DUCKS WIN AGAIN: SOUTH OAKLAND 5, D2 1

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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.

It is also a 12-minute drive from home plate to where the donger landed on Mutzig St.

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.

Gwin’s fundamentals are fun and mental.

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.

Blackstone watches on as Blackstone delivers a pitch. “Blackstone and Blackstone” may sound like attorneys at law but they are not; however, being from Sheraden, they likely have had legal representation at some point in their lives.

The next batter had a tipped third strike caught by Pulice for the second out.

If you zoom in close enough, you can actually see just how miserable Pulice is.

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.

Kenny awaits the dribbler; Kenny hates dribblers.

SOFT TOSS:

  1. The Ducks took the back-to-back games from D2 by a score of 8-3.
  2. 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.
  3. D2 likely feels as if they had some chances where they didn’t cash in; two fairly matched squads.
  4. 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.

Quack.

Guest Blogger: @donnieducko @lonzelle

Midseason Musings

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Daylight dims and dusk draws in.  Indistinguishable chatter dissipates from the dugout.  A scooter is thrown onto the field.  These are the sights and sounds of Ducks baseball in the N.A.B.A.

Every season is special in its own right and the 2017 season is no different, except of course that it is.  There is both quantifiable and unquantifiable differentiation from years past.  We’ve added an Dominican Puerto Rican Hispanic player which has doubled the number of minority Ducks to a total of two (2) players.  This essentially has catapulted us to the top of the league in player diversity.*

Duckversity

Beyond this groundbreaking cultural advancement, there are other somewhat immeasurable moments that consume me.  Just a few weeks ago, I marveled as one of our players pulled a sex toy (presumably) from his baseball bag and applied it in a back-and-forth fashion on his hamstring.  He had injured himself the previous game and apparently stopped at the A-Mart on McKnight Road in-between.  He proceeded to share this toy with several other Ducks who followed his lead by massaging and loosening their hamstrings.  Not one of them found this to be strange.

Some Ducks are aware that I’ve been (lazily) chronicling the season through photos.  I’ve captured a few solid shots.  I have several pics of Joe who happens to be extremely photogenic.  He’s also eating something or is asleep in each photo.  I’m not kidding.  Here’s one of him eating at Wexford.

Joe Eats Wexford

And here’s another one of him asleep on the bench alongside Future Duck HOFer TJ Morgan.

Joe Sleeps

#55 is in the best shape of his life and has never looked faster on the bases.** Sorosky’s mind is always on the mound, even when he isn’t actually on the mound.

Sorosky Contemplates

Dimas has been a nice addition.  He likes contact and he may be the fastest kid in the league.  Here’s a photo of him exiting the bases after being thrown out for the 37th time this season.  He’s even a blur when jogging off the field.

D Out.JPG

I’m told Lombardi takes 100 soft-toss swings every day.  I’m fairly certain I haven’t swung 100 times in the past two seasons.  It’s one of the reasons he hits the ball 300+ feet on a rope and I hit seeing-eye singles.  When we played Carrick, several players post-game in the handshake line congratulated me on my singles.  Like, “hey man, nice singles!”  And they were sincere about it, which made me feel equally appreciative and diminutive.  Anyways here’s a photo of Lombardi at Springview moments before he raked a ball onto Route 28.***

Lombardi

After a slow start, Coach has been on fire in the box, out in the field and in the dugout.  One game I was playing left field alongside him in center and heard him motherf*ck a player from another team like 7 times but I couldn’t discern anything else he was saying nor could I tell if he was serious or joking.  It was awesome.  Here he is managing as Big Mike’s giant arms attempt to rip off his own head.

Coach Ben.JPG

Jon Moore has done a masterful job of sporting this season.  Pulice has been a solid addition and I cannot wait to get drunk with him.  We have two (2) sets of brothers on the squad (f*ck you Roberto and Sandy Alomar!): the Italian Casale boys, anchored by 2016 MVP Tony and the Hunky (presumably) Zuzak crew who are led by cooler-than-a-polar-bear’s-toenails Chuck.  DJ flies in from Erie, at least I’m pretty sure he does, which clearly has given him time to get his mind straight as he’s crushing the ball this season.  Chvarak is older than me which makes me happy and he can hit top pitching while sitting in his wheelchair.  I don’t believe Strom has broken a bat or his face yet this year which is an accomplishment.  He’s the quintessential Duck IMO.  Nichols, Doc, Heisler, Patton and some Annerino kid who attends the University of Wisconsin and is young enough to be my kid keep us in games when our bats go silent.  Ultimately, I need more Brandt and Swetz: plain and simple.  Honestly – I love this team.

Oh, and there’s been a buttload of rain in June.  That’s my reflection on the season to-date.  I hope to post another soon.****  Besides, I made it through this entire post without screwing up once.  So until then, as us Ducks say: Quick.

*Prolly not true.

**Another lie.

***Bit of a stretch, but not entirely false as we could not confirm nor deny where that ball landed.

****Dicey.