his first six games with Long Island.
On the Air: Today’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 and David Weiss 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
#5 Delta Cleary, Jr. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#39 Nelfi Zapata – C
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#11 Elmer Reyes – 2B
#43 Joe Bircher – LHP
#11 Willy Taveras – DH
#14 Jeff Dominguez – CF
#24 Delwyn Young – RF
#20 Chris Wallace – C
#16 Travis Scott – 1B
#6 Patrick Palmeiro – 3B
#5 Kevin Russo – LF
#4 Renny Osuna – 2B
#9 Amadeo Zazueta – SS
#33 Miguel Martinez – LHP
Check back here for updates all game long as the Ducks and Skeeters kick off their three-game set at Bethpage Ballpark! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!
UPDATE (6:40): TOP 1: Joe Bircher throws his first pitch as a Long Island Duck and we are underway from Bethpage Ballpark!
UPDATE (6:56): BOT 1: Welcome back Lew Ford! His RBI single to center makes it 1-0 Ducks!
UPDATE (6:59): BOT 1: Sean Burroughs with a two-run single! 3-0 Flock!
UPDATE (7:06): TOP 2: Patrick Palmeiro’s solo homer to left makes it 3-1 Ducks.
UPDATE (7:35): BOT 3: Nelfi Zapata with the RBI double to deep center, making the score 4-1 Ducks!
UPDATE (7:40): BOT 3: Elmer Reyes with a RBI triple! Long Island takes a 5-1 lead!
UPDATE (7:41): BOT 3: Fehlandt Lentini keeps the train moving with a RBI single to center! 6-1 Flock!
UPDATE (7:52): TOP 4: Jeff Dominguez’s three-run double cuts the Ducks lead to two. 6-4 LI.
UPDATE (7:54): TOP 4: Delwyn Young’s RBI double makes it 6-5 Ducks. Four-run fourth for the Skeeters.
UPDATE (7:57): TOP 4: Chris Wallace’s RBI single to center ties the game 6-6.
UPDATE (8:04): TOP 4: Skeeters take a 7-6 lead after a run-scoring wild pitch and finish the frame with six runs.
UPDATE (8:29): BOT 5: Ducks take a 9-7 lead! Elmer Reyes with a long three-run homer to left!
UPDATE (8:56): TOP 7: Travis Scott’s solo homer makes it a 9-8 ballgame in favor of the Ducks.
UPDATE (9:53): FINAL: Ducks hang on for a 9-8 victory in the series opener! Amalio Diaz with the save!
Posted on September 11, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged 2015, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Joe Bircher, Long Island Ducks, Miguel Martinez, Playoffs, Sugar Land Skeeters. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.