The Long Island Ducks hosted the Lancaster Barnstormers in a game that was a teeter-totter, with the two clubs trading the lead through eight innings. But the Ducks pulled ahead thanks to a series of big hits for a 7-6 win.
“Another Ducks comeback,” said Michael Polak, a spokesman for the Liberty Division-leading club, calling it a “potential championship game between the two champions of the first half” of the season.
Ducks reliever Ehren Wasserman held the Barnstormers to six runs and came away with the save after starter Mark Diapoules went 4 1/3 innings and left the game with the Ducks trailing 3-1. Hurler Bob Zimmerman left the game after just over an inning, giving up the Duck’s second lead of the night in the seventh. But Bubbie Buzachero and Wasserman finished for Ducks without allowing a run after their rally.
The sixth through eighth innings were the period in which offense on both sides of the diamond came alive as each team dipped into their bullpens to stop the carnage caused by erupting bats.
The Ducks scored a couple of times in the sixth when Erick Monzon and Dan Lyons each singled home a run to move the Ducks into the lead by a score of 4-3. Lancaster struck back and took the lead in the seventh with a three-run blast by Matt Watson.
But the Ducks exploded with three runs in the eighth inning when J.R. House scored on a Dan Lyons double — the first extra base hit for the Ducks in the game.
The offense was not the story through the first four to five innings, where the pitching was solid and batters fanned, flied or grounded out.
A few runs trickled in when the Ducks scored in the first and fifth, and Lancaster scored one in the third and twice in the fifth.
There was a point where neither team had an extra base hit in the game; that sorry streak was snapped when Barnstormer Aaron Herr doubled with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to give Lancaster a 3-1 lead.
The Ducks had scored two runs through five innings, and there was only needed hit to generate those runs. John Rodriguez’s first-inning single drove one in and the second run in the fifth came when Kraig Binick walked to lead off the fifth; Binick then stole second base for his 25th bag of the season. When Barnstormer Cesar Carillo balked and moved Binick over to third base, a sacrifice fly by Javier Colina brought Binick home.
T.J. Beam lost the game for Lancaster. He came in for the eighth inning and was hit hard early; two singles, a double that brought in a run, and a sacrifice fly by Binick that carried what turned out to tie the game.
Beam then gave up the go-ahead run for Long Island when he served up a double to Ray Navarrete allowing Dan Lyons to score.
It was a game of head-scratchers, not only because the teams took turns leading each other or because the pace picked up dramatically in its final third. But several players’ hot and cold streaks took a break.
The lack of extra base hits for Long Island was unusual since the Ducks lead the Atlantic League in extra base hits entering the game, with a total of 251.
Carrillo’s pitching was puzzling, too. The hurler had allowed an average of six runs a game coming into the contest but he held the Barnstormers to three runs before his exit. And one of those runs came after Tim McNab succeeded him and threw a passed ball that allowed Lew Ford, who Carillo had walked, to score.
The quirks don’t end there.
Ducks first baseman Matt Padgett entered the game with only three hits in his last 23 at bats, a batting average of .130 over the last 10 games. But he went 3 for 4 in the game and scored a run.
His teammate Lew Ford had hit well as of late, he came into the game going 11 for 24 in the last 10 games with two home runs, which is a batting average of .458. But Ford went 0 for 3 at Bethpage Ballpark with a walk while hitting into two double plays.
Lancaster had also entered the game with 86 errors in 76 games played up to the game. But Aaron Herr made a diving play in the first inning to showcase the solid Barnstormer defense.
The one thing that wasn’t unusual about the game was the outcome, a win that extends the Ducks dominance and enhances their season overall record to 49 wins and 27 losses, an impressive .644 winning percentage. They boast a 9-4 record in the second half of a winning season.