Update: Sept. 24, 2011
Game Three scheduled for Friday evening was rained-out.
Game Three now scheduled for Saturday evening.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: After splitting two games at home; Ducks must now win 2 of 3 on the road.
Their Playoff History on the Road Says They Won't.
Signed back on August 29th; nine days after Mike Loree's contract was sold and shipped off to Altoona; MLB veteran, Josh Banks was brought in to stabilize and lead a pitching staff that had gotten picked apart like turkey scraps off the bone after a Thanksgiving dinner. For a little while there, it looked like the Ducks' starting pitching was having to survive on just that; scraps.
For all the Ducks' hard work this season; including their first and second half pennants; it seemed as if they were falling victim to one of the mission statements of the Atlantic League; which is to help players get back into affiliated baseball.
Then, with the fortuitous return of Mike Loree, he and Josh Banks were supposed to give Long Island that one-two punch needed to win a playoff short series. Last night however, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs had other ideas as they just stole a game on the road. Sorry; they didn't steal it. They pounded away at the Ducks early and made the lead last. Let's be fair. They slugged four doubles and two home runs.
In the second game of the Liberty Division Championship, the Blue Crabs tagged-up Josh Banks early and often to tie the series at one game apiece. Long Island's #2 starter only lasted 2.2 innings Thursday night, and was charged with giving up six runs; five earned. He allowed seven hits; walked two; and struck out two, before giving way to Ruddy Lugo with the Ducks behind 7-0 at the time.
The resilient Ducks started to mount a response in the bottom of the third inning with four runs; one of them unearned. They picked up another pair of runs in the seventh inning. And suddenly, it was a game again as the Ducks closed the gap to within a run.
Southern Maryland scored an insurance run in the eighth. The Ducks were not without their chances this game. And the ninth inning presented them with another. They had the tying runs on first and second base with two outs. But John Rodriguez ended Long Island's night with a weak tapper.
The Game Two final score was Blue Crabs 8; Ducks 6.
This series is now tied.
Both teams will now battle it out in Southern Maryland where this series will conclude with a Liberty Division Champion. As regular season champs, the Long Island Ducks had the option of playing the series' first two games in Long Island, or, play the first two games in Southern Maryland and have the series return to Long Island for the potential final three games. The Ducks opted to play the first two games at home then take the series on the road.
That strategy just may have backfired on them last night. The hope was to win two at home, then go to Southern Maryland with three chances to win one game. With last night's Ducks loss, the Wild Card Blue Crabs now truly own home field advantage and will try and take two of the next three on their own turf. And unfortunately for Long Islanders, the Ducks' two big starters, have already had their turn.
The Long Island Ducks' playoff history on the road is....; well..; bad. In their twelve year history, they are 1-8 in playoff road games. Their lone road win came during their 2004 Championship season. Since then, it's been seven consecutive road losses.
You like those apples? Check these out. In three visits to Southern Maryland this season, the Ducks were swept once; lost 2 of 3 games; and won 2 of 3 games. Want some good news now? The Ducks were an above .500 road team during the regular season.
Let's hope the weather in Southern Maryland is better than it was in the Metro area today. There's baseball to be played this evening.
LIBERTY DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Series Tied 1-1
LONG ISLAND DUCKS
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
A Ballpark in Waldorf
* * * FREEDOM DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES * * *
York Revolution leads series over Lancaster Barnstormers
Game Three ~ Rained Out
Game Three to be played Saturday
York can complete a sweep tonight in Lancaster, PA.