Sunday, September 27, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Win or Go Home; Liberty Division Finale

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Liberty Division


Series tied 2-2
I - SOM 5; LID 3
II - LID 5; SOM 4
III - LID 9; SOM 4
IV - SOM 4; LID 0
V - Series Finale

Long Island Ducks
Somerset Patriots
Some Ballpark

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Flock get feathers whitewashed by Patriots, setting up decisive Game Five showdown in Somerset.

Ducks versus Patriots is as fine a professional baseball rivalry as there is in baseball.

So when the league's top two teams square off against each other, it's only natural the Liberty Division playoff series would get pushed to its limit.

With the Patriots facing elimination, Somerset's starter Will Oliver hurled his mates into a decisive Game Five showdown against the Long Island Ducks.

Making only his 10th start as a member of the Patriots, Oliver tossed a complete game shutout over the Atlantic League's #1 offense.  Will allowed just 3 scattered hits, walked a batter, and fanned a pair for the victory.  He faced 30 batters, threw 113 pitches with 80 (71%) going for strikes, and averaged an efficient 12.5 pitches per frame.

Bruce Kern toed the rubber for Long Island, and traded zeroes with Oliver through the first 5 innings of play.  But, the regular season's top team finally broke through in the 6th.  Thomas Neal kicked things off with a 2-out double.  Then following an intentional walk to the red hot Michael Burgess, first baseman Matt Fields singled, and third baseman David Vidal doubled to help mount a 3-0 lead.

Kern did not reappear for the 7th inning after allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, and fanning 7 batters in a losing effort.

Reliever Mariel Checo hit the first batter (Ollie Linton) he faced, whom eventually scored giving the Patriots their 4-0 margin of victory.

With a win in Sunday's series finale, the Ducks would advance to their 5th ever championship series, and their 4th in the last 5 years.

A Patriots victory would give Somerset their 10th championship series appearance in their 18 year history.  They are 5-time Atlantic League champions, but not since 2009 when they capped off back-to-back titles.

In 2013, they were defeated by these very same Long Island Ducks, whom were making their third straight championship series appearance, and completing their own back-to-back title run.

Game Five is a rematch between starters John Brownell and Roy Merritt.

Brownell's 12 regular season victories tied for the league lead, while his 146 strikeouts led all pitchers.

Somerset, however, got the best of Long Island's ace in Game One, scoring 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks through Brownell's 6 innings of work.  Roy Merritt likewise pitched 6 innings, but limited the Ducks to an earned run on 6 hits for the victory.

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs captured the Freedom Division championship 
by defeating the Lancaster Barnstormers three games to one.

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