Sunday, September 30, 2012

Long Island Ducks: Game Five Winners; Going Back To The Finals

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Ducks Win Series 3-2
I - Ducks 4; Blue Crabs 3
II - Ducks 3; Blue Crabs 1
III - Blue Crabs 7; Ducks 5
IV - Blue Crabs 4; Ducks 3
V - Ducks 5; Blue Crabs 4

Coach Baez Leads His Team Back To
The Atlantic League Finals.
Ducks Hold On For 5-4 Victory In Game Five.
Will Face Lancaster Barnstormers For League Title.


Game Five; like this series; and just like this season; started out promising for the Ducks, only to take a perilous turn for the worse.  And in the ninth inning of the last Liberty Division semi final series  game against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the day, the series, and the season, almost came to a disastrous end for the Long Islanders.

The Blue Crabs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.  In the bottom half of the frame, Long Island came back with two runs.  After Ray Navarrete led of with a single, Brandon Sing connected on his third home run of the series, giving the Ducks a 2-1 lead.  Southern Maryland responded quickly however.  In their next at-bat, they constructed two more runs off a fielder's choice, and a sac-fly against Ducks starter Bobby Blevins.

Blevins retired the side in order in each of the first three innings.  He left the game on the losing side of a 3-2 score after six innings pitched.  Blevins hurt his own cause when he balked home the Blue Crabs first run of the game.  In all, he allowed three runs on five hits.  He issued no walks and struck out two.  Out of the bullpen, Eric Niesen, Chris Hayes, and Matt Mays, then combined to keep Southern Maryland quiet over the next two innings.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Ducks struck back.  Brandon Sing reached first base with a one out single.  Bryant Nelson then stepped up and connected on his first home run of the series.  Lee Cruz followed with a double and was removed for pinch runner, Matt Esquivel.  Shawn Williams sent him running home with a two out single, giving the Ducks a 5-3 lead heading into the ninth.

Coach Baez then put the ball, and the game, into the right hand of former Arizona Diamond Back, Leo Rosales.  He walked the first batter he faced, but then struck out the next hitter.  Next up, Jesse Gutierrez' grounder to third baseman Bryan Nelson seemed like a sure double play.  But Nelson over threw second base, and the ball was momentarily misplayed in the outfield as well.  The two base error resulted in a run scored, and put the tying run on second base.  A Rosales wild pitch moved the tying run to third.  Long Island then completed an intentional pass to Matt Padgett.  The Ducks recorded the second out on a fielder's choice when they caught the lead runner in a run down between home and third.  With two outs, Leo Rosales then walked the bases loaded.  Rosales left them all stranded however.  He struck out the last batter he faced to end the game.

Leo Rosales gets credit for an anxiety riddled save.  For Matt Way's one scoreless inning of work in the eighth in which he struck out the side, he gets credit for the win.

The road to redemption now leads through Lancaster.  The Long Island Ducks are heading back to the Atlantic League finals.  They will try and better their results from a year ago, when they lost the championship to the York Revolution.  The Ducks rumbled through a dominant 2011 regular season, only to see their potent offense short circuit against York pitching.

This season, the Long Island crowd was treated to their first home clinching celebration since the club's 2004 championship season.  The Ducks won the first half division flag with a 39-30 record.  But they stumbled mightily in the second half, finishing dead last in the division, and very nearly escaped recording the league's worst regular season record.

In the first round of the post-season, Long Island jumped out quickly and gained a choke hold on the semi final series by winning Games One and Two in Southern Maryland.  But with three opportunities to win one game at home, the Ducks failed in their first two attempts.  The Blue Crabs tied the series on the road setting up Game Five Sunday evening.

The rematch between the Ducks and the York Revolution will not take place.  The Lancaster Barnstormers swept the Freedom Division series against the Wild Card team from York.  Lancaster rolled to first and second half division titles this season, and recorded the circuit's best record.


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