The Long Island Ducks evened their best-of-five Independent Atlantic League playoffs series last night at a game apiece after they topped the Somerset Patriots, 4-1. Ducks’ starter Matt Larkins struggled for five and two thirds innings, but somehow gave up only one run. The right hander, known for his control, walked seven and struck out four but the Patriots left 11 men on base.
The Ducks’ infield defense was on display as shortstop Dan Lyons, second baseman Elmer Reyes and third baseman Giovanny Alfonzo made some of the most outstanding plays of the season, converting what should have been hits into outs. The defensive clinic included a game ending, 4-5-3 double play that was hit into by one of the Patriots’ fastest runners Olmo Rosario.The middle infield play of Lyons and Reyes has been at the top of the league this season.
The Ducks’ bullpen took the cue from the infield defense. Lefty Dustin Richardson started the seventh inning as Ducks’ manager Kevin Baez went with his closer against the meat of Somerset’s lineup.
It was a brilliant move as Richardson proceeded to retire the number three hitter Rosario on a lazy fly to right and then struck out former Yankee prospect Kyle Roller and David Vidal.
Ducks catcher Alex Berg homered to right center in the sixth inning to give Long Island a comfortable three run lead. With the way the bullpen performed last night, they really didn’t need it.
One thing that caught my eye was the play of the Somerset outfielders. Right fielder Aharon Eggleston, center fielder and former back-up quarterback to Christian Ponder at Florida State, DVontrey Richardson, and left fielder Aharon Eggleston have to be one of, if not, the fastest outfields in pro ball at any level. The group’s defensive prowess could play a role in the remainder of the series.
For now the momentum is with the “Quackers” from Long Island as the teams travel to Somerset, New Jersey tonight, where they will continue what is now a best-of-three game series. I like the Ducks’ chances as they look to bring home another championship to Long Island.