The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side defeated a well-balanced D2 squad by the score of 5-1 in front of a packed bleacher of enthusiastic fans on a mild late Spring evening at Spring View Field, improving the Ducks record to 7-7 on the season. It was the second straight win of this home-and-home series across back-to-back nights against D2. It also marks four straight wins for this veteran club who seemingly have found our stride.
Brandon Blackstone took the mound for the Ducks and immediately recorded his quickest inning of the night. The Ducks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first when Stef Blackstone led off with a walk and moved to second on a groundout by TJ Morgan who nearly beat out the throw (TJ’s hustle was rewarded with several hard ciders after the game). Stef moved to third on yet another groundout this time time by Tom Pulice which set up Mark Lombardi to do what he does best which is make stuff happen. Lombardi looped a single to right, scoring Stef. 1-0 Ducks heading into the second.
The second inning netted no runs for either side. Brandon cruised again in the top half and the Ducks’ Jason White hit into a double play to end the bottom-half of the inning. White’s mustache appeared to be safe but his foot was a fraction of a second behind the throw.
The D2’s got on the board in the top of the third inning with a homerun ball that probably smashed into the hood of some busted-up and abandoned multi-colored Pontiac Fiero. Google Maps shows this ball likely landed somewhere along Mutzig Street which sounds like a made-up street but I promise you it is there. Mutzig St has no houses and leads to a dead end so that ball will live there for eternity because there is no way any of us are going there to retrieve it.
The Ducks quickly quacked back in the bottom of the third as TJ Morgan drove in Stef Blackstone from first base on a hit and run with a deep drive to left-center. 2-1 Ducks.
In the top of the 4th Brandon Blackstone stranded a runner at third on a sick 1-2 pitch for a strikeout. In the bottom half, D2’s pitcher dominated and struck out the side. He pitched well and has a long beard. In the top of the 5th Blackstone flirted with danger once again by loading the bases but again stranded all runners. The bottom half of the 5th saw Ben Gwin lead off with a crispy grounder to second base which couldn’t be handled by the D2 second baseman. After a strikeout, Mullen grounded into a fielder’s choice when Gwin was thrown out at second. Then Mullen stole second base, followed by a bloop hit to left by Stef Blackstone which scored a speedy Mullen. TJ Morgan walked which brought Mullen back onto the diamond to pinch run. He then took second and Stef took third on a wild pitch. Tom Pulice couldn’t convert but the Ducks had already knocked in 1 run that inning. 3-1 Ducks. Note: prior to the game, Gwin played goalie for his dek hockey team (whose players seemingly range in age from 13 to 71 years old) and won 2-1 in overtime to claim the championship. Congrats to Gwin for standing on his head on the dek and then beating out infield singles in the dirt.
Blackstone rolled in the top of the sixth and got some help on a hit-ball that deflected off his mitt and into a double play. The Ducks tallied two more runs in the bottom of the sixth off a new D2 pitcher. Lombardi walked and Kenny had a fantastic at-bat which resulted in a two-strike single. D-Will walked to load the bases. Ben Doak then hit a bloop single to left which dropped in and allowed Lombardi to score. Gwin hit into a weird double-play situation just behind second base which left both runners in no-man’s land. His at-bat did plate Kenny, which pushed the Ducks ahead for good at 5-1.
Stef Blackstone stepped in to relieve his brother Brandon in the 7th. Stef threw some smoke, but the first batter hit a spray hit to shallow right field where Lombardi raced in to make a diving catch to record the out. It was a dope display of athleticism. If that ball were to drop, it feels like the inning may have got away from us. Alas, it was not to be for D2. After a Spring Hill Hop over second baseman Brandon Blackstone (who was subbed in at second for Stef Blackstone who was subbed in to pitch for Brandon Blackstone), D2 had runners on first and second.
The next batter had a tipped third strike caught by Pulice for the second out.
The final batter of the night hit a soft dribbler to third where Kenny Rayl made a slick scoop and toss. Ballgame: Ducks 5, D2 1.
- The Ducks took the back-to-back games from D2 by a score of 8-3.
- These two teams square off one more time this regular season back at the Pond in early July, with South Oakland already claiming the series win in the best-of-three.
- D2 likely feels as if they had some chances where they didn’t cash in; two fairly matched squads.
- The fans were great. There were women, wives, babies, dogs, coolers filled with ice and beer, siblings, girlfriends and grandparents. All on a pleasant evening in June. Gosh it felt like a southern night and we were all back in 1986 casted in a music video for one of those great “Alabama” songs, not like the modern country music videos with the over-the-pants-handjob visuals and recreational fingerbanging references. This felt like good-ol’ wholesome, American fun.
The Ducks will enjoy a week off then look to keep the winning streak alive while staying back at the Pond to host the Senators next Wednesday.
Guest Blogger: @donnieducko @lonzelle