19 seasons of Long Island Ducks baseball have come and gone. Players from all around the world and of all varieties of baseball experience have worn the Ducks uniform since the first pitch on April 28, 2000. In that time, they have played in front of nearly 8 million fans in Central Islip, and millions more around the rest of the country. Those players and coaches have also earned three Atlantic League Championships, seven Division Championships, 13 half-season Division Championships and over 1,300 victories. As the Ducks 20th Anniversary Season, presented by Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, approaches, it is time to determine which members of the Flock have stood above the rest.
The common phrase goes “pitching wins championships,” and that was certainly the case during the next era of our voting. During this four-year stretch, the Ducks claimed back-to-back Atlantic League Championships thanks in large part to some tremendous performances on the mound. One of the nominees for this week’s starting pitcher spot earned Championship Series MVP honors in 2013. Another recorded a pair of quality starts with the Ducks facing elimination in 2012. Our third candidate began as a reliever before converting to a starter and was instrumental in both championship victories. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three nominees:
After coming to Long Island via a late-season trade in 2012 from the Grand Prairie AirHogs, John Brownell fashioned a Ducks career that spanned parts of seven seasons, including six full years. During that time, he compiled a record of 65-51 with a 3.72 ERA, 755 strikeouts, and 1,005.1 innings pitched over 156 games (154 starts). His wins, strikeouts, innings pitched and starts totals are all Ducks franchise records, and he is also the Atlantic League’s all-time strikeouts king. The right-hander ranks second in league history for innings pitched and third for wins. Not to mention, he’s also the Ducks single-season record holder for starts (29, 2014), complete games (7, 2013), innings pitched (202.0, 2014) and strikeouts (147, 2016). If those impressive numbers aren’t enough, Brownell was a key contributor to Long Island’s back-to-back Atlantic League Championships. He posted a 2.84 ERA in a pair of 2012 postseason starts, which included a win in Game Four of the ALCS with the Ducks facing elimination. The following season, Brownell won all three playoff starts and compiled a 2.88 ERA. Two of those starts came in the Championship Series, where he earned MVP honors after pitching into the ninth inning of the decisive Game Five at Somerset. He would go on to lead Long Island to three more Liberty Division titles (2016-18) and earn an ALPB All-Star Game selection in 2017. Brownell has unquestionably cemented his legacy as one of the franchise’s greatest starting pitchers ever.
Another vital piece to Long Island’s Championship puzzles was New York native Bobby Blevins. The right-hander also joined the Ducks in a late-season trade from the Rockland Boulders during the 2012 campaign. Manager Kevin Baez slotted Blevins in to start the decisive Game Five during both postseason series that year and boy did he deliver. He fired six innings of three-run ball in the Liberty Division Championship Series, as the Ducks defeated Southern Maryland 5-4, and then tossed six innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts against Lancaster to lead the Ducks to another 5-4 win and their first championship in eight seasons. Blevins was masterful in his lone postseason start one year later, pitching eight innings of one-run ball at Somerset in Game Four of the Atlantic League Championship Series. While impressive in the postseason, his regular season numbers were nothing to scoff at. Between 2012 and 2015, Blevins compiled a 15-10 record with a 3.23 ERA, four complete games, 212 strikeouts, and 317.2 innings over 50 games (47 starts). He spent one final season with the Ducks in 2016 and started Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series that year before going on to spend time with both the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Our third and final candidate for this spot on the 20th Anniversary Team enjoyed success as both a starting pitcher and a reliever during his three seasons as a Duck. Jared Lansford served as a late-inning bullpen arm during Long Island’s back-to-back championships runs, making 47 appearances in both 2012 and 2013. He combined to post a 5-3 record with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves, and 88 strikeouts over 104.2 innings of work. The righty’s 2013 success earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection. Lansford was also a perfect 3-0 in 11 postseason appearances, yielding just one run and one walk over 12.1 innings while striking out 13. The California native converted to the starting rotation for the 2014 season and continued his success on the mound. He made 25 starts that year and posted an 8-5 record with a 3.22 ERA, two complete games, and 123 strikeouts over 159.1 innings pitched. Thanks to his performance, Lansford eventually signed in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He has spent several seasons pitching overseas since.
Three two-time Atlantic League champions are up for selection, but only one will have a spot on the 20th Anniversary Team. Who that will be lies partly in your hands. Cast your vote early and often over the next week for Brownell, Blevins or Lansford by clicking the button below. The winner, along with the remainder of the 20th Anniversary Team, will be unveiled at the beginning of the 2019 season!
Be sure to check back again next week, as we’ll reveal our group of three nominees for the starting pitcher spot representing the 2016-18 era of Ducks history, the final starter spot on the team.
Happy New Year, Ducks fans! We at “Quack of the Bat” hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and was able to enjoy this festive period as 2017 officially came to a close. With that, the 2018 calendar year has now begun, and with it, the drive towards Opening Day of Long Island’s All-Star Summer. Surely, teams will begin to build their rosters over the coming weeks and news about games, promotions and other events will be announced. However, there is already plenty of news surrounding the team as the 19th season of Ducks baseball gets underway.
MELVILLE JOINS THE ORIOLES
It appears as though 2017 Ducks starting pitcher Tim Melville will be adding another Major League organization to his resume. The right-hander signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles on December 22, making them the sixth MLB club that he has been a part of (Royals, Tigers, Reds, Twins and Padres).
Melville was one of the biggest success stories among the Ducks roster last year. He joined the team after having pitched in the Majors with the Reds in 2016. The 28-year-old started nine games over the first seven weeks of the season, compiling a 3.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts. 14 of those punch outs came in a win at New Britain on June 7, which tied a single-game franchise record. It was no surprise that Melville’s contract was purchased by the Twins three days later.
He would excel with Triple-A Rochester, posting a 4-3 record, a 2.70 ERA and 64 strikeouts over 11 games (10 starts). That performance was worthy enough of a promotion to the big leagues on August 21, just over two months after his contract was purchased from the Ducks. Although he would struggle in three combined appearances (one start) between the Twins and Padres in the big leagues, he proved his value to MLB organizations during the 2017 campaign. Melville is certainly hoping to break spring training with the big club in Baltimore, but for now, the team has assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk of the International League.
WADDLE-OFF MAGIC FOR FORMER FLOCK MEMBERS
Down in the Caribbean Winter Leagues, the playoffs have begun for a number of teams. One of those, Aguilas de Mexicali of the Mexican Pacific League, has earned a pair of walk-off victories to begin its postseason. In Game One of their series against Venados de Mazatlan, 2015 Duck Ryan Kussmaul pitched a scoreless eighth inning before 2014 Duck C.J. Retherford won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Retherford’s two-out RBI double put Aguilas ahead in the series. Former Patriot and Skeeter Roy Merritt started on the mound for Venados and was lifted from the game following eight innings of one-run ball.
The pair of former Ducks teamed up again in a 3-2 walk-off win the following day. Kussmaul tossed a scoreless eighth inning once again to keep the score tied at two, and Retherford stepped up to the plate to begin the bottom of the 11th. 2015 and 2016 Duck Nick Struck had tossed three scoreless innings of relief for Venados but gave way to Marcos Rivas to begin the inning. Retherford launched a walk-off homer to send the crowd of over 16,000 at Estadio B-Air into a frenzy. Aguilas finished the regular season in first place with a 26-7 record, a full six games clear of Mayos de Navojoa, who finished second.
STARTERS REUNITED IN VENEZUELA
The two pitchers were teammates for three seasons together on Long Island, and they have now been joined together once again down in the Caribbean. John Brownell and Jared Lansford are both playing postseason baseball with Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Brownell has typically been spending his winters in Puerto Rico with Criollos de Caguas, but with some uncertainty surrounding their season following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the righty took advantage of an opportunity to pitch in Venezuela. Lansford has recently been spending the year overseas in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Caribes finished fourth in the league with a 32-31 record. Brownell threw four innings of two-run ball in his lone start on December 21, while Lansford struggled, yielding 13 runs in 12 innings of work over five games (four starts). Caribes has jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the playoff series with Navegantes del Magallanes. Blue Crabs veteran pitcher Daryl Thompson, who ranked fourth in the Venezuelan League with a 2.79 ERA and second in strikeouts with 50, started Game One and earned the win with six scoreless innings. Brownell is slated to start Game Four on Saturday.
PITCHING PAIR IN DOMINICAN PLAYOFFS
Two more Ducks alumni are also part of a postseason bound team in the Dominican Republic this winter. 2017 starting pitchers Rafael Perez and Alfredo Simon have been teammates with Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Professional Baseball League. The club finished the regular season with a 29-21 record, good for first place by two games over a pair of other teams.
Perez pitched out of the bullpen and did quite well, allowing just two runs over 17 and two-thirds innings across 22 appearances, good for a 1.02 ERA. Simon totaled eight games, starting seven of them, and was 2-0 with a 4.03 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 29 innings. Thus far, Gigantes is out to a 1-3 start to the four-team round robin playoffs that are going on now through January 18. Neither Perez nor Simon has yet to appear in the playoffs. Tigres del Licey leads the league at 4-0 to this point and features several recent Atlantic League alumni (Alexis Candelario, Somerset; Bryan Evans, Lancaster; Patrick McCoy, Southern Maryland; Kevin Munson, Lancaster; Kyler Newby, Somerset; Angelys Nina, Bridgeport).
Be sure to keep an eye on the blog over the next few months for a variety of content. As the roster takes shape, we will have features on the players that will make up this year’s team. In addition, we will have further updates on winter league action and much more regarding the All-Star Summer festivities.
For three seasons on Long Island, Jared Lansford was one of the most reliable arms on the Ducks pitching staff. In his first two, he was a dominant force in the back end of the bullpen. Then in 2014, he transitioned to the starting rotation and found success in that role as well. After winning two championships with the Flock, the California native received the opportunity to pitch overseas this past season, joining the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan.
Several former Ducks have gone on to play with Lamigo. One of the most notable pitchers to do so was Mike Loree. The right-hander won the Atlantic League’s Pitching Triple Crown in 2011, leading the circuit with 14 wins (compared to five losses), a 1.98 ERA and 131 strikeouts. He began 2012 with Long Island as well before earning a contract with Lamigo and heading to the Far East. Since that point, he has won a championship with the Monkeys and has played for other teams in both Taiwan and Korea. This year, he was a member of the EDA Rhinos in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
Both pitchers were able to use their previous Atlantic League experience to put together strong seasons once again in 2015. The two were among the best in the league, ranking in the Top 5 of almost every pitching category. Here is a breakdown of their total stats and where they ranked, according to the league’s website:
What’s even more impressive? The league was absolutely dominated by offense. Three of the four teams posted batting averages over .300. In addition, no team had a combined ERA of less than 5.00. Lansford’s Monkeys compiled a league-high 5.25 ERA, and Loree’s Rhinos came in at 5.10. Each team had over 600 runs scored in 120 games, with both the Monkeys and Rhinos averaging close to 6.5 runs per game. Despite all of that, Lansford and Loree still were able to put together outstanding numbers.
Despite coming up just short to Loree in about each statistical category, it was Lansford who earned the ultimate prize. His Monkeys were able to earn their second consecutive league championship by defeating Brother Elephants four games to three in the CPBL Taiwan Series. The righty allowed just one earned run in five innings while striking out six in Game Three, and he threw five innings of relief in Game Six, yielding just one unearned run and earning the win. In that game, he entered trailing by a run in the game and down 3-2 in the series. Although he was not on the mound for the clinching victory, he had a front row seat to watch former Major Leaguer Pat Misch make history. The southpaw, who spent six seasons in the big leagues including three with the Mets (2009-11), tossed a no-hitter in Game Seven to seal the deal. It was the first-ever no-hitter in the championship finals.
Here is some video of Lansford pitching in the Championship Series:
On Friday, we had the chance to catch up with Jared to discuss his experiences overseas in 2015:
How special was the experience of winning a championship in Taiwan?
“It was a great year! I had a really good time over there. In my personal opinion, we had the best team going into the playoffs. All year, we played really well as a team. Once we won the first half, it seemed like we kind of let up a bit. It’s like it can be in the Atlantic League where you win the first half and there’s less sense of urgency at the start of the second half. We didn’t play as well as we should have, but when it came to playoff time, we were playing the way we needed to. In Taiwan, you have pretty much the same guys the entire year, so you develop relationships with those guys. Being able to start the year there and finish it with the same guys, it was a unique experience for me and I really enjoyed it.”
Were you and your teammates stunned by Misch’s performance to win the title in Game Seven?
“It was unbelievable what he did in the postseason. He threw four games out of seven in the championship series. He started the first game, started the fourth game, pitched out of relief in the sixth game, and then on zero days rest, threw a complete game no-hitter in the seventh game. It was something you couldn’t even imagine. We were hoping he would just go three innings, let alone throw a no-hitter. He’s the greatest guy, and he deserved it. He became an instant celebrity over there.”
What were some of the challenges you faced playing baseball in Taiwan?
“It’s just a longer season. We started in February and then ended in late October. Even though you only play five days out of the week, the season just seems like it takes a long time, especially when you only have four teams in the league. You’re constantly playing the same team over and over again. I probably ended up facing two teams 12 times each. You have to evolve a little bit and change your game up a bit so that you keep guys guessing.”
How difficult was the opposition that you faced while on the mound?
“It was tough because these guys can hit. The hitters over there are unbelievable. They put almost every ball you throw in play and are very tough to strike out. With some of these guys, you wonder what they’re doing there. Our 3-4-5 hitters, maybe even our sixth hitter too, you wonder why these guys aren’t playing in the States. These guys are hitting .370, .380 with 30 home runs and 125 RBI in 120 games. It’s unbelievable. There are some guys that deserve to be playing in the States, and if not there, in Korea or Japan. It’s pretty incredible how good the hitting is.”
What do you think was the key in being able to turn in strong numbers?
“Once you face the same hitters and the same teams over and over again, one of those times they’re bound to get you. That’s when your numbers start to get a little inflated when it comes to the ERA portion of it. Other than that, it’s just about staying steady. We had a good hitting team, so if you are able to give your team a chance to face their bullpen, at least match or go a little longer than their starter, you have a good chance of winning the game.”
Was it difficult to adjust to the different culture in Taiwan?
“On the culture side of things, I loved the people over there. The players, the fans and everyone I met over there were the nicest people. It was nice and comforting knowing that you didn’t have to worry about that part of it. Everything over there was taken care of, and everyone was willing to help if we needed help.”
Do you feel like the being a starter with the Ducks in 2014 helped prepare you for this past season?
“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity in Taiwan if the Ducks didn’t give me the chance to start last year. I’m really grateful to them for doing that. It seemed to work out for both of us. I had a good year with the Ducks last year, and then I got the opportunity to go over in Taiwan this year. Just having the amount of innings built up that I did with the Ducks the year before, I felt strong going into the season this year and ended up throwing more innings than I did last year.”
Did having a former teammate of yours there in Mike Loree help ease the transition?
“I knew Mike a little bit with the Ducks. I don’t think he was there for that long when I was there, but we were friends. When I got the opportunity to go over to Taiwan, I called him to ask him a bunch of questions and felt out what it was like over there. I got some information about how it was for us and for my wife, since I know he brought his wife out there before. I wanted to make sure everything was taken care of out there, and if there was anything I needed to have a heads up for. Once we got there, we hung out a lot. We would go to dinner with each other, and every time one of us was in town, we’d try to meet up. There were some other guys I played with before like Andy Sisco, [former Blue Crabs pitcher] Gaby Hernandez, Shaun Garceau, Bobby Blevins, but having him the whole year was nice. We were together at the All-Star Game too, so we hung out during that entire break and that was fun.”
You showcased talents off the field as well by singing to the fans. What was that experience like?
“They love their karaoke over there. I’m no stranger to karaoke myself. There’s a song that we take the field to, and it’s a song that only we play. You hear it every day, and so one day I finally asked one of our translators to help me get to know a little piece of it. It took me a little while to learn because Chinese is really tough. We had an Army party a little later on in the season, and players have the option to do karaoke in front of the fans. I was told that no foreign player had ever done it, so that motivated me a little more to do it. Pat and I actually ‘karaoke’d’ in front of the fans, and then they asked for an encore. I was pretty much the only one that had anything to offer them because they didn’t know any of the American songs that we knew. One of the translators suggested that I sing that song, and the fans loved it. They loved that I tried. I got a lot of comments after from the fans that they really liked it.”
Do you plan on playing with the Monkeys again in 2016?
“I don’t know. I think I’m going to feel it out a little bit and see what my options are. I think the option to go back might be there if I decide that’s what I want to do. I’ve been in contact with them already, but there is nothing ironed out. I just told them that I was going to take a little time to figure things out with my agent and my family and see what I want to do. I guess we’ll see here in the next month or so.”
Finally, after spending three consecutive seasons on Long Island, how much did you miss playing with the Ducks this past season?
“There are a lot of people that I really missed. [Team Trainer] Dottie [Pitchford], the coaching staff, [Coordinator/Fitness Specialist] Tony [Amin], the players, I miss all of those guys. I got the chance to talk to a couple of them during the year. I miss that whole fan base over there too. They were so much fun to play in front of, and I had some fun years there. Who knows what the future will hold? Hopefully I see all those guys again sometime.”
Although today’s weather on Long Island saw temperatures well into the 60’s, the inevitable chill of winter is just around the corner. In fact, the air will certainly be getting quite cooler this weekend, so be sure to dust off the knit hats, gloves and scarves. With winter about a month away, it’s time to take a look at the Winter Hot Stove for the Ducks and see where some members of the Flock are currently playing winter baseball.
Like every season, many professional ballplayers do not go into hibernation between the end of the season in September/October and Spring Training. Rather than relax at home and take time off, they choose to head south and continue to play baseball in various other leagues around the world. A vast majority make their temporary homes in the Caribbean, where winter baseball leagues exist in countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. We’ll start our look around the Caribbean Leagues this week by heading to Venezuela.
As we alluded to earlier this offseason on the blog, 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year Lew Ford is continuing to play baseball this winter. He is a member of Navegantes del Magallanes and is teammates there with two-time Atlantic League champion pitcher Bobby Blevins. Their team has faced some struggles thus far, posting a 12-13 record, which sits them eight games in back of the league lead. However both players have carried over their success from their season with the Ducks. Ford is currently batting .311 with one homer, eight RBI, 13 runs and five doubles and continued his stellar defensive season with this outstanding catch in center field. Blevins has appeared in five games (four starts) and is 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 21 and two-thirds innings. Among their other teammates are several Atlantic Leaguers from this past season, including Rommie Lewis and Anthony Lerew (York), Jake Opitz (Southern Maryland) and Juan Apodaca (Lancaster).
Eric Niesen was another member of the Ducks pitching staff who turned in a terrific performance in 2014. The southpaw posted a 3.05 ERA in 59 games out of the bullpen and is now pitching for Caribes de Anzoategui. Through 10 games, he has yet to allow an earned run over five and one-third innings and has earned a win as well. Thanks to Niesen’s effort, Caribes is off to a flying start, posting a dominant 21-6 record that is good for tops in the league. He is teammates with former Southern Maryland Blue Crabs pitcher Daryl Thompson.
Right-hander Jared Lansford, who transitioned from the bullpen to the starting rotation for the Ducks in 2014, has just appeared on the roster for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela. He has yet to appear in a game, but after a great season with the Flock, he will have the opportunity to impress abroad this winter. He is teammates with Blake Gailen (Lancaster) and Aharon Eggleston (Somerset), two players who Lansford defeated in the 2012 and 2013 Atlantic League Championship Series, respectively. Leones is 13-16 thus far, nine games behind Caribes.
Although he did not arrive until late in the year, C.J. Retherford had some impressive at-bats with the Ducks this past September. He finished the season with a .314 batting average in a Ducks uniform and found a spot with Tiburones de La Guaira this winter. Since heading south, Retherford struggled a bit, batting .200 with one homer, seven RBI and four runs. He hasn’t appeared in a game since November 1, and his team has struggled, ranking last in the league with a 7-19 record.
Another midseason arrival for the Ducks in 2014 that is playing in Venezuela is pitcher Sergio Perez. After making 20 appearances with the Flock, he is now pitching for Aguilas de Zulia. Perez has been given a starting role there and is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 11 strikeouts through 23 and one-third innings. He is teammates with former Barnstormer Reegie Corona, and Aguilas has gone 19-7 to this point, sitting just a game and a half behind Caribes.
Here are some other Atlantic Leaguers from 2014 that are playing in Venezuela this winter:
-Jon Hunton (Tigres de Aragua – Somerset)
-Ramon Castro (Tigres de Aragua – Bridgeport)
-Steve Hammond (Bravos de Margarita – Sugar Land)
-Tim Gustafson (Cardenales de Lara – Bridgeport)
Over the next several weeks, we will make our way around the winter baseball circuit in the Caribbean and even head to Australia to check out some Atlantic League alumni playing there. You can follow along with all of the winter leagues by CLICKING HERE. If you make a trip to any of these countries to watch some former Ducks play, or if you hear about any playing winter ball that we have not mentioned here, please let us know by commenting on the story or filling out a contact form. We’ll be updating the blog weekly with winter baseball news and eventually, with player signings for the 2015 Long Island Ducks.
The Long Island Ducks return to action tonight at Bethpage Ballpark for the fifth-to-last game of the 2014 regular season. Also, it is Bark in the Park night at the Duck Pond! With under a week left in the season, all of the games at the Duck Pond are becoming even more exciting. Last night’s ballgame against the Lancaster Barnstormers featured another nail-biter between the two teams that have been among the most productive in the league all season long. Despite Lancaster now holding a 12-6 advantage in the season series, there have been some memorable games between these teams. That includes the Ducks’ three-run ninth inning rally on May 9 in Lancaster to win a 10-8 thriller, and of course the Flock’s 19-3 drubbing of the ‘Stormers on the road on May 28.
Last night’s game followed suit in the trend of exciting games between these two teams, though this time it went Lancaster’s way. The Barnstormers were in control of the game early, taking a 3-0 lead through the top of the sixth on RBI doubles from Juan Apodaca in the second, Lance Zawadzki in the fourth and Gabe Jacobo in the sixth. Meanwhile, ‘Stormers starter Dan Osterbrock was dominant in the early goings, having only allowed two hits while striking out six through his first five innings.However, the tide turned in the bottom of the fifth when Lew Ford got the Ducks on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly to deep right field. Ducks’ starter Shaun Garceau followed in the top of the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning to set the table for Long Island’s comeback.
The Flock did just that, as a solo home run from Adam Bailey – his team-leading 20th of the season – and an RBI single from Fehlandt Lentini in the bottom of the seventh evened up the ballgame at three. Long Island carried the momentum through a scoreless eighth inning, despite Ford drawing a lead-off walk and the Ducks twice having the winning run on base. The Barnstormers capitalized in the ninth, taking the lead for good on a two-out, two-run single from Blake Gailen. It marked another close loss for the Ducks this year, and another exciting chapter in the story between these two teams this season.
CLICK HERE to view the full recap from Tuesday’s game, complete with audio highlights and postgame comments from Kevin Baez and Shaun Garceau.
Gearing towards tonight, the Flock will send Jared Lansford to the mound for his 25th start of the season. The third-year Duck, and first-year starting pitcher, has continued his strong play all season long, carrying an 8-5 record alongside a 3.03 earned run average and 116 strikeouts against 40 walks in 154 and one-third innings pitched. Lansford’s ERA ranks third in the Atlantic League, while his strikeouts rank fifth. The righty made his first start of the season (and first start since 2008) against Lancaster on May 10th, tossing three shutout innings on two hits while striking out five. Overall against the ‘Stormers, Lansford is 0-1 in three starts with a 3.12 ERA (six earned runs in 17 and one-third innings).
He will work against Shunsuke Watanabe tonight, who toes the rubber for his 38th appearance (15th start) of the year. The first-year ‘Stormer is 8-2 this year with a 3.42 ERA and 84 strikeouts against just 28 walks in 113 and one-third innings of work. Watanabe has not lost since July 3 at Somerset, and has not allowed more than two runs in any appearance since yielding three runs over four and one-third innings of relief against the Ducks on July 10 in a winning effort. In addition, the Japan countryman has won each of his last four starts, including a complete game his last time out on September 12 against the Sugar Land with eight strikeouts. In five relief appearances against Long Island this year, Watanabe is 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA (four runs over seven and two-thirds innings).
Here are today’s game notes:
Ducks vs. Barnstormers: Tonight marks the 19th meeting of the season between the Ducks and Barnstormers and ninth of 10 games between them on Long Island. The Barnstormers lead the series 12-6, including a 5-3 edge at Bethpage Ballpark. Long Island and Lancaster have played 192 games against each other all-time, with the Ducks holding a 99-93 lead and a 48-44 advantage at home.
Challenge Accepted (and Met): Adam Bailey’s solo home run in the seventh inning on Tuesday was his team-leading 20th homer of the season. In addition, it was the 100th home run for Long Island this year, meaning the Ducks have met the Chapey’s Home Run Challenge. Chapey’s Funeral Homes will now donate $5,000 to the QuackerJack Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ducks. Long Island has now met the Chapey’s Home Run Challenge in eight consecutive seasons. Bailey is the first Duck to hit 20 homers in a single season since Brandon Sing launched 26 in 2012.
The Streak Continues: With two hits on Tuesday, Cody Puckett has now hit safely in six consecutive games. During the streak he is batting .375 (9-for-24) with two doubles, one homer, two RBI, three runs and one walk. Puckett has now totaled 29 two-hit and 43 multi-hit games this season.
Off to the Races: Fehlandt Lentini stole his 46th base of the season in the first inning on Tuesday. The all-time independent baseball stolen base leader has yet to be caught stealing in any of his attempts this year. He ranks second in the Atlantic League in steals behind Wilson Valdez of York (53). In addition, Lentini earned his team-leading 36th two-hit game of the year and 48th multi-hit game overall.
Oh, What a Relief They Are: With a scoreless inning on Tuesday, Kris Regas tossed his fifth consecutive scoreless appearance. In those five outings, the southpaw has allowed three hits and one walk while striking out four. Despite giving up two runs on Tuesday, the Ducks bullpen has combined to allow three runs over their last 13.2 innings (1.98 ERA) on 11 hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts.
Smacking the ‘Stormers: Lew Ford continued his outstanding play against the Barnstormers this season with a sacrifice fly and walk on Tuesday. He leads all Ducks players with a .444 (32-for-72) batting average, 23 RBI, 15 runs, 32 hits and 10 walks in 18 games against the ‘Stormers. On the mound, Josh Lansford and Brett Lorin have combined to throw 8.2 scoreless innings against Lancaster in 2014. Jared Lansford leads all Ducks starters with a 3.12 ERA this season against the Barnstormers.
On the Air: Today’s ballgame with be broadcast with live streaming audio and video available on the Ducks official YouTube channel by CLICKING HERE. Chris King will call the play-by-play.
Finally, here are today’s starting lineups.
#24 Fehlandt Lentini – RF
#25 Brendan Harris – 3B
#20 Lew Ford – CF
#13 Adam Bailey – LF
#11 C.J. Retherford – DH
#2 Cody Puckett – 2B
#14 Brandon Bantz – C
#22 Joash Brodin – 1B
#12 Dan Lyons – SS
#21 Jared Lansford – RHP
#2 Blake Gailen – CF
#10 Olmo Rosario – 3B
#8 Cole Garner – LF
#24 Andrew Clark – DH
#35 Brett Carroll – RF
#30 Wilson Batista – 3B
#15 Gabe Jacobo – 1B
#4 Lance Zawadzki – SS
#28 Keith Castillo – C
#9 Shunsuke Watanabe – RHP
Be sure to check back here for updates throughout the ballgame from Bethpage Ballpark as the Ducks look to get back to their winning ways!
UPDATE (6:46): TOP 1: Lancaster opens the game with a solo homer to right by Blake Gailen. 1-0 Barnstormers.
UPDATE (7:31): TOP 3: The ‘Stormers extend their lead to three on Olmo Rosario’s RBI single and Andrew Clark’s sacrifice fly.
UPDATE (7:46): BOT 3: RBI fielder’s choice by Lew Ford cuts the deficit to 3-1. It is Ford’s 93rd RBI of 2014, just two shy of the league lead (95, Chad Tracy, York)!
UPDATE (8:15): TOP 5: Wilson Batista hits a two-out, two-run homer to right, which extends the Lancaster lead to 5-1.
UPDATE (8:31): BOT 5: Ducks tack on their second run of the game on a RBI ground out to second by Brendan Harris!
UPDATE (9:17): BOT 7: A run-scoring ground out off the bat of Fehlandt Lentini has trimmed the deficit to two at 5-3!
UPDATE (9:49): BOT 8: Cody Puckett ties the game at five with a two-run double to right-center field! He extends his hitting streak to seven games!
UPDATE (10:02): FINAL: Brendan Harris delivers a waddle-off RBI double to left-center field! Fourth walk-off victory of the year! Ducks win it 6-5!