Game 140: Ducks at Barnstormers

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Another season has come and gone for the Long Island Ducks, and what a journey it has been. Sunday will be the regular season finale for the Flock, as they wrap up the four-game series at Lancaster and seven-game road trip to Pennsylvania. This is a season that has featured way more highs than lows, including 80 victories, the second-most in franchise history, compared to 58 losses. Long Island is hoping for six more wins after today’s game en route to their fourth Atlantic League championship, though one thing is for sure. The Ducks are happy that Saturday night’s game happened this Saturday and not in a week when playoffs are underway.

Things were looking very good for Long Island on Saturday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium. The Ducks had jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on another long home run from Randy Ruiz that cleared the fence to the right of the batter’s eye in center. After a Kevin Rivers home run in the second cut the deficit to 3-1, Bobby Blevins settled in nicely for the Ducks. The right-hander allowed just two hits in five inning of one-run ball, retiring the final 11 batters that he faced. The Ducks added two more runs in the sixth after Pete Andrelczyk relieved Chad Beck mid-inning. Elmer Reyes brought in a run with a groundout, and Fehlandt Lentini earned a run batted in with a two-out double. Nick Struck, J.C. Romero and Ricardo Gomez threw one scoreless inning apiece, and the Ducks took their four-run advantage into the ninth. It appeared as though the fact that Long Island had left 10 men on base would be an afterthought, as it was for Lancaster the previous two nights. However, that’s when things quickly turned south.

Amalio Diaz came on to close things out for the Ducks, but the Barnstormers rallied back as they have done time and time again in the second half this season. Kent Matthes doubled, and Mike McDade singled to open up the inning. Diaz then got ahead of Luke Hughes 1-2 before the first baseman fouled off five consecutive two-strike pitches. Then, a fastball from the righty came up and hit Hughes on the shoulder to load the bases. Up came Zach Collier, who fell behind 0-2 in the count. Diaz then missed on four straight pitches for a walk to bring in a run. Now a 5-2 game, Long Island’s closer settled down to strike out Anderson Feliz and get Rivers to ground out to first. However, with nine-hitter Charlie Cutler at the plate, Diaz fell behind 2-1 in the count. His next pitch was lined to left field for a two-run single that tied the game at five. Mariel Checo eventually ended the inning for Diaz, but the damage had been done.

With extra innings forced, Long Island’s offense did their part to take the lead back. Cody Puckett singled and was sacrificed to second to begin the inning against Scott Gracey. Then Reyes came to the plate and launched two-run home run to the bumper boat pool in right-center. The Ducks were back on top 7-5, and Checo would come out to try and finish off the game in the bottom of the frame. However, the Barnstormers came back yet again. The righty got ahead 0-2 on Matthes to open in the inning but eventually walked him. Following a strikeout of Yusuke Kajimoto, Hughes doubled down the left field line to bring Lancaster within one. Collier came up to bat and walked after falling behind 0-1 in the count. Feliz was next, and he went behind 0-2 as well before working the count full and then singling to load the bases for Rivers. After Kevin Baez called on Frank DeJiulio, Jr., Rivers grounded the second pitch he saw through the right side for a two-run single that erupted Clipper Magazine Stadium. Lancaster had overcome two late deficits to defeat the Ducks 8-7.

CLICK HERE to listen to audio highlights from Saturday’s game
CLICK HERE to view Saturday’s box score

For the regular season finale, the Ducks will send Bruce Kern to the mound. The right-hander enters with a 9-5 record and a 3.39 ERA in 39 games (12 starts). His last start came on Tuesday against York, the only game which the Ducks have won on this road trip. The outing was a battle for Kern, as he only lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up four hits and three walks. However, he ultimately surrendered just two runs and struck out seven in the 5-2 victory. Four Long Island relievers saved the day with four and one-third innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball. Kern has made five appearances (one start) against the Barnstormers this season and is 2-1 with a 2.46 ERA, allowing just three runs in 11 innings.

Lancaster will send Japanese submariner Shunsuke Watanabe to the mound in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. The righty has a record of 6-5 with a 3.10 ERA this year in 20 games (17 starts). In his last outing, he yielded five runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings while striking out two in a 5-1 loss at Somerset a week ago. Prior to his recent stretch of two poor outings in his last three starts, Watanabe had made 16 straight appearances allowing three earned runs or less. For this efforts, he was named an Atlantic League All-Star this summer. Watanabe has pitched in five games (two starts) against the Ducks this season and is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, giving up six runs in 16 innings of work.

Here are today’s game notes:

Postseason Bound: With the Somerset Patriots defeating the Bridgeport Bluefish on Tuesday, the Ducks have clinched a berth in the 2015 Atlantic League playoffs. They will enter the playoffs as a Wild Card winner, as they hold the best overall record besides Somerset. It marks the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that the Ducks have earned a playoff berth (2010, 2014). Long Island’s last two postseason trips have resulted in Atlantic League championships (2012, 2013).

Ducks vs. Barnstormers: Today marks the 214th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Barnstormers. The Ducks lead the series 110-103, but the ’Stormers have a 57-53 advantage in Lancaster. Today is also the last of 20 scheduled meetings between the teams in 2015. Long Island leads the series 10 games to nine, but Lancaster has an 8-3 edge at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

Home Cooking: The Ducks finished their home schedule this season with an Atlantic League-best 48-22 record. Their .686 home winning percentage is 57 percentage points better than any other team (Somerset, .629, 44-26). The 48 home victories are the third-most in franchise history for a single season. The only two greater totals were in 2000 (49-27) and in 2011 (51-20).

‘R’ You Kidding Me? Randy Ruiz and Elmer Reyes both finished with three hits, including a homer, and three RBI on Saturday. For Ruiz, it was his 11th home run of the season and second of the series. In addition, it was the former big leaguer’s sixth three-hit game and fourth three-RBI contest in 2015. For Reyes, it was his sixth homer as a Duck and second of the road trip. The infielder now has four three-hit games and two three-RBI contests this year.

Welcome to the Hit Parade: For the second straight game, every Ducks starter had at least one hit. In addition, they have now combined for 32 hits in the past two games, an average of 16 per game. As a team, the Ducks now lead the Atlantic League this year with 1,365 hits, an average of 9.9 per game.

Bobby’s a Beast: Bobby Blevins turned in his sixth consecutive strong start on Saturday. In those six outings, the right-hander has compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.11 ERA. He has allowed just 10 earned runs in 42 and two-thirds innings during that span and has given up just 33 hits and four walks while striking out 27 batters. The fourth-year Duck has lowered his ERA from 5.40 to 3.83 in the six-start stretch as well and made all six starts on the road. This year, Blevins is 4-2 with a 2.94 ERA on the road. Comparatively, he’s 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA at home.

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
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#2   Cody Puckett – 2B
#9   Mike Blanke – DH
#27 Anthony Vega – LF
#40 Steve McQuail – 3B
#17 Alex Marquez – C
#6  Carlos Hughes – SS

#30 Bruce Kern – RHP

Barnstormers
#7   Lance Zawadzki – DH
#1    Yusuke Kajimoto – CF
#31 Brian Cavazos-Galvez – 1B
#21 Kevin Rivers – LF
#11 Luke Hughes – 3B
#19 Anderson Feliz – SS
#5   Derrick Pyles – RF
#27 Juan Apodaca – C
#3   Tyler Bortnick – 2B

#9   Shunsuke Watanabe – RHP

Keep it here for updates all afternoon long as the Ducks and Barnstormers put a bow on the 2015 regular season. You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (1:12): We are underway at Clipper Magazine Stadium for the final game of the regular season!

UPDATE (1:20): BOT 1: Barnstormers strike first on a leadoff home run by Lance Zawadzki. It’s his 20th longball of the season.

UPDATE (1:50): END 3: Bruce Kern bounces back with back-to-back scoreless innings. Still a 1-0 game as we head to the fourth.

UPDATE (2:07): BOT 4: A stolen base by Brian Cavazos-Galvez coupled with a throwing error by Alex Marquez gives the Barnstormers a 2-0 lead.

UPDATE (2:30): BOT 5: A RBI double by Zawadzki and a two-run homer by Yusuke Kajimoto off of Joe Bircher increase the Lancaster lead to 5-0.

UPDATE (2:43): BOT 5: Luke Hughes adds a three-run homer to right center, ballooning the lead to 8-0.

UPDATE (3:05): BOT 6: Two more runs come home on a two-run double by Kevin Rivers. 10-0 Lancaster

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Posted on September 20, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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