LDCS Game 5: Ducks at Patriots

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There are some nights where, after a game ends, you simply have to tip your cap to an opposing team or an opposing player. That was the case for the Ducks on Saturday night. Somerset Patriots starter Will Oliver turned in a postseason performance for the ages, tossing a complete game shutout in a 4-0 win that evened the Liberty Division Championship Series at two games apiece. Now, for the second time in three years, the Ducks and Patriots will play a winner-take-all Game Five to decide a postseason series.

Oliver was in control of the Ducks’ lineup form start to finish on Saturday. He had the advantage of the Ducks never facing him during the regular season, and Long Island never seemed to be able to catch up to his heavy dose of fastballs. The right-hander retired the first eight hitters in a row before allowing a two-out single to Elmer Reyes in the third. He set down Fehlandt Lentini to end the frame, but allowed a leadoff double to Delta Cleary, Jr. in the fourth. Oliver settled back in again though and collected nine outs in a row. After the Patriots team took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Lew Ford drew a leadoff walk in the seventh. However, Randy Ruiz hit into a double play, and Sean Burroughs popped out to left. Dan Lyons was hit by a pitch to start the eighth, but a fielder’s choice and a double play followed to end that potential rally. All the Ducks could manage in the ninth was an infield single by Cleary, Jr., but Ford grounded to short to end the ballgame and seal Oliver’s shutout win.

For the first five and two-thirds innings, Bruce Kern was matching Oliver inning-by-inning. The only batter to reach in the first three innings was Michael Burgess when his pop up on the infield fell between Kern and Burroughs. The Patriots loaded the bases in the fourth on a single, a hit by pitch, and two walks (one intentional) after a double play erased one of the runners. However, Kern got David Vidal to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the threat. After a 1-2-3 fifth, the Long Island native got two quick outs in the sixth, but that was when the Patriots put together a game-changing rally. Thomas Neal hit a soft liner into left field that Cleary, Jr. tried to make a sliding catch on. However, it bounced and skipped past him, allowing Neal to reach second on a double. Kevin Baez intentionally walked Burgess to face Matt Fields. Somerset’s first baseman lined an 0-2 pitch into left field, and Neal tried to score on the play. An accurate throw from Cleary, Jr. would have likely resulted in an out at the plate, but the throw short-hopped Mike Blanke to give the Patriots the lead. Vidal followed by swinging on a 3-0 pitch and connected for a two-run double to increase the advantage to three. One more run in the eighth off of Mariel Checo on a RBI single by Robert Andino rounded out the scoring.

CLICK HERE to view postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Cody Puckett and Bobby Blevins
CLICK HERE to view the Game Four box score

In the decisive Game Five, both teams will turn back to their Game One starters. John Brownell will take the mound for the Ducks, looking to repeat his performance from Game Five in the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series. While he allowed four runs in eight innings that day, he pitched into the ninth inning and earned the win. Brownell’s big struggle in Game One came with two outs, as he allowed a RBI triple to Michael Burgess with two down in the first and then surrendered three two-out runs in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie. He finished the night with by allowed five runs on seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out two. The loss was his first ever in the postseason since joining the Ducks. Brownell made three starts at Somerset this season, and in two of them, he allowed six runs, all in one inning. Surprisingly, he took no-decisions in both since the Ducks rallied back to win each game. In the other, he gave up just two runs in six innings but suffered the loss in a 2-0 defeat.

Roy Merritt will return to the mound for the Patriots after picking up the victory in Game One. In that outing, he surrendered just two runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks over six innings while striking out three. Long Island let Merritt off the hook a bit by leaving seven men on base while he was on the mound and 15 men on base total in the 5-3 loss. The southpaw gave up an unearned run in the second on a throwing error by Greg Hopkins and another in the third on Sean Burroughs’ RBI single. However, he worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the fourth to keep Long Island’s lead just one and allowed just two baserunners over his final three innings. Each of Merritt’s three starts against Long Island came with Sugar Land, but he took the loss in Game Two of the 2013 ALCS against the Ducks at Bethpage Ballpark and will be making his first home start as a Patriot against the Ducks since September 19, 2012.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Historic Season: The Ducks finished the 2015 regular season with 80 wins. That total marks the second-most in franchise history, with the only higher total being 82 during the 2000 season (82-58). In addition, Long Island also set a team record with their 42 wins in the first half of the season. That total accounted for the most wins ever by a Ducks team in either half of the season.

Game Five Success: The Ducks enter today’s matchup with an all-time record of 3-1 in Game Five of a postseason series. Long Island dropped Game Five of the 2009 Liberty Division Championship Series to Southern Maryland at home before winning their next three Game Five matchups. They included the 2012 LDCS against Southern Maryland, the 2012 Atlantic League Championship Series against Lancaster and the 2013 ALCS against Somerset, which was their only ever road Game Five. The Ducks have outscored opponents 21-19 in Game Five.

What Can Brown-ell Do For You? John Brownell will be making his second Game Five start as a member of the Ducks tonight. His first came in Game Five of the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series, also at Somerset. In that start, which was also on three days of rest, the righty threw eight innings of four-run ball, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out three. He earned the win, his second of the series, en route to being named Championship Series MVP.

Cool Under Pressure: The Ducks boast an all-time record of 8-6 in elimination games during the postseason. They have won each of their last four elimination contests, taking Game Five of the 2012 LDCS, Games Four and Five of the 2013 ALCS and Game Five of the 2013 ALCS. Long Island has never lost a postseason series after leading two games to one.

I Can See Cleary Now: Delta Cleary, Jr. collected two hits in Game Four and has now picked up at least one hit in every game during the series. In the four games thus far, he has five hits in 12 at-bats (.417 AVG) with one double, two runs scored and two walks. During the regular season, Cleary, Jr. totaled 21 two-hit games and 35 multi-hit games overall.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, 103.9-FM. Live streaming 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:

Ducks
#22 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#11 Elmer Reyes – 2B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#27 Anthony Vega – LF

#7   John Brownell – RHP

Patriots
#11 Robert Andino – SS
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#24 Thomas Neal – DH
#39 Michael Burgess – RF
#16 Matt Fields – 1B
#20 Greg Hopkins – 3B
#5   Ollie Linton – CF
#21 Adam Donachie – C
#3   Nate Spears – 2B

#15 Roy Merritt – LHP

Check back here for updates throughout the game as the Ducks and Patriots take the field at TD Bank Ballpark to decide this year’s Liberty Division champion! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (5:17): No score after one here in Game Five. John Brownell and Roy Merritt each retired the opposition in order.

UPDATE (5:36): END 2: Strong throw by Dan Lyons gets Adam Donachie at first to strand two men on base! No score after two.

UPDATE (5:54): END 3: Brownell escapes another jam, getting Michael Burgess to ground out to Elmer Reyes! Scoreless through three.

UPDATE (6:17): BOT 4: Patriots strike for a pair of two-out runs. RBI single by Spears, as throw home couldn’t be handled, and a hit by pitch of Eggleston.

UPDATE (6:45): BOT 5: Two more two-out runs increase the Patriots lead to 4-0. RBI singles by Ollie Linton and Adam Donachie bring home the runs.

UPDATE (7:10): END 7: After a scoreless sixth by Darin Downs, Ricardo Gomez strikes out the side in the seventh! 4-0 as we move to the eighth!

UPDATE (7:34): FINAL: Roy Merritt completes the shutout, & the Patriots win the game 4-0 & the series 3-2. Congrats to the Patriots organization.

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Posted on September 27, 2015, in Game Previews, Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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