South Oakland looks to even their semifinal series against the Grizzlies tonight at the Duck Pond. The Ducks played the Grizzlies to a 2-2 tie through five innings in game one before the bullpen allowed five runs in the bottom of the sixth. South Oakland stranded several runners early.
The Grizzlies have not slowed down after one of the best regular seasons, record-wise, in recent memory. The Ducks will need timely hitting and another good starting pitching performance if they want to avoid elimination.
Winning this game will take all we’ve got. I like our chances at home, playing for our season.
South Oakland split a weekend set with the Bandidos, winning Friday’s game 5-2, and dropping Saturdays game 2-1. On the season, the Bandidos won the net runs by 1, and took two of three from the Ducks. They also won the negotiating rights of disgruntled, pitcher/outfielder Greg Friend who is set to become a restricted free agent after the season.
“Maybe after next year,” a source in the Ducks front office said. “We wish him the best.”
“Is this real?” Friend asked. “I wish I’d known about this before the game.”
Bandidos management was not available for comment.
Friend made a great catch in Friday’s game and converted the save on Sunday.
South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (12-10)
Pittsburgh D2 (7-12-1)
Over the weekend, the Ducks clinched a non-losing record with their twelfth win. After a rough start, the team has rounded into form winning 9 of 12 down the stretch.
A win tonight would clinch the fourth seed and ensure a home game in the first round of the playoffs. We’d also stay mathematically alive for the three seed, depending on the outcome of the Cranberry (11-11-1) and South Side (13-9) game. A Ducks loss tonight keeps the six seed in play.
We want to stay hot heading into the meat grinder of an opening round next weekend and what looks to be an inevitable rematch with the new look South Hills Devils.
D2 has been a tough matchup for us historically. This one could go either way as both teams empty their bullpens, but we have a slight edge playing at home. Our record at the Duck Pond has been great this year.
Brandon Blackstone (W, 6-1) scattered 5 hits and walked 2 over six innings to lead the Ducks to their eleventh win of the season. South Oakland jumped ahead thanks to a five-run second inning. TJ Morgan drove in three runs with a single off the wall. Ben Doak hit what looked like a home run into the overhanging branches in right, but settled for a double. Mark Lombardi had two hits and two RBI for South Oakland. Stef Blackstone faced 4 batters in the seventh for the save (2).
The win is the Ducks first over Cranberry since 2018, snapping an eight (?) game losing streak that included multiple extra inning games and some heart breaking loses. Let this be the start of a new streak.
South Oakland has matched its win total (11) from last season with four games to play:
Two vs the Bandidos are on the schedule with Sunday’s start time up in the air and Friday’s start time moved up 8pm.
The D2 game is tentatively scheduled for Monday night in Manchester but is subject to change pending a field upgrade.
The Piranhas have not yet confirmed a time and place for our makeup game with them.
We can finish as high as third and as low as sixth.
The Ducks play next on Friday, 8pm at Mellon Park vs the Bandidos.
Ducks Starting pitcher Randy Patton (W, 3-1) threw four strong innings, and Tom Pulice drove in three runs to lead South Oakland to the win yesterday in Spring Hill.
The game was close until the bottom of the fourth. The Grizzlies led 4-2 before the Ducks sent ten players to the plate without recording an out. South Oakland scored nine in the fourth behind a three-run double by Tom Pulice. They added two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Brandon Blackstone pitched two scoreless innings in relief.
The Grizzlies clinched first place with a 13-0 win over the Eagles in the first half of the split double header yesterday. They ran out of gas in this one, and saved arms for Tuesday.
We were playing without most of our starting infield, and four starters. Tuesday’s game should be a good one against a rested Grizzlies squad with hopefully most of our starters. We need to take wins any way we can get them down the stretch, and we played well in this one.
Ben Sorosky: 3-for-4, BB, 2 RBI
Hayden Hoffman: 2-for-4, 2 RBI
Matt Mullen: 3-for-4, RBI
South Oakland improves to 10-8 with the win.
The Ducks next game is Tuesday, 8pm at Springview Field vs Bauerstown.
South Oakland opens up a two game series with Bauerstown today in a rare late afternoon game in Spring Hill. The Grizzlies are playing a split doubleheader today. they play the Eagles at 12pm at Herschel Park before barnstorming their way across two rivers to play the Ducks on the North Side. I give them a lot of credit for making the effort to get the game in.
Around the League
Standings as of 7/10
Bauerstown can clinch first place with a win or a Bandidos loss.
Cranberry has a double header against Bakery Square today.
The Devils have the easiest remaining schedule with four against the bottom two teams in the division.
The Eagles finish with Bauerstown, Cranberry and two against D2.
We have a brutal schedule down the stretch. Starting on Tuesday, we have five games in six days (we will play the Piranhas on Thursday the 15th) with the D2 game still to reschedule. If D2 gets scheduled for Monday the 19th, that would be six games in seven days.
Individually, each game is winnable. Winning four of seven will keep us in the top half of the standings.
The last time we played Bauerstown, the Grizzlies won on a walk-off sacrifice fly. I like our chances in a close game at home.
South Oakland goes for the season sweep of D2 tonight in Spring Hill. The Ducks won against the Eagles last week. They hope to stay hot down the stretch and challenge for the third seed in the playoffs. D2 lost to Bauerstown last night, and is likely headed for the sixth seed and a play in game.
Injury update: Ducks ace, Billy Welsh suffered an upper body injury over the weekend, and may miss the rest of the season. The Ducks will lean on veteran pitchers Brandon Blackstone and Randy Patton down the stretch, and for a relatively untested bullpen to step up in Welsh’s absence.
The Ducks and D2 have played two great games this year, and tonight figures to be no different. I like our chances in a close game at home.
South Oakland abolished the filibuster, and held off a late obstructionist push by the Senators, winning a 6-4 thriller in extras yesterday in Homestead.
Ducks starter Randy Patton left with a 3-2 lead in the fifth. The Senators tied the game in the fifth and the seventh, but could not take the lead. The Ducks went ahead for good on a two-out, two run single by Gwin in the ninth. Brandon Blackstone got the win in relief, and recorded his first hit as a Duck.
Cody Quinn, TJ Morgan, Mike Brandt, and Kenny Rayl hit doubles.
Morgan is gunning for another batting title.
We were short handed, but our pitching staff did a great job.
The bullpen not only pitched well, but took advantage of getting some rare at bats.
I may be getting the innings wrong. It was hot. The Senators battled.
We really need guys to show up this week vs D2. These two games are huge. They are right in front of us in the standings.
The Ducks next game is Tuesday vs D2. 8:30pm at Herschel Park
The Ducks look to start their first winning streak of the season tonight against their longtime nemesis Bakery Square. The former Mon Valley Dirty Birds/North American Lions are emerging as the team to beat not named the Grizzlies after sweeping the Eagles last weekend.
If the Bandidos win this game, they retain the rights to disgruntled outfielder and relief pitcher Greg Friend. The Ducks have to win the season series to win G. Friend’s contract per the deal made with Ducks officials and Bakery Square co-managers John and Eric Friend.
“This is ridiculous,” Greg Friend said. “I haven’t been this disrespected by management since we were kids. Do I even have a contract?”
John and Eric Friend did not respond to multiple email requests.
The original North American Lions team finished the 2014 regular season in first place and lost to the WOLFPACK in the finals. That was the year of the ill-fated double booking of Beedle Park that lead to the Ducks elimination in the semis by West View.
Lions pitcher and NABA legend, Zach King (sic) left to form the Mon Valley Dirty Birds with the Friends. I’m not sure if the Friends were on the Lions. Let’s assume they were.
The Dirty Birds won a championship, moved up to AAA, beat the Cherokee in the playoffs, then disbanded. The Bandidos rose from their ashes. The Bandidos won a championship and have consistently finished among the top three teams in their relatively brief existence.
The Lions are still in single A, and have 28 guys on their roster. They are in second place. Anyway, I forgot the Lions were part of the Bandidos lineage. Also a good transition into:
Realignment Watch 2021
This year we will keep track of how the Senators and BIG OIL fare after moving up a division.
The Oilers were no-hit earlier this week by former Sheraden Jays and South Hills Devils pitcher Luke Gapinski. After a strong start, BIG OIL has lost four straight.
Runs allowed: 58
Run differential: -30
The Senators lost to Luke’s most recent former team 11-1 on Monday, but have been playing better as of late.
Runs allowed: 96
Run differential: -72
The Bandidos have a great, weird history, and are solid tournament teammates. But tonight we need a win against a team that is two games up on us in the standings. We’re running out of time to make up ground. I like our chances at home.
South Oakland (4-8) came back from an early 2-1 deficit behind an 8-run fifth inning, and then held off a late rally by the Devils (3-8) to win a wild one in Spring Hill yesterday. Ducks starter Randy Patton (W, 2-1) pitched four strong innings before turning it over to the bullpen. The bullpen had mixed results.
The game was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the fifth. The umpires were bad, but just typically bad up to that point. Then it escalated. They missed some calls for the Devils pitcher in the fifth, and the Ducks took advantage when he had to put it down the middle. TJ Morgan hit one off the fence in right that was a foot from going out. We hit a couple doubles and wound up putting eight runs on the board. The plate ump started arguing back with the Devils.
The ump told us we didn’t deserve better umpires. This guy was calling pitches when they were halfway to the plate. I’ve never seen that before. He was out of position all game, and let the game get out of hand.
South Oakland led 12-4 after 5. Our reliever had one out and one on, and the plate ump missed called strike threes on consecutive batters that would have ended the inning. Instead those guys walked. Then there were more bad calls and we walked in two runs. There was a double that cleared the bases, then a 2-run home run. The Devils put up 7 on three hits in the inning.
The Ducks added two in the bottom of the inning to take a three-run lead into the seventh.
Then the ump made more bad calls, tried to issue a warning, and he threatened to leave. He said he should give us $5 back and quit. He told one guy that if he wanted good umpires it would cost $300. One great line was, “Why don’t you get some grandma to stand behind the fence and call balls and strikes.”
It was ridiculous.
The Devils scored two runs in the seventh before Hoffman came in to close the game for South Oakland, stranding the tying run on second.
The Devils new uniforms are pretty nice
If our record was better, Stef Blackstone would be the hands down AA MVP this year. If we finish strong, he should win it.
TJ Morgan is having an incredible season at the plate
If there was ever a loss that could give a team momentum, it was yesterday’s for the Devils. They battled.
It would have been a devastating loss for us after we finally put together a big inning against a quality starting pitcher. This was a big win for us.
The umps really spoiled what was an important game in the standing for both teams. I don’t understand why some umps what to make the games about them. The other extreme is they are totally checked out sometimes and won’t even make fair/foul calls. Just be as consistent as possible, and try to get in position to make the right calls. That’s all anyone can ask for.
South Oakland plays next on Wednesday night, 9pm at Springview Field vs the Bandidos.
Billy Welsh (W, 1-1) allowed 5 hits and struck out 16 in nine innings of work. Welsh out dueled veteran Brandon Bouchard (L, 1-1) from South Hills who was lifted after surrendering 5 runs in the eighth.
South Oakland had eleven hits but couldn’t break the 1-1 tie until Mike Brandt singled home two in the ninth, followed by an RBI infield hit by Gwin that scored two runs. Lombardi added his second RBI of the game to put the Ducks ahead by five, and they would need the insurance runs. The Devils scored four in the ninth with the help of a couple walks and HBPs around singles by Rodi and Rush.
This game should have ended 2-1 in regulation. Ducks utility player/relief pitcher Ben Sorosky was safe by two steps at home on what should have ben an RBI fielders choice, but was called out to the surprise of everyone.
Here’s a link to the Cranberry blog. It would be great if their 8-3 extra innings win from last year wasn’t still in the “last game” section. Here’s some new art for future blogs, Andy:
Cranberry is historically a terrible matchup for us. Even in the pre-Stumpf era when they didn’t really have a short stop, and Andy’s dad was manager, we struggled to hit their pitching. We do better against pitchers who try to overpower us. This isn’t news. We need to find a way to beat them. Two years ago, they finished in first, and we were a half game behind them thanks to two one-run losses. Last year, they swept us, and if we had split that series, we might have avoided the Oilers in the semi-finals. If we had just split those games, all of which were one-run or extra inning games, we could have had a much easier draw in the playoffs.
Tonight should be a good test for both teams, if the last two years are any indication, it will come down to the last inning.
I like our chances in a tight game at home tonight.