Gameday 11: Ducks vs Cranberry

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (5-5)

vs

Cranberry Crusaders (5-5)

9pm

Springview Field

Probable Starters:

Cranberry: Germani (1-1, 12 K, ERA: 3.13)

Ducks: Welsh (1-1, 26 K, ERA: 2.95)

The Ducks open a two-game series against Cranberry tonight in Spring Hill. South Oakland needs a win to keep within striking distance of what is shaping up to be an exciting pennant race.

If you haven’t already, go vote for Player of the Decade at Cranberry’s blog. Andy does good work over there. He was an actual journalist once.

Everyone is really even this year. The Eagles have lost a couple tough games, too, or it could be even tighter.

It will be interesting to see how the first place Oilers fare when they get a bunch of games in a week. How they handle their games in hand will determine a lot. So far they’ve only lost to us and Cranberry.

Bandidos and Devils played a scorcher last night. At the halfway point of the season, Bandidos CF, Eric Friend is making a strong case for Double A MVP. He’s putting up Dustin Winston type numbers.

2020 has had an old school PGH NABA feel to it. Maybe I’m just overly nostalgic and more appreciative of this season after being stuck in my house all spring. There are all-time stats floating around, and  all-decade teams. Moore Park is back in the rotation, the Carrick’s ace took a couple teammates to the Devils, and the heart and soul of the Black Sox is playing in South Oakland. All the games feel more important. I think there’s a different vibe this season. I hope we all get through it safely.

We need to make a pushThis two game series against Cranberry is big, especially if it comes down to tie-breakers at the end of the year.

We always play well at the Duck Pond. Springview is in the best shape of her life.

Bad News for the Crusaders

Gameday 9: Ducks at Oilers

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (4-4)

at

Hebrew Oilers (3-1)

7:30pm

Moore Park

Probable Starters:

BIG OIL: Pearson

Ducks: Welsh

South Oakland travels to historic Moore Park to play the Hebrew Oilers tonight. This is our first game played under “yellow” conditions. If I did anything right as manager, it was quitting before this season. What a mess. The last game between these two teams played at Moore Park ended in a 6-6 tie. It was so long ago, I still had enough of an arm to throw out a runner. Those were the days. Outfield assists and no pandemic.

BIG OIL lost to Cranberry 13-3 on Sunday, but they only had eight guys. We’ve had a good rotating cast of villains in this league (including the Ducks) and our share of rivalries. The Oilers are right up there in both categories.

They have always beaten us when it matters, though, and as evenly matched as we’ve been over the years, they have a title and another finals appearance under their belt. Both years they beat us in the playoffs after we beat them in the regular season. This is kind of how it was with us and the Black Sox for years. We could never get passed them until we brought in Fago the first time. Since 2010, we’ve made most of our personnel additions from within the league. Usually when teams fold (Hurricanes, Owlz, Militia, Bulldogs and most recently the Black Sox) or their manager pisses off a bunch of players like the Bulldogs. Longevity has benefitted us in this regard. The Oilers don’t add many guys from within the league.

This is a big series for both teams.

We have a few former Black Sox who will feel at home in Brookline tonight. Hopefully that gives us the edge we need.

Bad News for the Oilers

Ducks Win: South Oakland 6, South Hills 1

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Box Score

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (4-4) took advantage of a six-run fourth inning and a solid start from Randy Patton (W, 2-0) to beat the Devils (4-3) last night in Spring Hill. Matt Schmidt pitched 2/3 inning for the save (1) in his first appearance as a Duck.

TJ Morgan had 2RBI for South Oakland to put the game out of reach.

The Devils and Ducks split their two game series. Each team won 6-1 at home.

Early season scoreboard anomalies in AA

We’ve won two extra inning games by three runs, beating the Eagles 7-4 (9 inn.) and the Bandidos 6-3 (8 inn.).

The Eagles have lost 2 extra inning games this season. Losing in 9 to the Ducks and the Oilers.

The Oilers (3-0) won their first two games on their last at bat. Walk-off wins against the Devils and the Eagles. They beat Cranberry by 6.

South Oakland opens a two game series with undefeated BIG OIL next Tuesday. Time and location tbd. We might play at historic Moore Park. That would be fun.

quack

Gameday 8: Ducks vs Devils

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (3-4)

vs

South Hills Devils (4-2)

9pm

Springview Field

Probable Starters:

Ducks: Patton

Devils: Miske

South Oakland looks to avenge Sunday’s loss to the defending champion Devils tonight in Spring Hill. This is a pretty even matchup and should be another close game. We let Sunday get away from us defensively, and didn’t get to their starter early. He’s not a guy you can let settle in. As far as I know, we have our full infield tonight. That should help. Hopefully, we have an answer for all their lefties.

This is a big game for us to get back to .500 before the Oilers series next week. We always play well at home. I like our chances at the Duck Pond.

Bad News for the Devils

Gameday 7: Ducks at Devils

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (3-3)

at

South Hills Devils (3-2)

8pm

Volunteers Field

Projected Starters:

Ducks: Blackstone (0-2)

Devils: Heinecke (0-1)

The Ducks travel to Carrick tonight to take on the defending champion Devils in a battle for sole possession of second place. This should be a close game. The winner will have the inside track on a first round bye.

We swept South Hills in the regular season last year, but they won the championship. The Devils are the favorite to win it again this year. No team has won back to back titles since we split into three divisions. We also haven’t voted a team up since Shaler sandbagged their way to a title four years ago. Bandidos, Oilers, and Devils have all remained in AA to defend their titles.

The Devils improved this off-season, adding some guys from the Express and their old home field. I’ve always liked Volunteers because there’s not as much ground to cover in center. They also drag it before every game. It’s a nice change of pace. RIP Carrick Express.

This is a big regular-season game for both teams. We start a home and home tonight, with the second game scheduled for Wednesday at the pond. After a slow start, the Ducks have put together a nice winning streak. Tonight we will go for four in a row.

Bad News for the Devils

 

Ducks Win: South Oakland 6, Bakery Square 3 (8 inn.)

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Box Score

The South Oakland Ducks of the Northside won their third straight game Sunday in Spring Hill. Billy Welsh (W, 1-0) threw 7 innings for his first win as a Duck, and James Fago struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth for his first save of the season.

The Ducks held a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, then Bakery Square tied the game on an Eric Friend, two-out, two-run double to left. John Friend led off the inning with a bunt single.

Matt Mullen led off the eighth with a single and stole second. Tom Pulice drove in what proved to be the game-winning run with a double to the right-center gap. Gwin and Brandt also drove in insurance runs in the inning.

Big missed opportunity by the Bandidos to not rebrand as the Toros, and go with these unis.

The win brings the Ducks record to 3-3. The Bandidos fall to 2-2.

South Oakland plays next against the Devils, Monday night, 8pm at Volunteers Field in Carrick.

Quack.

Gameday 5: Ducks vs Bandidos

2020 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (1-3)

vs

Bakery Square Bandidos (2-0)

9pm

Spring View Field

Projected starters:

Ducks: Patton

Bandidos: Friend

South Oakland looks to start a winning streak tonight against the resurgent Bandidos. After a thrilling extra inning win against South Side last weekend the Ducks are back in the win column and feeling confident. Tom Pulice earned his first win as Ducks manager. He’s the fifth coach to win a game for South Oakland.

Ducks managers by year:

  • Gwin: 2003-07
  • Jones: 2008-09
  • Gwin: 2010-11
  • Fago: 2012
  • Morgan: 2013
  • Gwin: 2014-19
  • Pulice: 2020

Based on this pattern, I’ll be back in 2022. The Billy Martin of the Pittsburgh NABA.

Last year the Ducks swept the Bandidos. In 2019, Bakery Square had a statistical anomaly of a season, winning like five games and suffering a bizarre defeat to a short handed Eagles team in the playoffs. But it looks like the odds may have swung back in their favor this season as the Bandidos are off to the best start in team history.

These teams have been rivals since the days of Zack King and the Mon Valley Dirty Birds, when the aforementioned King tried to fight our whole team for some reason. 2014 was a great year. That season, the Dirty Birds played at West Field before the renovation.

After a two year hiatus, the South Oakland Ducks of the North Side are returning to the North Side. We will play our home games at Spring View Field.

West Field was nice, I guess, but the borough was impossible to deal with, and the seeds/maintenance situation was ridiculous. The big dugouts were a nice change of pace, but the lights were impossible there. We tried to get a couple early season dates there this year, and after they charged me for them, they said they were cancelling the whole summer, and turned around and gave a DNL team a permit. I’m still waiting on my refund.

Tonight is a homecoming for the Ducks.

Bad News for the Bandidos

 

 

 

 

Team Awards

2019 South Oakland Ducks, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Congrats to the Devils. Their title was well earned. A lot of those guys have put serious time into the league. Hopefully the over 26 team can get one, too.

The Ducks underachieved this year as a team, in the playoffs, but we had several outstanding individual performances over the course of the season.

Comeback Player of the Year: James Fago

He literally left and came back. After three years on the Black Sox, and one season wandering the East Coast, Fago set a single season league record for saves with seven (7). After he shook the rust off, he was one of our best hitters down the stretch. He also brought his little brother with him, and Colton lead the team in strikeouts both as a pitcher and as a batter.

Rookie of the Year: Matt Muslin

I’m hoping he comes back next season, and they don’t get their shit together up north. Matt posted a .600 obp from the leadoff spot and never complained about playing out of position. We had big shoes to fill at third, and he figured out the turf and the bad hops at Springview, and played great for us.

Defensive Player of the Year: Mark Lombardi

He was our most consistent outfielder. In true gold glove fashion, he was also our best hitting outfielder and lead the team in home runs (2). He threw out several runners this season, made a couple great diving catches, and patrolled the deepest part of West Field for us this year.

Offensive Player of the Year: Derek Clark

Hit .470 and tied Tony with 7 doubles. We had a really good lineup this year, and Clark made everyone better.

Pitcher of the Year: Matt Mullen

He was our most consistent pitcher this year. He gave us a chance to win every time out, and was always positive and picked up his teammates. We played hard for him. We had a great staff and bullpen this year. I’m so disappointed we lost in two games in the tournament.

MVP: Tony Casale

He was the best player on our team this season, and should get serious consideration for league MVP, especially if Stumpf gets POY award, Tony played a great shortstop on two very tough home fields, and held our infield together and lead the team in extra base hits, and stolen bases, and hit .500. Please don’t move away, Tony.

Also of Note:

Tom Pulice is still the best catcher in AA despite an influx of talent at the position. He’s also gonna be manager next season. Godspeed, Tom.

John Zuzak earned a rotation spot with his performance against D2 in the season finale. He also showed up every week and got on base a lot for us. He made the most of his opportunities and never complained.

Thanks again, everyone for another mostly good season that ended poorly. Hopefully Tom can coach us up next year and we can win a title.

Look for fall ball updates and Columbus Tournament stuff in the coming weeks.

Quack

Pre-Playoffs Pittsburgh NABA Round-Up

2019 South Oakland Ducks, NABA, pittsburgh NABA

Ducks Regular Season Recap

Overall we had a solid year. We won and lost a few close, low-scoring games. The losses to the Eagles and D2 are frustrating, but that happens. Everyone in AA has at least one good arm who is capable of shutting down a team, and we weren’t able to overcome that a few times this year. Records aside, there aren’t any easy teams to beat this year.

Our pitching and defense were statistically the best in AA. 65 runs allowed is a good number. We set team records for single-season shutouts, saves, and runs allowed.

We usually put up more runs, but I think we faced a lot of teams number one pitchers, and we also ran into a few junk ballers who kept us off balance. Typically, we do better against fast pitching, but that’s not exactly a secret. So bring on your crafty lefties in the playoffs. Hopefully we can adjust.

We also had a few guys who took a year off last year who didn’t round into form until late in the year. I also batted eleven guys more this year than in the past, which took some at bats away from the guys at the top and the middle of the lineup. I probably cost us at least one win here, but I got everyone at least 2 at bats per game on average, which I feel is giving everyone their money’s worth while still trying to win.

16 wins is good. I’m a believer in the last ten games being the best indicator of how a team is playing, and we have won nine of them. Hopefully the time off is good for us and we don’t lose any momentum going into Saturday. D2 has a shitty record, and a bad run differential, but they beat us twice and we had a tough time against a couple of their pitchers.

Around the Pittsburgh NABA

In approximate order of news-worthyness..

Here’s a link to the Cranberry Crusaders’ website. Solid work over there. It’s much more fun to write recaps when you’re winning. I assume Andy will post something inflammatory before the playoffs start. Keep an eye out for that bulletin board material. It’s interesting to read through their posts from this year and see the tone shift from cautiously optimistic to confident. Congrats to Cranberry on a good season.

The Wolfpack literally quit this season. What a joke. West View folding for the second straight year hurt us this time, as we don’t get a team coming off a play-in game. They should be voted down to single A, and forced to add free agents to their roster to avoid folding for a third straight year.

The Bandidos and Eagles, 2017 finalists, both have a bad record. It won’t surprise me if either team goes on a run in the playoffs. They are battle tested.

The Oilers are absolutely not cheating. I swear.

Jays had a run-in with Cranberry this year, and I think they used the resulting suspensions as motivation to put together a decent season.

Grizzlies won ten straight to start the year, and have since faltered. We had a 3% chance of taking over second place after we lost to D2 in July, but after that game, we won out, and the Grizzlies went 1-5 or something. Sleeping giant though. I think most teams want to avoid them in the post-season. They have some great pitching.

The Devils are probably better than their record, which isn’t that bad to begin with. I thought they would be in Cranberry’s position now.

Up In AAA

The AAA mangers meeting might be an eventful one, as the Tropics are probably cheating. Shocking, I know. No stats entered for them all season. The only advantage that could possibly give them is a way around minimum games played if no one wants to take the time to challenge them. It creates a situation where everyone is forced to either do a lot of work or not question any of their players eligibility and probably let them play ineligible players. I don’t think the league would be worse off without them.

Our league has always erred on the side of letting players play. Whether it’s giving teams extra time to get money in, letting teams enter the league late, or putting the burden of proof on the team that is challenging player eligibility. I don’t agree with all the decisions that are made by the commish, but I’ve never questioned his integrity or his intention. The intention has always been to grow the league, and give as many people as possible the chance to play baseball. Most of the issues that arise are due to teams taking advantage of that sentiment.

I’m grateful for another regular season. Thank you to everyone who has made that possible. Hopefully we will be playing until August this year. I think we have a good shot.

 

 

Ducks Win: South Oakland 7, Bauerstown 3

2019 South Oakland Ducks, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Box Score

Tony Casale lead the way with four hits, and the back end of the Ducks rotation pitched five solid innings to help South Oakland to its fourth straight win yesterday in Shaler. Cody Quinn started and went two innings, pitching around a couple fly balls that could have been caught, and allowing one run. Ben Sorosky (W, 1-0) pitched three solid innings before James Fago converted the six-out save (7).

The Ducks took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Lombardi doubled in Casale, and Clark singled home Lombardi. Bauerstown scored in the bottom half of the inning off a double, HBP and a single.

South Oakland added two in the fifth on a walk, fielders choice and two singles. Then they added three more in the seventh on four straight hits, and an RBI double by Fago to put the game out of reach. Cody just missed going yard.

Fago’s seven saves is a single season Pittsburgh NABA record until someone tells me otherwise.

Casale for MVP.

 

The Ducks finish up the season on the road against D2, Tuesday night, 6:15 at Herschel Park.

Quack.