LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Pitcher James Houser And Bullpen Out-Duel Barnstormers In Rubber Game.
It's Off To Texas For A Major Showdown Between
The Atlantic League's Two Division Leaders.
Pressed into starting duties back in early June, James Houser was large and in charge Thursday night in Lancaster, as the Long Island Ducks took the rubber game over the Barnstormers by a 3-1 final score. Making his eleventh start and his twenty-seventh appearance, Houser tossed six innings, allowed one unearned run in the fourth inning, walked no batters and struck out eight before departing a 1-1 deadlock. He now has seventy-seven strikeouts in 72.1 innings pitched this season, but in taking a no-decision, his record remains 7-1 with a lowered 2.36 ERA.
Lancaster took the initial lead, but the Ducks came right back to tie in the top of the fifth when catcher Ramon Castro led off with his seventh home run of the season off Barnstormers starting pitcher Derrick Loop, who incidentally didn't do too badly for himself. Loop pitched seven full, allowed Castro's solo home run, and five hits in all. He walked one batter and likewise struck out eight.
Long Island broke the tie in the top of the eighth with an RBI from second baseman Bill Hall and Ramon Castro's second RBI of the game. That put reliever Ian Snell on the winning side. Snell entered the game with two outs in the seventh and tossed a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two. Josh Lansford was then summoned to pitch the ninth, and earned his ninth save of the season. Ian Snell evened his record at 2-2 with the victory.
That was the Ducks twentieth win of the second half, and fiftieth of the season. With a 20-13 record, they own a six game lead in the Liberty Division over second place Bridgeport. They are still only 50-53 for the season, three games below the .500 mark. In fact, no team in the Liberty Division is playing above .500 for the season.
The 2012 defending champs are now headed for Texas, where a big six game series versus the Sugar Land Skeeters awaits. Sugar Land is leading the Freedom Division with a 23-10 record, three games in front of Lancaster. They also own the Atlantic League's top overall mark with a 70-33 record. At this juncture of the season, this will be a timely and mighty challenge to see how the Ducks measure up.