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.
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.
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.