Long Island Ducks: Flock Withstands Barnstormers Barrage; Bullpen Makes Comeback Stand for 11-10 Victory at Bethpage Ballpark.
The Ducks took no time to lick their wounds after getting swept by the Bluefish, and getting outscored by a combined 26-8 margin over three games in Bridgeport.
Long Island returned home on Friday to host the defending Atlantic League champions, Lancaster Barnstormers for a 4-game weekend series.
Game one against the Barnstormers started much like games One and Two did against the Bluefish, very much resembling another ensuing blowout.
Eric Niesen toed the rubber at Bethpage Ballpark, and was opposed by Lancaster's Bryan Evans.
After each team traded runs in the 1st inning, Lancaster stormed out to an 8-1 lead with a 7 run outburst in the 3rd inning. Eric Niesen walked the bases loaded, and with 1-out surrendered a grand slam home run to right fielder Brian Cavazos-Galves. With 2-outs, Niesen committed an error, and then proceeded to surrender back-to-back home runs by Michael Broad and Yusuke Kajimoto.
Frank DeJulio Jr. entered the game in relief of Niesen in the top of the 4th inning. With 2-outs, he hit Cavazos-Galves with a pitch. A double and a passed ball later, and Lancaster owned a 9-1 lead.
The Ducks finally snapped out of their offensive funk in the bottom of the frame. With 1-out, Jon Griffin was hit by a Bryan Evans pitch. Second baseman Reggie Corona then tripled him home, and scored when Erik Komatsu later hit a ground rule double. Dan Lyons and Bryan Sabatella then drove in a run each. With 2-outs, Cody Puckett's singled plated 2 more runs to bring the Ducks within 9-7 of the Barnstormers.
Barnstormers left fielder Yusuke Kajimoto struck again with an RBI triple off Frank DeJulio Jr. in the top of the 5th to extend Lancaster's lead by a 10-7 margin.
But the Ducks roared back for three more runs in the bottom of the frame to even the score. Reggie Corona led off with a single to left. With 1-out, an E-2 and an RBI single by Erik Komatsu made it a 10-8 game. Dan Lyons followed with another base hit, and after a wild pitch advanced the runners, Bryan Sabatella's single plated two runs for the tie.
The Ducks bullpen then proceeded to pitch 5 innings of no-hit, no-run baseball.
In the bottom of the 9th, Cody Puckett reached safely on an infield single to third off reliever Bryan Morgado. Big Jon Griffin then stepped in, and delivered a double to right. Cody Puckett scored all the way from first to give Long Island the win.
Hector Ambriz earned the victory in relief, while Bryan Morgado suffered the loss for Lancaster.
- With a strikeout in Friday's game, Jon Griffin has now fanned 20 times (38%) in 52 at-bats. He is only batting .154 with 4 extra base hits, but he arguably delivered the Ducks biggest hit of the young season Friday night. The Ducks sorely need him to improve his hitting, and his slugging in particular.
- This was Eric Niesen's third and certainly shortest outing thus far. It follows a strong performance against Sugar Land, in which he allowed just a run in 6 innings, on 7 hits, no walks and 8 strikeouts. On this night, Niesen escaped with a no decision after just 3 innings, having allowed 8 runs (5 ER) on 5 hits and a lofty 8 walks. He faced 21 batters and fanned 5 before exiting the game. His ERA grew to a 5.14 mark, with a 1.790 WHiP. This was only his 5th start in 154 regular season appearances for the Ducks since 2012.
With Friday's victory, the Ducks evened their record at 7-7, and stayed with 1.5 games of the 1st place Somerset Patriots. All four Liberty Division teams are playing at .500 or above.
The defending champions are one of only two Atlantic League teams playing sub-par baseball. Their 5-10 record is presently worst in the league.