Sunday, October 07, 2012

Long Island Ducks Win 2012 Atlantic League Championship

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

I - Barnstormers 5; Ducks 1
II - Ducks 9; Barnstormers 4
III - Barnstormers 12; Ducks 5
IV - Ducks 9; Barnstormers 3
Ducks 5; Barnstormers 4

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Win Ninth Inning Thriller;
Walk-Off Bunt Saves The Day, And Championship.
Ducks Win Club's Second Atlantic League Title.
SS-Dan Lyons Named Series MVP.
Long Island Fans Enjoy First Championship At The Pond.

Bobby Blevins started Game Five for Long Island, and pitched six spirited innings before leaving on the winning side of a 4-2 Ducks lead.  He allowed Lancaster to score single runs in the second and fourth innings.  He allowed five hits in all.  Blevins walked no batters and struck out five before giving way to a combination of Matt May, Eric Niesen, and Jared Lansford, who pitched scoreless baseball over the next two innings.

On the mound for Lancaster was Dwayne Pollok, who won the league's ERA title and tied for the lead in wins.  He was victorious over the Ducks in Game One, and was starting Game Five on three days rest.

The Ducks jumped on Pollok right away with two runs in the first inning.  An error by Lancaster's center fielder allowed the Ducks to score their first run.  A single by Bryant Nelson knocked in their second run.  In the second inning, Joash Brodin's RBI single delivered Dan Lyons home with the Ducks third run.  The Ducks scored a fourth time off Pollok in the fifth inning when Matt Esquivel doubled home Bryant Nelson.

After eight innings of rather stellar baseball, the Long Island Ducks second year manager Kevin Baez placed the ball, a 4-2 Ducks lead, the Ducks season, and the team's championship hopes into the right hand of his closer, Leo Rosales.

The first batter he faced, Lancaster's third baseman Travis Denker, crushed the fifth pitch he saw for a home run.  The Ducks lead was now down to one.  Loe Rosales then walked the second batter he faced.  That runner advanced to second on a grounder to first, then proceeded to third base when Rosales unleashed a wild pitch against Lancaster's next batter.  With the tying runner on third, Rosales managed a strikeout for out number one.  Lancaster's Gilberto Mejia then followed with a four hopper to shortstop Dan Lyons.  The ground ball seemingly gave Lyons trouble off the bat.  He failed to field it cleanly, and delivered a throw in the dirt which first baseman Brandon Sing was unable to scoop.  Unbelievably, and to the dismay of the home crowd, the Barnstormers tied the game at four runs apiece.  What was once within Long Island's grasp was now seemingly slipping away.

Into the bottom of the ninth inning they went.  With one out, Lee Cruz got last licks started when he drew a walk.  Matt Esquivel drew a second consecutive base on balls.  As Mitch Canham reached safely on a fielder's choice, Lee Cruz was wiped from the bases.  Lancaster pitcher Josh Dew then unleashed a wild pitch which advanced Matt Esquivel to third base.  With two outs, the next batter, Dan Lyons surprised everyone and laid down a bunt down the third base line.  Matt Esquival scored as there was no play at first base.

Of all manners to win a game, the Long Island Ducks won the 2012 Atlantic League Championship on a walk-off bunt.  Dan Lyons went from the lowest depths of despair after committing the costliest of errors in the top of the inning, to ascending the high of exhilaration.  Dan Lyons was named series MVP for his overall efforts in the five game series.  But in truth, many deserve credit for securing the Ducks second ever championship trophy.

In 2004, Kevin Baez played on the Ducks first championship winning team.  Now, in his second season as manager, Coach Baez wins his second title with the club.  After falling to the York Revolution in four games during last season's Finals, Coach Baez led the organization to its first title since that 2004 season, and the Ducks second in thirteen years as members of the Atlantic League.

I would like to extend a special congratulations to Buddy Harrelson, for many many reasons.


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