Ducks Lose. Season Over

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The Ducks lost to the South Side Eagles 11-10 in game three of the AA Pittsburgh NABA Championship series last night in West End. South Oakland led 2-0 until the Eagles tied it in the third. The Eagles jumped out to a 5-2 lead after four. The Ducks scored seven in the sixth to take a 9-5 lead, but the Eagles tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. The Ducks took a 10-9 lead in the top of the seventh, but could not hold the lead. Randy Patton was the tough luck loser on the mound for South Oakland, allowing the last two unearned runs of the game.

The Eagles won their first title in three tries, losing to in the Single A finals in 2010 or 2011 to either the Devils or Warriors, and to the Bandidos in the Noonan Wedding Series of 2017. This was the Ducks second, second-place finish (lost to Elliot 2-1 in 2011).

Congrats to the Eagles. They had a great regular season and they have a talented roster. I’m glad a legacy team won it, if we didn’t. South Side has been around since 2005 and this is their first title. Good job.

My head says this is the second best way to finish a season, but my heart says it’s the worst.

We had no pitching until Bret Miller and the Oilers sent us Casen and Zach who each won two playoff games for us. We pulled Ducks legend Anthony DeFilippo out of retirement at the deadline. We struggled with attendance problems most of the year and limped in to the playoffs with a 10-14 record.

Going into the tournament, we felt like we could play with anyone, but we had a low seed and a tough draw. We were a long shot. Our odds got worse when we wound up in the losers bracket, but we battled. We had an objectively great post-season run that came up short. I’m gutted.

Baseball: Montreal Expos Andre Dawson (10) in acton, making catch vs Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field Chicago, IL 9/11/1981 CREDIT: Heinz Kluetmeier (Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X26016 TK2 R5 F4 )

Neither team wanted to win last night. We gave them a three run lead, they gave it right back, and then we gave it back again. Even after all that, we were up one in the bottom of the seventh. Randy got ground balls from their first two batters. In the last inning, the umpires definitely missed one call, maybe two, but we shouldn’t have been in that position. They might have missed a couple earlier in the game. We should know the umps are going to be bad. They were bad all season.

I really thought we had it when we knocked that hard throwing lefty out of the game. We made too many mistakes at the wrong times. We let it get away from us. It was an ugly game. I’m sad we lost, and that I couldn’t do more to help us win.

Our big missed opportunity was game 1. We didn’t hit well after a week off, and we wasted a great start by Cody Quinn. We could have won at home. The atmosphere at game 2, and throughout the playoffs was awesome.

I’m old.

We went 12 seasons between championship appearances. I will play until I can’t, but I don’t think I have 12 more productive seasons left. None of us thought we’d make it to the finals in mid May, but to get here and then lose in such a heart breaking fashion is a different pain. It hurts because we might not get a better shot. It’s not just the sadness but the vacuum created by the joy that would have been. There’s nothing to fill it.

Still, it was the best playoff run I’ve been a part of since we dropped down a division. It was the most fun I’ve had playing baseball probably since 2003. Even in 2010, it was more relief when we won than joy.

Even now, I’m an optimist. A bunch of old guys and castoffs faced a first-place team led by a group of active college players and we took them to the wire.

I’m proud of the way we played in the playoffs. I’m also proud of the way our guys filled roles and didn’t complain about playing time. Everyone just wanted to win. Everyone was playing hurt and playing hard. Team chemistry is better than it has been in years. We aren’t washed quite yet.

We will be back next year and ready to go for our 20th anniversary season. Maybe we’ll get a jersey patch or something. That would be cool.

Thanks for reading, and sorry about the low quality and frequency of the blog this year.

Quack.

Ducks Sweep Weekend, Advance to Championship Series

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The South Oakland Ducks defeated the Sheraden Jays 4-3 to advance to the NABA Double A Championship Series, Sunday evening in Spring Hill. It was the Ducks third straight road win at Springview Field in three days.

Friday

TJ Morgan and Alex Swauger led the Ducks offense with three hits apiece, pacing the team to a 9-6 victory over the Bandidos. Tom Pulice had 3 RBI and Anthony DeFilippo hit a solo home run. Casen Wolinsky (W, 2-0) pitched five strong innings, and Luke Hudic recorded the two-inning save (1).

Sunday

In the losers bracket semi-final, Zach Gift pitched a complete game (W, 1-0), and the Ducks scored 5 runs in the first inning to chase D2’s starter. Tom Pulice hit a solo home run in the fifth to put the game out of reach. Final score: Ducks 6, D2 2

In the losers bracket final, the Ducks came back from an early 2-0 deficit behind a strong start from Randy Patton and another save from Hudic (2). Patton (W, 1-1) allowed one earned run through six, but the Jays capitalized on two, first-inning Ducks errors. South Oakland scored one in the third, two in the fourth and one in the sixth. The Jays added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a fielder’s choice.

With the Ducks leading 4-3 in the seventh, Hudic picked off a runner for the first out after a questionable catcher’s interference call, struck out the Jays’ leadoff hitter, walked a batter, then struck out MVP candidate Luke Gapinski to end the game.

The Ducks will face the South Side Eagles in a best-of-three series for the title.

Baseball!

The Ducks advanced to the finals for the fourth time in team history. We beat the Piranhas in 2003 and the Black Sox in 2010. We lost to Elliot in 2011.

We are 5-1 in the playoffs with five of six games as the visiting team. Our one home game was at Herschel Park, and we played three consecutive road games at Springview, our home field.

We beat D2 twice by a combined score of 16-4. D2 beat us 10-0 when we last played them in the regular season.

Before this year, we had never played the Bandidos or Cranberry in the playoffs. We played them both this post-season: a 7-0 loss to Jon Hart at Cranberry, and a 9-6 win over the Bandidos on Friday.

After hitting zero home runs in the regular season, we have hit three in six playoff games (Rayl, Defilippo, Pulice).

Entering the tournament as the no. 7 seed, we beat the 8, 6 (twice), 5, and 2 seeds to reach the finals against the no. 1 seed South Side Eagles.

The Eagles earned a double bye in the playoffs, and beat the Bandidos and Sheraden in the winners bracket to advance to the Championship Series.

Today’s win got us back to .500 on the season (15-15).

Date and time of Game 1 of the Championship Series is tbd.

What a run.

Quack.