Saturday, May 30, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Somerset Patriots deliver key blow in pivotal Game Three

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Showdown in Somerset

Patriots lead series 2-1
I - LID 7; SOM 6
II - SOM 1; LID 0
III - SOM; 3; LID 0

Game Four
Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
Noo Joisey

Long Island Ducks: Somerset delivers key blow in Game Three. Flock needs win in series finale just to get back where they started from.

Mother Nature, nor six Patriots runs against Ducks ace John Brownell in the 4th inning of Wednesday's series opener could deny Long Island from striking a crucial first blow in their Liberty Division showdown in Somerset.

Storms rumbled through the area delaying the game for 53:00 minutes.

Lew Ford promptly plated Bryan Sabatella for the game's opening run in the 1st inning.  Cody Puckett and Jon Griffin then combined to create a pair of runs in the top of the 4th.

After retiring the first 9 batters he faced, John Brownell took the mound in the bottom of the 4th staked to a 3-0 lead.  He surrendered a lead-off single, then a 2-run home run to Scott Cousins.  David Vidal singled home another run.  With the bases jammed, Brownell walked home the Patriots 4th run. Another 2-out, 2-run single by Jonny Tucker suddenly gave Somerset a 6-3 lead.

In the 5th, runs batted in by Sabatella and Cody Puckett brought the Ducks within a run.  In the 8th, Reegie Corona and Lew Ford drove in two more, making a winner of reliever Patrick Crider, whom pitched a scoreless 7th.  Ryan Kussmaul pitched a scoreless 9th for his 8th save of the season.

At the time, the victory brought the Ducks to within 3 games of the 1st place Patriots, whom had finally suffered their 10th loss of the season.  They were the last team boast single-digits in the loss column.

*         *

In Game Two, the Ducks failed to maximize on a great effort by starter Mickey Jannis.  He and Somerset's Sean Bierman dueled for 8 scoreless innings.  Jannis allowed just 3 hits, walked none and fanned 8 before departing the game to a no decision.  Bierman likewise allowed 6 hits, walked one and fanned 4 before exiting to a no decision.

Into extra innings they went.

In the 12th, reliever Amalio Diaz broke a cardinal rule of baseball - he walked lead-off batter Jonny Tucker, whom then stole second base.  In his first game back after getting hit by a pitch earlier in the week, Aharon Eggleston singled to plate Tucker with the winning, and game's only run.

*         *         *

Then came Friday's Game Three.  After Thursday's stingy 12-inning performance, Somerset continued demonstrating why they lead the league in pitching.

Starter David Harden faced 18 batters, and threw just 60 pitches with 40 going for strikes.  In 5 innings of work, he allowed no runs on just 4 hits and a walk, and fanned a pair upon exiting on the winning side of a 3-0 game.

Shortstop Robert Andino's RBI off Long Island starter Billy Buckner opened the scoring in the 2nd.   Somerset's main slugging threat, clean-up hitter Chris Marrero then connected off Buckner with a 2-run home run in the 3rd that gave the Patriots their eventual 3-0 margin of victory.

Four Patriots relievers combined to keep Long Island silent.  They allowed just one hit, walked one and fanned 3 batters over 4 innings pitched.  Former Duck John Hunton earned his 6th save.

The Ducks are now forced to win Game Four on Saturday in order to get back where they started from - meaning 4 games out of first.


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