Game 1: Opening Day – Ducks at Patriots

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GAME TIME/LOCATION: 7:05 p.m. at TD Bank Ballpark (Bridgewater, N.J.)

TODAY’S MATCHUP: The Long Island Ducks open the 2016 regular season against the team that ended their 2015 campaign, the Somerset Patriots. Last year, the Patriots defeated the Ducks in a decisive Game Five of the Liberty Division Championship Series at TD Bank Ballpark to move on to the Atlantic League Championship Series. They would eventually beat Southern Maryland in four games to win their league-best sixth championship. It marks the second time in three years that the Ducks will open the regular season on the same field that they ended their previous season, as they also began 2014 in Somerset after winning the 2013 league championship there.

SPRING TRAINING RESULTS: In four spring training games, the Ducks posted a 3-1 record. The preseason slate begin with a home-and-home series against the Bridgeport Bluefish. Long Island earned a 5-1 victory in Bridgeport, thanks to a Delta Cleary Jr. grand slam, but fell at home by a 6-2 margin. The Ducks then swept back-to-back games against the semi pro Long Island Black Sox at home, picking up 10-1 and 4-0 decisions. In the opener, Cleary Jr. added three hits and three runs while the bullpen struck out nine over five scoreless innings. On Tuesday, Mark Blackmar started and threw four scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, and a three-run rally with two outs in the second proved more than enough.

ON THE MOUND: John Brownell takes the mound for the Ducks for his third consecutive Opening Day start. He also will pitch in the regular season for the first time since being named Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year in 2015, becoming the second Duck ever to win that honor (Mike Loree, 2011). He went 12-6 in 2015 with a 3.38 ERA and a franchise-record 146 strikeouts. He led the Atlantic League in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched (175.2), complete games (4) and shutouts (2). However, his kryptonite was the Somerset Patriots. The right-hander went 0-1 with a 7.31 ERA in three regular season starts and 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in two playoff starts against the Pats.

Somerset will counter with right-hander Mickey Storey. He turned in a fine 2015 season as well, going 12-3 with a 2.53 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 18 starts with the Patriots. He might have given Brownell a run for his money at Pitcher of the Year if not for the fact that he had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers in May. Storey lost his only regular season start against Long Island a year ago, allowing four runs over six innings. He then took a no-decision in Game Two of the Liberty Division Championship Series against the Ducks, yielding four runs on six hits and three walks over seven and one-third innings.

FOLLOW ALONG: Tonight’s contest is the “Ducks Game of the Week” on 103.9-FM LI News Radio, the Ducks’ flagship radio station. Fans can follow the broadcast online as well by CLICKING HERE. In addition to updates in this post, fans can follow a pitch-by-pitch account of today’s game via Pointstreak’s Game Live application by CLICKING HERE.

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DUCKS GAME NOTES

The Faithful Flock: Since the Ducks’ inaugural season of 2000, the team has welcomed 6,650,787 fans through the gates of Bethpage Ballpark, which is an Atlantic League record. Long Island has also hosted 650 sold out crowds all-time, which is a league record as well. In 2015, the Ducks led the Atlantic League in total attendance at 358,317 and average attendance at 5,269.

Historic Season: The Ducks finished the 2015 regular season with 80 wins. That total marked the second-most ever in franchise history. The only higher win total was 82, accomplished during the team’s inaugural season of 2000 (82-58). In addition, Long Island set a franchise record with 42 wins in the first half of the season. That total accounted for the most wins ever by a Ducks team in either half. 2015 also marked the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that the Ducks earned a playoff berth, with 2010 and 2014 as the only exceptions in that span.

Home Cooking: The Ducks finished their home schedule in 2015 with an Atlantic League-best 48-22 record. Their .686 home winning percentage was a total of 43 percentage points better than any other team (Lancaster, .643, 45-25). The 48 home victories were also the third-most in franchise history for a single season. 2000 (49-27) and in 2011 (51-20) marked the only two greater totals.

Start Me Up: In their first 16 regular season openers, the Ducks have posted a record of 11-5. Last year’s 5-2 win at York was the first Opening Day win for the Ducks since a 9-4 victory on April 26, 2012 at Somerset. This year marks the sixth consecutive year that Long Island has opened the season on the road. The Ducks and Patriots are facing each other to open the season for the third time in the past five seasons, all at TD Bank Ballpark. Aside from the 9-4 win in 2012, the Patriots claimed a 3-2 victory in 15 innings on April 25, 2014.

Ducks vs. Patriots: Tonight’s game marks the 305th all-time meeting between the Ducks and Patriots. Somerset holds a slim 153-152 advantage in the series and has a 78-72 record against Long Island at TD Bank Ballpark. It also marks the first of 20 regular season matchups between the two teams. The Ducks took the season series in 2015 by an 11-9 count, but the Patriots earned a three games to two win over the Ducks in the Liberty Division Championship Series.

Brownell’s on the Bump: Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell will make his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Flock. Last year, he threw seven scoreless innings to earn a win at York. In his previous two Opening Day starts for the Ducks, the right-hander has given up just two runs over 13 innings (1.38 ERA) along with six hits and one walk while striking out nine. In 2014, Brownell threw six innings of two-run ball, allowing just four hits while striking out five at Somerset.

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STARTING LINEUPS

Ducks
#22 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#5   Delta Cleary Jr. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#6   Blake Tekotte – DH
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#33 Blake Barber – 2B

#7   John Brownell – RHP

Patriots
#20 Trayvon Robinson – CF
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#24 Bryan LaHair – 1B
#15 Matt Fields – DH
#13 Carlos Guzman – RF
#8   David Vidal – 3B
#3   Eric Farris – 2B
#1   Mycal Jones – SS
#9   Rob Kral – C

#7   Mickey Storey – RHP

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UPDATE (7:15): Opening Night ceremonies have finished up at TD Bank Ballpark, and we are moments away from the first pitch of the 2016 season! Here are both teams lined up:

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UPDATE (7:33): TOP 1: What a start! Two-out RBI single by Dan Lyons followed by a two-run double from Blake Tekotte! 3-0 Ducks

UPDATE (8:00): BOT 2: Patriots plate a pair on a RBI fielder’s choice from Eric Farris and a two-out RBI triple by Mycal Jones. 3-2 Ducks

UPDATE (8:23): BOT 3: Aharon Eggleston ties the game with a solo homer, but Brownell works out of a bases loaded, one-out jam to keep the score knotted at three.

UPDATE (9:15): MID 7: We remain tied at three. Brownell threw five innings tonight, and Dan Blewett pitched a scoreless sixth inning!

UPDATE (9:34): BOT 7: Five runs have scored for Somerset to give them an 8-3 lead.

UPDATE (10:07): FINAL: Patriots take the opening game of the 2016 season 9-3. We’re back at it tomorrow night at 7:05.

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Posted on April 21, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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