Category Archives: Game Recaps

Game 28: Ducks vs Patriots

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GAME TIME/LOCATION: 7:05 p.m. at TD Bank Ballpark (Somerset, NJ)

TODAY’S MATCHUP: The Long Island Ducks (16-11) play game one of three against the Liberty Division rival Somerset Patriots (19-9).

THURSDAY’S RESULT: The Ducks defeated the Sugar Land Skeeters by a score of 9-2 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas on Thursday night.

The Ducks offense started early as Lew Ford drove in Dan Lyons with an RBI double off Sugar Land righty Parker Frazier in the first inning. Sean Burroughs would follow with   to bring Ford in as well. Long Island added to their lead in the second inning, with another RBI from Ford, this time on a single that scored Blake Tekotte. Sugar Land would get on the board with single runs in the third and fifth innings, respectively, but the Ducks offense continued to produce multiple run innings and proved too much. After a two-run fourth for the Flock, Tekotte hit a two-run home run to right field in the fifth, scoring Ruben Gotay, putting the game out of reach at 8-1. The Ducks added one more run in the seventh inning for good measure to came out on top and split the four-game set at two games apiece.

John Brownell (2-0) was strong for the Ducks, and was awarded a hard fought win as a result. The Ducks righty pitched six complete innings, allowing just two runs on eight hits and a walk, with six strikeouts. Frazier (4-1) took the loss for the Skeeters, his first of the season, pitching a total of four innings, while allowing six runs (three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. The Ducks bullpen was dominant once again, allowing just two hits in a combined three innings of work.

ON THE MOUND: Tonight’s opening matchup between the Ducks and the Patriots features LHP Darin Downs (2-1, 3.25 ERA) for Long Island, and righty Mickey Storey (0-0, 3.85) for Somerset. Downs has been razor-sharp lately, pitching a total of 18.0 innings in his past three starts, allowing just four earned runs on 12 hits, six walks, and 17 strikeouts. His most recent start came at Bethpage Ballpark against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. He threw seven complete innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and no walks, while striking out eight batters in the game for the first time since 2011.

While Storey has yet to earn a decision in a game this year, he has faced the Ducks previously in 2016. On Opening Day, he went four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, no walks, and two strikeouts in a Patriots 9-3 win. Arguably, the righty’s best start came on May 3 against the Blue Crabs. Storey threw six complete innings, allowing just one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts.

FOLLOW ALONG: Tonight’s games will be broadcast on the Ducks’ flagship radio station, LI News Radio 103.9-FM. Fans can follow the broadcast with live streaming audio online 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.

Ducks
#22 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#15 Ruben Gotay– 2B
#20 Lew Ford – DH
#32 Tyler Colvin – LF
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#21 Mike Blanke – C
#6 Blake Tekotte – CF
#17 Matt Wessinger – SS

#23 Darin Downs LHP

Patriots
#20 Trayvon Robinson – CF
#91 Aaron Eggleston – LF
#3 Eric Farris – 2B
#24 Bryan LaHair – DH
#15 Matt Fields – 1B
#13  Carlos Guzman – RF
#4 Yovan Gonzalez – C
#1 Mycal Jones – 3B
#2 Scott Kelly – SS

#11 Parker Frazier RHP

UPDATE (8:11) TOP 3: Ducks score 6! Highlighted by a three-run bomb from Blanke!

UPDATE (8:59) TOP 6: Puckett picks up two RBIs on a flare into center field. Lentini and Ford score. Ducks lead 9-1!

UPDATE (9:22) BOT 7: Darin Downs is on fire! 10 strikeouts from the lefty!

UPDATE (9:37) BOT 8: Patriots get a run, but Downs has gone eight full innings! He’s struck out 11 tonight!

UPDATE (10:06) FINAL: Ducks win in convincing fashion, with the final score 9-3. The Flock goes to victory lane tonight!

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.

LDCS Game 4: Ducks at Patriots

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In Game One of the Liberty Division Championship Series, the Patriots made the Ducks pay with two outs in an inning en route to a 5-3 series-opening win. In Game Three, the Ducks flipped the script on their division rivals. Long Island broke out for nine runs, the first six coming with two outs in an inning, and stunned an Atlantic League playoff record crowd of 7,835 at TD Bank Ballpark in a 9-4 win. The Ducks now lead the Patriots two games to one and get their first shot at a fourth Liberty Division title in five seasons on Saturday night.

Over the first four innings, the feel was very similar to that of Game One. The Ducks put runners at first and second with two outs in both the first and third innings and had two on with no one out in the second, but each time, Patriots starter Matt Zielinski wiggled out of trouble. Meanwhile, the Patriots took the lead in the third inning when Bobby Blevins surrendered a first pitch, two-out solo homer to right off the bat of Aharon Eggleston. In the fifth, Delta Cleary, Jr. singled with one out and Lew Ford followed with a walk. However, Randy Ruiz’s deep fly ball to center was caught on the warning track, and it appeared like the Ducks would again come up empty. This time though, the Flock came through.

Game Two hero Sean Burroughs grounded a single through the right side to tie the game at one. Dan Lyons followed with a double over the head of Eggleston in left to score Ford and give the Ducks the lead. Then, Cody Puckett delivered a back-breaking two-run single up the middle to earn his second straight multi-RBI game. All of a sudden, the Ducks led 4-1. Ford delivered a two-out RBI single in the sixth to score Elmer Reyes, who had reached on an error, and the lead seemed comfortable at 5-1. However, Michael Burgess burned the Ducks again with a two-run homer to right-center in the bottom of the sixth, and it was suddenly a two-run ballgame.

The two-out magic returned again in the seventh, as Puckett, who finished with four hits, singled to center and came around to score when Eggleston could not catch Mike Blanke’s double to left-center. Down 6-3, Somerset tried to manufacture a comeback in the bottom of the frame. Ollie Linton reached on a bunt single, and Adam Donachie walked, ending the night for Blevins. Patrick Crider came on to face lefty Nate Spears, but Patriots manager Brett Jodie countered with righty David Vidal, who singled to plate Linton. The lead was just two for the Flock, and the tying runs were now on base. Kevin Baez summoned Nick Struck, who caught a break when Robert Andino’s bunt attempt was popped up to Puckett. Eggleston followed with a walk to load the bases, setting up the biggest moment in the ballgame.

If Thomas Neal had delivered a single, the Patriots would have tied the ballgame at six. However, Struck got him to hit a ground ball to the right of Lyons at short. The 2015 Team MVP went to his knees to stop the ball, threw to second for the force, and Reyes relayed the throw to first to complete a magnificent 6-4-3 double play. Long Island’s dugout exploded, and the crowd in Bridgewater was silenced. Long Island took the momentum into the eighth, as Randy Ruiz hit a two-run double and Sean Burroughs lifted a sacrifice fly to left. The Ducks scored three times, taking advantage of an error by Matt Fields on a bunt attempt, and put the game out of reach at 9-4. Ryan Kussmaul did an admirable job in relief, retiring the final six Patriots batters to secure the win.

CLICK HERE to listen to audio highlights from Game Three of the LDCS
CLICK HERE to view postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Cody Puckett and Bobby Blevins
CLICK HERE to view the Game Three box score

In Game Four of the series, the Ducks will turn to Long Island native Bruce Kern. The right-hander began the season as a Spring Training invitee and now will take the ball trying to pitch the Flock into the Atlantic League Championship Series. He finished the season with a 9-6 record and a 3.51 ERA in 40 games (13 starts). He began the year primarily as a reliever before becoming a full-time starter at the end of July. Like Blevins, Kern has success away from Bethpage Ballpark this season. In 23 games (five starts), he posted a 3.49 ERA, allowing just 20 runs (19 earned) on 41 hits and 16 walks in 49 innings while striking out 45. The 27-year-old was also very strong against Somerset, going 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in six games (three starts) and holding the Pats to a .191 batting average against him. Highlights for Kern included eight innings of one-run ball on August 20 in a 5-1 win over Somerset and a pair of eight strikeout performances at Bethpage Ballpark against them on July 5 (9-4 win) and July 28 (3-2 loss).

Opposing Kern will be Will Oliver, who the Ducks will be seeing for the first time this year. The right-hander joined the Patriots on August 9 and went on to post a 6-2 record with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts. He allowed more than three runs in only one start (August 16 at Camden) and was very strong at home, winning all four of his starts and pitching to a 1.13 ERA. Oliver began the season as a member of the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League and compiled a 9-2 record with a 1.59 ERA and five complete games. The 28-year-old finished the season with a loss at York on the campaign’s final day and pitched to a 3.91 ERA over his last four starts.

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 Four Notes: Long Island brings an all-time record of 3-3 in Game Four matchups into tonight’s contest. In those six games, the Ducks have gone 2-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. The Ducks dropped Game Four of the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series 2-1 in 16 innings at Somerset but won Game Four of the 2012 ALCS 9-3 over Lancaster at Bethpage Ballpark. Long Island has won two of their three Game Fours in the Liberty Division Championship Series.

Sean is On: Sean Burroughs picked up two more hits on Friday for his third straight multi-hit game of the postseason. During the series, the former big leaguer has eight hits in 12 at-bats with one double, four RBI and two runs scored. In the regular season, Burroughs collected eight two-hit games with the Ducks and finished with 15 multi-hit games overall.

Cody Crushes It: Cody Puckett tied a franchise record on Friday with four hits in the win. Only two other Ducks have ever finished a playoff game with four hits. George Lombard accomplished the feat in Game Four of the 2009 Liberty Division Championship Series against Southern Maryland, and Ryan Strieby matched him in Game One of the 2013 LDCS, also against the Blue Crabs. Friday marked the first time any Duck earned four hits in a road playoff game.

You’ve Been Thunder-Struck: Nick Struck pitched another scoreless inning in the seventh on Friday, getting out of a first-and-second, no-out jam and leaving the tying runs on base. Dating back to the regular season, the right-hander has allowed just one run in his last 17 appearances. In that span, he has compiled a 0.44 ERA, allowing just one run in 20 and one-third innings. The 25-year-old has given up 10 hits and 12 walks while striking out 18 batters.

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
#5   Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#11 Elmer Reyes – 2B

#30 Bruce Kern – RHP

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

#14 Will Oliver – RHP

Check back here for updates throughout the game as the Ducks and Patriots play Game Four of the LDCS from TD Bank Ballpark! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (7:15): We are underway in the first, as both sides are retired in order. Onto the second!

UPDATE (7:44): END 3: Still no score at TD Bank Ballpark. Each side has one hit. Bruce Kern has struck out five batters thus far!

UPDATE (8:07): BOT 4: Kern wiggles out of a jam in the frame, getting David Vidal on a groundout to leave the bases loaded! Still scoreless after four.

UPDATE (8:40): BOT 6: Patriots take the lead with three two-out runs. A RBI single by Matt Fields and a two-run double by David Vidal break the tie.

UPDATE (9:01): BOT 7: A RBI single to right by Robert Andino extends the Patriots lead to 4-0.

UPDATE (9:23): FINAL: Will Oliver tosses a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout. Patriots win 4-0. Decisive Game Five on Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

LDCS Game 3: Ducks at Patriots

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Thursday’s battle between the Ducks and the Patriots was one of those games that was as dramatic as they come for fans at Bethpage Ballpark. It was a classic battle between the two division rivals. It was also one of those games that was a nightmare for reporters. After seven innings, most writers would have had their stories written and ready to be sent in with the click of a button. By the middle of the eighth, they would all have had to press the dreaded “CTRL+A+DELETE” combo to rewrite their stories. By the end of the eighth, a whole new story was to be written. In the end, the Ducks came away with a 5-4 win in a game that wasn’t an absolute must win but certainly felt like it.

For the first seven innings, the story was undoubtedly Ducks starter Darin Downs. The southpaw had his best stuff of the year, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He allowed a walk to Robert Andino to lead off the game but did not allow another baserunner until Thomas Neal drew a one-out walk in the fourth. Downs would set down the next seven in a row and got ahead of Aharon Eggleston 0-2 with two outs in the sixth. However, Somerset’s worked the count full before singling to right and ending the no-hit bid. The Bethpage Ballpark faithful rose to their feet and applauded the efforts of Long Island’s lefty. The former big leaguer retired Neal to end the sixth and threw a scoreless seventh, yielding only a broken bat single to Michael Burgess. Downs finished with seven strikeouts in his seven scoreless innings.

Meanwhile, the Ducks found a way to scratch out three runs against Patriots starter Mickey Storey, who finished the season tied with John Brownell for the league lead in wins. After leaving 15 men on base the previous night, the Ducks found a way to plate some runs with productive outs. Following singles by Randy Ruiz and Sean Burroughs in the second, Dan Lyons flied out to right but moved Ruiz to third with the deep drive. Cody Puckett followed with a sac fly to deep center to put the Ducks on top. Two innings later, Ruiz and Burroughs again singled to open the inning and were both able to move into scoring position after Tucker could not come up with Burroughs’ liner cleanly. Lyons followed with a sac fly in foul territory down the right field line, as Ruiz slid in just past the tag of catcher David Vidal. Puckett followed with a RBI single to left-center, and the Ducks had built a fairly comfortable lead. Then, the eighth inning happened.

Ricardo Gomez was called upon to pitch for the Ducks, and he retired Nate Spears for the first out. However, he then fell behind and walked Jonny Tucker, the ninth hitter in Somerset’s lineup. Andino came up next and fell behind 0-2 quickly. However, Gomez missed with two straight pitches, the second of which saw Tucker steal second. Andino hit the next pitch into right for a RBI single, scoring pinch runner Ollie Linton. Long Island’s lead had shrunk to two, and Eggleston reached first as the tying run on a catcher’s interference with a 3-1 count. Kevin Baez brought in J.C. Romero at that point, and he walked Neal on five pitches to load up the bases. Burgess followed with a ground ball to the right side which appeared like it could have been an inning ending double play. However, Burroughs cut in front of second baseman Elmer Reyes to field the ball and dropped it for a run-scoring error. Matt Fields followed with a two-run double that put the Patriots ahead 4-3, but on the play, Burgess was thrown out at home plate trying to score, and that would end up proving to be a huge play in the game.

After Romero struck out Vidal to end the inning, Long Island needed a rally to at least tie the game and get their fans back into the game. Fehlandt Lentini fell behind 0-2 against Storey but took four straight balls to work an inning opening walk. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Delta Cleary, Jr. sacrificed him over to third base. Daniel Sattler was called upon by manager Brett Jodie, and he struck out Lew Ford for a big second out. However, Sattler walked Ruiz on five pitches, the last of which was down in the dirt and scooted past Vidal. Lentini raced home and slid in with the tying run on the wild pitch. Jodie made another change and brought in Connor Little, a righty, to face Sean Burroughs, a lefty. Burroughs fell behind 1-2 but was able to work the count full, and Anthony Vega stole second base after coming in to pinch run for Ruiz. On the 3-2 offering, Burroughs grounded a single through the right side off of the glove of Spears at second, and Vega raced home with the go-ahead run. For Burroughs, who pumped his fist in pure joy at first, it was a great way to atone for his fielding error in the top of the frame. Romero came back out for the ninth and retired the bottom of the order 1-2-3 to seal with the win and even the series at one.

CLICK HERE to listen to audio highlights from Game Two of the LDCS
CLICK HERE to view postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, Darin Downs and Sean Burroughs
CLICK HERE to view the Game Two box score

Game Three of the series means a shift to TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey. This is a ballpark that has been one of the friendliest to the Ducks in 2015. Long Island posted a 7-4 record in enemy territory this season, splitting a four-game series at the end of May, taking two of three in mid-July and earning three wins in four games in mid-August. The Ducks earned three consecutive victories during that final series after dropping the opener, taking games by scores of 8-7, 1-0 and 5-1. This was also the place where the Ducks earned a Game Five win in the 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series to earn their second consecutive title, though they also dropped games the previous two nights in extra innings.

The Ducks will send Bobby Blevins to the mound in Game Three. He has been one of the best postseason pitchers for the Flock since joining the team in 2012 (see the notes below) and was outstanding on the road this year. He made 10 of his 14 starts this season on the road and posted a 4-2 record with a 2.94 ERA away from Bethpage Ballpark. In 67 and one-third innings on the road, he allowed just five walks while striking out 50 batters. Two of those road starts came at Somerset, and he pitched well in both. On July 11, he tossed six innings of two-run ball, allowing six while striking out six and not walking a batter in 4-3 Ducks win. Then on August 19, he threw eight shutout innings, yielding just three hits and no walks with four strikeouts, taking a no-decision in 1-0 victory of Long Island that took 13 innings to decide. Overall, Blevins finished 2015 at 4-4 with a 3.82 ERA, but he pitched to a 2.11 ERA over his final six starts of the season, all of which came on the road.

Somerset will counter with Matt Zielinski, who coincidentally has been one of the best pitchers for Somerset at home. The southpaw made 17 starts in his home ballpark this season and compiled a 6-2 record with a 2.41 ERA and two complete games. In 115 and two-thirds innings, he allowed just 22 walks while striking out 80 batters. The Somerset veteran made three starts against Long Island, all at home, and was 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA. He took the loss on May 30, giving up three runs on nine hits while striking out four over seven innings in a 3-0 Ducks win. On July 10, he threw six scoreless innings, yielding six hits and a walk while striking out seven in a 2-0 Patriots win. Then, he too took a no-decision on August 19 while opposing Blevins, allowing six hits and a walk over seven scoreless frames while striking out five. Overall, Zielinski ended the season with an 8-4 record and a 2.86 ERA, but he did pitch to an 8.22 ERA over his final three starts of the season. In two of those three, he surrendered seven runs, both of which came against York and one of which came at home (September 8).

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 Two Success: With Thursday’s victory, the Ducks earned their fifth consecutive win in Game Two of a postseason series. The Ducks had taken Game Two of both playoff series in both 2012 and 2013 en route to back-to-back Atlantic League championships. All-time, the Ducks improved their record in Game Two matchups to 7-7, including a 5-4 mark at home.

Sugar, We’re Goin Downs: Darin Downs turned in another quality start with seven scoreless innings on Thursday. Dating back to the regular season, the southpaw has tossed six consecutive quality starts. In that span, he has compiled a 2.61 ERA, allowing just 11 earned runs in 38 innings of work. He’s yielded 32 hits and 11 walks in that span while striking out 35 batters.

Sean is On: Sean Burroughs picked up three hits for the second straight playoff game on Thursday. In the postseason, the former big leaguer has six hits in eight at-bats with one double, two RBI and one run scored. Burroughs collected seven three-hit contests during the season and finished with 15 multi-hit games overall.

Game Three Notes: The Ducks enter tonight’s Game Three matchup with an all-time record of 5-5 in Game Three of a postseason series. Long Island is 3-3 in a Game Three on the road and 2-2 at home. During their last playoff appearance in 2013, the Ducks split their two Game Three matchups, winning in the Division Series at Southern Maryland but falling in the Championship Series at Somerset.

Bobby’s a Beast: Game Three starter Bobby Blevins will make his fourth postseason start as a member of the Ducks. He has yet to earn a decision thus far but has compiled a 2.70 ERA. In 20 innings of work, the right-hander has given up just six runs on 15 hits and no walks while striking out 11 batters.

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
#5   Delta Cleary, Jr. – CF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#2   Cody Puckett – 3B
#9   Mike Blanke – C
#11 Elmer Reyes – 2B

#18 Bobby Blevins – 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

#31 Matt Zielinski – LHP

Check back here for updates all evening long as the Ducks and Patriots look to gain a leg-up in the LDCS from TD Bank Ballpark! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (7:30): No score after one at TD Bank Ballpark. Fehlandt Lentini earned a hit, and Randy Ruiz was walked in the Ducks’ half of the frame.

UPDATE (8:12): BOT 3: Aharon Eggleston hits a two-out solo home run to right field to put Somerset ahead 1-0. It’s his first longball of the playoffs.

UPDATE (8:42): TOP 5: The Ducks score four times with two outs in the inning to take a 4-1 lead! A RBI single by Sean Burroughs, a RBI double by Dan Lyons and a two-run single by Cody Puckett did the damage.

UPDATE (8:58): TOP 6: Lew Ford grounds a two-out RBI single up the middle! 5-1 Ducks in front!

UPDATE (9:07): BOT 6: Michael Burgess with a two-run homer to right-center trims Long Island’s lead to 5-3.

UPDATE (9:18): TOP 7: Puckett singles with two outs, and Mike Blanke drives a RBI double to left-center! 6-3 Long Island

UPDATE (9:41): BOT 7: David Vidal picks up a RBI single, but Long Island turns a splendid 6-4-3 double play to get out of the jam! 6-4 Flock after seven

UPDATE (10:01): TOP 8: Ruiz with a two-run double, Burroughs with a sac fly, and it’s now a 9-4 Ducks lead in the eighth!

UPDATE (10:27): FINAL: Ryan Kussmaul retires the final six Patriots hitters, and the Ducks win 9-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series!

LDCS Game 2: Ducks vs. Patriots

Slide

The Ducks and Patriots have a knack for playing tight ballgames. Wednesday night’s contest was no different, as the two teams played Game One of the Liberty Division Championship Series at Bethpage Ballpark. Unfortunately for the Flock, the Pats came out on top in a 5-3 final. Long Island lacked timely hitting, as they combined to leave 15 runners on base in the difficult two-run defeat. Somerset now leads the best-of-five series one game to none.

Ducks starter John Brownell struggled against the Patriots during the regular season, going 0-1 with a 7.31 ERA in three starts. That trend continued in Wednesday’s postseason opener, as the Pats posted their first run in the opening frame. Michael Burgess, who had a dominant night at the plate, hit a RBI triple into the right field corner to give Somerset a quick 1-0 lead. The Ducks did post one run in the second and third inning, giving Brownell a lead. A run-scoring throwing error by Patriots second baseman Greg Hopkins plated Dan Lyons in the second to tie the ballgame. One inning later, Sean Burroughs’ RBI single to left off Roy Merritt gave Long Island their first lead. However, the road team was quick to respond. Matt Fields’ solo homer in the fourth tied the ballgame, 2-2. The low liner narrowly made its way over the wall in left field. In the fifth, Somerset went in front for good with a three-spot. Thomas Neal’s RBI single to left plated the first run of the frame. One batter later, Burgess hit a towering two-run homer to right, giving the Pats a 5-2 advantage. He would finish a double shy of the cycle in the contest. By that point, the Ducks’ scoring had dried up. The team scratched out one run in the seventh on a run-scoring wild pitch thrown by Patriots reliever Buddy Boshers. Trailing 5-3, the Flock left the bases loaded twice over the final three innings, stranding eight total runners after their final run crossed. Closer Jon Hunton got Elmer Reyes to fly out to right field with the bases loaded in the ninth to end the game.

Brownell suffered the loss and was responsible for all of Somerset’s runs. He allowed five through six innings while walking and striking out two. Nick Struck, Patrick Crider, Mariel Checo, Ricardo Gomez, and J.C. Romero combined to hold the Patriots scoreless over the final three innings. They allowed just two hits. Fehlandt Lentini and Burroughs each had three hits in the series opener. The Ducks outhit Somerset 10-9 in the loss, but leaving 15 runners on base proved to be costly. Long Island went 1-15 with runners in scoring position, 0-4 with the bases loaded, and 1-10 with six walks with two outs. Comparatively, Somerset went 2-7 with runners in scoring position and 4-12 with a double, triple, homer, four RBI, and three walks with two outs. They did not load the bases.

CLICK HERE to listen to highlights from the LDCS opener
CLICK HERE to watch postgame interviews with Kevin Baez, John Brownell, and Fehlandt Lentini
CLICK HERE to view Wednesday’s box score

Game Two of the LDCS will be played in Central Islip before as many games as necessary will be played in Bridgewater at TD Bank Ballpark through Sunday. Darin Downs looks to help Long Island bounce back on Thursday night. The southpaw ended the regular season 4-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts. He surrendered 30 runs (29 earned) on 61 hits through 67 and two-thirds innings, walking 30 and striking out 55. Three of Downs’ starts came against the Patriots. In those three outings, the former big leaguer went 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA, giving up 12 runs (11 earned) on 17 hits in 16 frames. He also walked 12 and struck out 11, with an opponent average of .288. Both of his losses against Somerset came at Bethpage Ballpark in July.

The Patriots send Mickey Storey to the hill in hopes of taking a two-game lead in the series. Overall, the former big leaguer went 12-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts, finishing tied with John Brownell for the league lead in wins. Through 106 and two-thirds innings, the hurler allowed 32 runs (30 earned) on 84 hits while walking 19 and striking out 85. Storey finished the regular season pitching incredibly well. In his final nine starts, the righty went 8-1 and did not pitch less than five innings in any outing. He won every start from August 1-September 18, with his last loss coming on July 26. However, the Ducks did hand Storey his first loss of the season back on July 11 in Somerset. In a 4-3 win, Long Island got to the starter for four runs on six hits in six innings. In his last three starts, Storey has surrendered just one run on nine hits in 18 innings, striking out 16 batters in that time.

Here are tonight’s game notes:

Historic Season: The Ducks finished the 2015 regular season with 80 wins. That total marks the second-most ever in franchise history. The only higher win total was 82, accomplished during the team’s first season in 2000 when the Ducks went 82-58. In addition, Long Island set a franchise 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.

Home Cooking: The Ducks finished their home schedule this season with an Atlantic League-best 48-22 record. Their .686 home winning percentage was 43 percentage points better than any other team (Lancaster, .643, 45-25). The 48 home victories were 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).

Game Two Notes: The Ducks have won each of their past four Game Two matchups. Long Island took Game Two of both playoff series in 2013, including the Atlantic League Championship Series against Somerset at Bethpage Ballpark, and both Game Two matchups during the 2012 playoffs. All-time, the Ducks have a 6-7 record in Game Two of a postseason series, including a 4-4 record at home.

Sugar, We’re Going Downs: Game Two starter Darin Downs enters the playoffs having thrown five consecutive quality starts to finish the regular season. In those five outings, the southpaw compiled a 2-2 record with a 3.19 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs in 31 innings of work. He gave up 30 hits and nine walks in that span while striking out 28 batters. Dating back to August 6, Downs has made seven quality starts in his last eight outings, compiling a 3.24 ERA in that stretch.

Three’s Company: Fehlandt Lentini and Sean Burroughs both had three hits to lead the Ducks in Game One. During the regular season, Burroughs collected seven three-hit contests while Lentini had six. Burroughs ended the year with 15 multi-hit games, while Lentini compiled 17 in his second season with the Flock.

Oh, What a Relief They Are: Five Ducks relievers combined to throw three scoreless innings to close out the game. Nick Struck, Patrick Crider, Mariel Checo, Ricardo Gomez and J.C. Romero combined to give up just two hits and one walk in that span while striking out five batters. Struck ended the regular season with 14 scoreless appearances in his last 15 outings, while Romero tossed seven straight scoreless outings and did not give up a run in 11 of his last 12 games.

On the Air: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Ducks’ official YouTube channel. Live streaming video and 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. – LF
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#50 Randy Ruiz – DH
#25 Sean Burroughs – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#2 Cody Puckett – 3B
#9 Mike Blanke – C
#11 Elmer Reyes – 2B

#23 Darin Downs – LHP

Patriots

#13 Robert Andino – SS
#91 Aharon Eggleston – LF
#24 Thomas Neal – DH
#39 Michael Burgess – RF
#16 Matt Fields – 1B
#8 David Vidal – C
#20 Greg Hopkins – 3B
#3 Nate Spears – 2B
#6 Jonny Tucker – CF

#7 Mickey Storey – RHP

Check back here for updates all evening long as the Ducks and Patriots continue the 2015 LDCS from Bethpage Ballpark! You can also follow the Ducks on Twitter (@LIDucks) for updates all year long!

UPDATE (6:40): TOP 1: Darin Downs fires his first pitch and Game Two of the LDCS is underway from the Duck Pond!

UPDATE (7:07): BOT 2: The Ducks take a 1-0 lead on Cody Puckett’s sacrifice fly to center!

UPDATE (7:41): BOT 4: Dan Lyons with LI’s second sacrifice fly of the ballgame and Cody Puckett with a RBI single to left! 3-0 Flock!

UPDATE (8:40): TOP 8: Darin Downs is done for the night. Final line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Not bad. Ducks still lead 3-0!

UPDATE (8:44): TOP 8: Robert Andino’s RBI single to right makes it a 3-1 ballgame.

UPDATE (8:56): TOP 8: Patriots take a 4-3 lead after a Sean Burroughs error and a two-run double from Matt Fields with the bases loaded.

UPDATE (9:09): BOT 8: Ducks tie the game! A wild pitch thrown by Daniel Sattler allows Lentini to score from third! 4-4!

UPDATE (9:16): BOT 8: Ducks retake the lead, 5-4!!! Sean Burroughs with a RBI single that bounces into right field!

UPDATE (9:23): FINAL: Ducks win!!! 5-4 is the final, as J.C. Romero completes the win in the ninth! Series now tied 1-1 going to Somerset.

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