Sunday, October 07, 2012

Atlantic League Championship - Final Game Tonight

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Lancaster Barnstormers
Long Island, New York
Series Tied 2-2
I - Lancaster 5; Long Island 1
II - Long Island 9; Lancaster 4
III - Lancaster 12; Long Island 5
IV - Long Island 9; Lancaster 3
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Avoid Elimination With Big Inning In Game Four.  Force Deciding Game Five.
Rain is in the forecast.  Should Mother Nature allow, the final game of the 2012 Atlantic League Championship series between the Ducks and the Lancaster Barnstormers is scheduled for 5pm at The Pond.
Each team is 1-1 when playing in each other's parks.  In Lancaster, the Ducks opened the series with a loss, then came back to win Game Two.  Upon return to Long Island, the Ducks dropped Game Three, then rallied for seven runs in the sixth inning Saturday evening to force a Game Five today.  If the pattern of alternating victories holds true, the Lancaster Barnstormers will be crowned Atlantic League Champions tonight.  But this is when Long Island's decision to start the playoffs on the road is supposed to pay off.  Home field advantage is theirs.
Of the four teams to make the playoffs this season, the Long Island Ducks posted the worst record, while Lancaster's 2012 regular season record was the league's best.  The Ducks season is a tale of two halves; one bearing a division title, and the other about a precipitous fall.  The Lancaster Barnstormers were consistent, if not dominant all season long.  They won both division flags this season.  None of that matters now.  There is only one game left in the Atlantic League season.  After tonight, the league will have a new champion.

Atlantic League Championship Trophy
In the championship series last season, the Ducks bowed to the York Revolution who repeated as Atlantic League champions.  While Long Island's pitching held up for the most part, bolstered by the return of Mike Loree, the Duck's mighty offense disappeared in an instant.
Late in the 2012 season and through the playoffs, this season's reconstructed starting pitching has proven resilient.  And offensively speaking, the Ducks have shown their playoff bats are here to stay.  Last year's batting champion, Kraig Binick, battled through a significant drop off this season.  He has seemingly regained his stroke of last season in time for the playoffs.  Brandon Sing has been nothing short of clutch in the post season.  And guys like Joash Brodin and Bryant Nelson keep driving in runs.  So the outlook for this afternoon's game is indeed promising.
Bobby Blevins, acquired from the Rockland Boulders late in the season, managed six appearances for the Ducks this season, and made four starts.  He started twenty games for Rockland and posted an 8-9 record with a 3.64 earned run average.  In six games, he posted a 2.42 ERA for the Ducks.  Bobby Blevins surrendered three earned runs in six innings against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the first round in a game the Ducks won by a 5-4 score.  Today he is tasked with pitching Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship series.
Opposing him will be Dwayne Pollock.  In Wednesday's opening game of the 2012 Atlantic League championship series, the league's regular season ERA King did what he does best - win games and make opposing runs a scarce commodity.  In Game One, Dwayne Pollock, who also tied for the league lead in wins, pitched six innings of shutout ball against the Long Island Ducks.  He  surrendered four hits, walked two, and struck out five for the win.
GAME FOUR RECAP:  A Seven Run, Sixth Inning Quack Attack, Forces Game Five

Facing elimination, the Ducks turned to John Brownell to pitch Game Four.  After just an inning of play, the home team's outlook dimmed as Lancaster went to work right away.  With three hits in the first inning, the Barnstormers claimed an early 2-0 lead.

Opposing Brownell was Lancaster's Mark Brackman.  While John Brownell settled down and kept the Barnstormers scoreless over the next five innings, the Ducks finally chipped a run off Lancaster's lead in the fifth inning.  With two outs, Dan Lyons and Kraig Binick both singled.  Mark Brackman then hit Joash Brodin with a pitch to load the bases.  That caused manager Butch Hobson to emerge from the Barnstormers dugout and remove his starting pitcher.  Joe Bateman entered in relief and immediately unleashed a wild pitch to score Dan Lyons from third base.

John Brownell wound up pitching a strong six innings.  The three hits and two runs he surrendered in the first inning were all he allowed.  Two walks and two strikeouts complete his line.  Then in the bottom of the sixth, his mates put him on the winning side of the game with a seven run explosion.

An RBI single by Mitch Canham started the Ducks off.  Kriag Binick's RBI single delivered run number two.  Joash Brodin's single delivered run number three.  A walk to Ray Navarrete forced run number four across the plate.  Bryant Nelson then cleared the bases with a three RBI triple, giving the Ducks an 8-2 lead.

Mitch Canham had another RBI single in the seventh for the Ducks.  Lancaster's Ryan Harvey homered off Jared Lansford in the ninth.  The Ducks win a 9-3 final.


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