Friday, May 01, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Opening Night at the Pond

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Sugar Land Skeeters
Bethpage Ballpark

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: It's Opening Night for the only professional show in town.

The New York Islanders have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, which effectively punches their railroad ticket to Brooklyn, and thus ends an era.  The next place their four Stanley Cup championship banners will yet wave will be inside Barclays Center, which is roughly 30 miles west of Uniondale.

The Ducks are now Long Island's lone remaining professional sports team.  If you didn't know, they own three championship banners - thank you.  And, their fans are no less passionate.  They might even be one in the same.

Over six million served, and counting....

Tonight, loyal bugs of the Suffolk County Nine will file into Bethpage Ballpark to open their 16th season of Atlantic League baseball together, as the Ducks host the Sugar Land Skeeters for a 3-game weekend series.

Take Me Out With The Crowd:

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

The Ducks led the Atlantic League in attendance in 2011, but not since.

What changed?

The Sugar Land Skeeters...  In each of their first three seasons of existence, they have led the circuit in attendance.

2011 - Ducks #1, Somerset #2
2012 - Sugar Land #1, Ducks #2, Somerset #3
2013 - Sugar Land #1, Ducks #2, Somerset #3
2014 - Sugar Land #1, Somerset #2, Ducks #3

In 2011, the Ducks put forth a dominant offensive season, but short circuited in the playoffs.  The exciting regular season nonetheless kept the turnstiles spinning with 382, 000 fans filling the park.

Despite winning a championship in 2012, attendance dropped to 377, 400 fans.  The trend continued in 2013, as the Ducks captured their second straight title but saw attendance drop yet again to 371, 100 fans.

Last season, the Ducks fell out of contention, and attendance reflected that.  The Ducks only pulled in 344,500 fans to the park.  That's a 26,000+ reduction from 2013, and 37,500 fans below their 2011 total.

Root, root, root, for the home team:

Previously - Long Island Ducks 2015 Season Preview

Updated starting rotation:
  • John Brownell
  • Mark Rogers
  • Ian Marshall
  • Mickey Jannis
  • Sergio Perez
The Ducks started 6 different pitchers in their first 6 games.

Eric Niesen climbed the hill for Tuesday's game against Southern Maryland.  It was only his third ever start in 152 appearances for the Ducks.  He pitched 5 innings in a losing effort, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, with 3 strikeouts.

On Wednesday, Long Island pitching turned in their first combined shutout of the season.  Mickey Jannis made his Ducks debut against Southern Maryland, and pitched 5 stellar innings.   He allowed no runs on just 2 hits, fanned 3 and walked none.  Four relievers combined on 4 innings of one hit, no run baseball, and fanned 5 batters.  Ryan Kussmaul earned his 4th save.

On Thursday, the Blue Crabs took the series finale in 10 innings.  Mark Rogers made his second start, but was substituted for after just 2.2 innings pitched.  He allowed an unearned run on one hit, walked 3 and fanned one before exiting with a 3-1 lead.  Frank DeJulio Jr. took the loss in relief, while former Duck pitcher Sean Garceau tossed 8 innings, and fanned 4 batters.

Play Ball...!

John Brownell will starts tonight's Opening Night game against the Skeeters, and will be opposed by lefty Dan Meadows.

With a 4-3 record, the Ducks are tied for the Liberty Division lead with the Camden Riversharks.


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