Playoff Gameday 3: #5 Ducks at #3 Eagles

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

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

at

South Side Eagles

8:30PM

Moon Park

After defeating the Carrick Express 7-2 last Sunday, the Ducks travel to Moon Park tonight to take on the third-seeded Eagles for a chance to advance to the loser’s bracket semifinals.

South Oakland won the season series 2-0, but they also swept the Oilers this season, who knocked off the Ducks in the opening round of the playoffs.

I think the Eagles were missing some guys the first couple times we played them. This should be a tough game between two good teams.

Win or go home. This is an exciting time of year. Hopefully our run will continue with a win tonight.

Bad News for the Eagles

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Ducks Win. South Oakland 7, Jays 3

2018 South Oakland Ducks

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (1-3) beat the Sheraden Jays (1-1) 7-3 in Munhall Wednesday night. Tony Casale hit a leadoff triple, and the Ducks scored five runs in the first inning, and the Jays never threatened the early lead.

 

Randy Patten threw five strong innings allowing 2 runs on five hits, with 5Ks, Mike Longman recorded the 2-inning save allowing one unearned run.

Tom Pulice threw out a guy at second by like ten feet.

Ben Gwin recorded 2, HBP, putting him in the team lead.

South Oakland added one in the fourth and one in the sixth.

I don’t know what it is about teams with non-player coaches, but it’s terrible to play against them. They typically have fans and random people in the dugout that run their mouths. Good for them, I guess. I can’t imagine playing in an adult league and having to deal with some twenty year old’s dad bitching at me. It’s bullshit. I can’t imagine what their game against West View was like.

South Oakland’s next game is Sunday, 12pm at Hershel Park vs the South Side Eagles.

Gameday 3: Ducks at Cranberry

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (0-2)

at

Cranberry Crusaders (1-1)

5pm

Veteran’s Park of Cranberry (North Boundary Park)

South Oakland looks to win its first game of the season against the Crusaders this afternoon in Cranberry.

Below is an old scorebook page from a game two years ago vs. Cranberry. I remember we played this game at McGee Field because the mound at Spring Hill had been vandalized the night before. TJ had his car broken into, I think. We won on a walk-off hit by Culp in a ridiculous, 12-11 game.

Koshzow hit a ground rule double into the pool in left. We were down 11-10 going into the bottom of the seventh. They had their ace throwing and we knocked him around.

This season we pretty much only had Pat on the mound after Grahme blew out his shoulder. Nichols started this game, I think Brandt’s friend went 2 innings, and then Sorosky finished off the last two.

Alex Riley got on base three times this game in the revenge match against his former squad, and committed an error in RF.

Bad News for the Crusaders

 

 

 

Gameday 2: Ducks vs Express

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (0-1)

vs

Carrick Express (1-1)

9pm

West Field

South Oakland looks to get back on track after a tough loss to West View last week. Carrick is good. We are short a few guys tonight, so some players who might not start normally will get some at bats against one of the better pitchers we will face this season.

Below is an old score book page from 2010.

This was a Ducks vs Maulers game. The Maulers played in single A that season, and would eventually become the Express. South Oakland won 6-2. We lost to them earlier in the season.

Vernacchio’s last at bat was a 2-RBI double.

Kress, Kopy, Cannon, are all former Black Sox and Express players. Gruendle is still on the Express.

This must have been early in the season before all the Waynesburg guys joined the team that season and I nearly destroyed the franchise, which I’ve written enough about at this point.

Casale had a day. Duffy left to be a scientist halfway through this season. Guthrie would get the win on the mound in the deciding game of our second championship.

Bad News for the Express

Team Awards

2017 South Oakland Ducks, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

The Bandidos won the title, after having split from the AAA Dirty Birds of 2016. Now they will move up again. Maybe they will just fold and split again instead? They’ve done an awful lot of branding to go that route. But maybe they’ll become the Astros. Winter meetings should be interesting. They are deserving champions and from what I can tell a bunch of solid guys. The top seeded Eagles lost after a pretty dominant regular season. The Oilers and Ducks were both upset early. 11th seeded D2 was in the semifinals. I wish they would have won it, and gone from A to AAA in two years.

Those first couple Wednesdays when we don’t have a game are always tough. This was a frustrating year for the format to go to single elimination. We had too much time off, I guess, and lost to a hot Express team who almost upset the Bandidos in the semis.

Next year, I’m going to reschedule a rainout for the week prior to the playoffs so we don’t have this problem again.

After another fun season, we once again fell short. We should return most of the same guys next year. Hopefully we can add an arm or two. It was frustrating to have Ben Sorosky and Randy step up, only to have guys who pitched well for us last year not show up to a lot of games for various reasons.

Here are the team awards.

Pitcher of the year: Ben Sorosky 

After not throwing for a few seasons, he came back and gave us solid innings every Wednesday. He was a great teammate and good clubhouse presence. Also had many sweet sacrifice bunts.

Defensive player of the year: Tom Pulice

Tony is probably the best defensive shortstop in the league, but I can’t give him this award every season, plus he was hurt for a while.

Tom came in and was arguably our MVP. Teams didn’t run on us this year, and he handled the pitching staff well.

Co-Offensive players of the year: TJ Morgan and Mark Lombardi

Check their stats. They both raked. We had a good of a 3-7 in the order as we ever had.

MVP: DJ Dover

Dover had possibly the most impressive single season I’ve seen as a Duck. He broke the single season HR record, lead the league in RBI and, and got pitched around a lot towards the end of the year. Bakery Square is not upset they didn’t have to face him in the playoffs. Dover also played short when Casale was out and provided serviceable defense there. Not lost in all this is that he drove from Erie every game and made all but two games when we had guys who wouldn’t show up for seemingly no reason. Also ran BP before every game for those who could make it.

For next year, we need pitching. We offer excellent run support and a home field with shitty lights where it’s hard to hit.

I think next year, we should plan on entering a tournament because it will be fun to take the show on the road and maybe bring some ringers along.

I want to thank all the fans who came out and everyone else in the league for making this year happen. Joe Graff for running the league and dealing with all the bullshit. Thanks to everyone who read the blog.

Finally, I want to thank my teammates for giving me another year to play ball. For a singles hitting hustle guy to play on a team full of former college players, albeit old ones, is pretty great. I’m happy I can contribute. As long as I can run out there in center, I’ll keep managing this team.

Quack

 

Season Over: Express 7, Ducks 5

2017 South Oakland Ducks

We made one error, and made some phenomenal plays in the field, especially Jon Moore at third base and a couple nice double play turns. In the end we still allowed 7 runs, and couldn’t hit our way out of it. True to form, we had the go-ahead run at the plate when we ran out of gas.

Patton pitched a solid 5 innings, allowing 4 runs. We were up 3-1 going into the fifth, when the Express scored 3. Sorosky got nicked for 3 in the sixth on an error, a few bleeders and then a double down the line on a hanging changeup. Moore pitched a perfect seventh.

The Express hit well. The last time we had this pitching matchup between these two teams, we won 9-1. We were up 3-1 most of the game, but couldn’t break it open after a three-run first and Heineke (sp) settled in for Carrick. We couldn’t handle his splitter.

Five games over .500 was one of our best regular season records as a team. Since 2014, this team has been a lot of fun, and it’s always shitty when it ends short of a title, because we’ve been right there all but one of the last four years. This one hurts wore than any of the last few seasons.

We haven’t have a true ace who could take over a game and strike out fifteen guys since Fago left when the team split. All our pitchers are solid ground ball pitchers, but sometimes ground balls get through. Hats off to Carrick. As I’ve said before, they are definitely better than their regular season record indicates. They have the pitching depth to get through a series if they keep hitting. We got a shitty draw, and an underrated, overachieving team in our elimination game and some of that is just bad luck.

So we have Carrick vs. Bandidos on one side, and upstart D2 vs. the Eagles on the other side of the bracket. Not what most would have expected.

This was an emotional loss for myself, and a couple guys who have been around the league for a while. This might have been TJ Morgan’s last game, pending a potential move east, and if it was his last game, there will be a proper send off on the blog, and our first number retirement of a post-Fago era Duck.

Speaking of which, maybe the Black Sox will finally fold, and we can bring a few former Ducks back to the flock next season. Double A is pretty fun, guys, if you’re reading. Probably more fun than going 5-16, which is no knock on anyone.

I really thought we had a good shot at it this season, and for it to end after one playoff game stings. Next year it will be the same core guys who put up 156 runs in 23 games, with the same resilience, and hopefully just a few games better in the regular season so we can avoid the one and done situation.

I’ll have a brief season recap at some point and team awards in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Playoff Gameday 1: Ducks vs Express

2017 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, pittsburgh NABA

(3) South Oakland Ducks of the North Side

vs

(6) Carrick Express

3pm

Moon Park

South Oakland looks to advance to the semifinals with a win over Carrick today in Moon. The winner will play the winner of the Cranberry / Bandidos game at 5pm in game one of the semifinals.

Their game was supposed to be played on Saturday, but was probably rained out. Not sure how that rescheduling effort is gonna work out.

So far the #11 seed Devils have upset the #4 Oilers, the Express eliminated West View with a commanding 11-1 win, and Cranberry knocked out Wexford in a 3-1 thriller. On the other side of the bracket, Bauerstown and D2 were rained out.

This season has been long and full of rain, and weird games. I think we mostly played to our potential this year. A few frustrating losses.

Every off season, I talk with the coaching staff about what we need to do to get better, and how we can take the next step to win a championship while still keeping the core group together and not just cutting off the bottom third of our roster.

For a lot of years, it’s felt like I would make moves and add guys based on what it would’ve taken to win in the previous season, only to see the other teams make bigger moves, and we’ve mostly been one or two guys short.

Our lineup is fine, we have ten guys who hit over .300 this year, 13 with an OBP over .400. Dover is probably the league MVP this year, and any other year it would likely be Lombardi with the numbers he’s put up.

Pitching will be what decides this post season. Will he have the guys there to eat up the innings and throw strikes? Will we make the routine plays on defense, and not run into outs on the base paths?

Carrick is going to have momentum coming into this game and will be playing with a lot of confidence. It would be great to get out to an early lead.

All I can ask for as a player and a manager going into a season is a chance to be in every game, and to have a shot at winning a title. We are right there, we’ve been waiting for the playoffs all season, and we have a great opportunity to advance to the semis. This season has been a lot of fun, we have a great group of guys, and I am not ready for it to end.

Bad News for the Express

 

Gameday 23: Ducks at Eagles

2017 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, pittsburgh NABA

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side

vs.

South Side Eagles

12pm

Herschel Park

South Oakland looks to win their third straight game today vs. South Side.

This game features the two best hitting teams in the league. This is also a matchup of potential MVP candidates as Dover (24) and Noonan (21) will vie for the RBI title. I know counting stats are somewhat meaningless, but both of those guys are on Hack Wilson-esque paces. Ducks outfielder Mark Lombardi is also in the MVP conversation along with a bunch of other Eagles. I need to start padding our stats more. We also should have league awards.

Here’s a link to a site some guy on Cranberry created. 

It has all the playoff probabilities for each team. I think it’s lagging behind the league site in games played, but it’s pretty great.

This season went fast, like it always does. Let’s play hard and enjoy this one before the playoffs get here and I start chain smoking and pacing in the dugout. Our record against the top four teams isn’t great (2-3-1), and we don’t want to get swept by these guys. A win today would do us some good going into the post-season, even if we are pretty much locked in to the 3 seed.

Bad News for the Eagles

 

A Look at the Playoff Bracket and a Holiday Weekend Long-read

2017 South Oakland Ducks

Not a huge difference between finishing 2nd and 3rd. However, the team that wins the regular season has a buy into the semis.

Based on the standings above and a quick look at the schedules, I think only 4 teams control their own destiny at this point. Bandidos, Eagles, Ducks, Oilers. Everyone else needs help, except Cranberry, South Hills and D2 who can’t win the division.

We have five games left in eleven days, plus a floater vs. the Wolfpack that their coach won’t get back to me about rescheduling. Not sure how that one’s gonna work out.

This Wednesday’s game is one of the biggest regular season games in recent memory. Probably not since the Black Sox rivalry days has this much hung in the balance.

If we win it, we can basically punch our ticket to at least the 3rd seed. The Oilers would have to finish 6-2, including a win over us to catch us, plus with a win, we can still catch Bakery Square without help.

If we lose, we need the Eagles and Bandidos to both have what would amount to minor collapses given they current records, and we would face an Oilers team on Friday that would have a chance to pull within a half game and probably that lefty again, and then the Devils on Saturday with a potentially dicey pitching situation on our hands for the third game in four days.

We haven’t won a division ever.

Here is a look at some non-first place finishes:

In 2003, we finished fifth out of six teams and won the title.

in 2004, we finished somewhere around .500 and lost to the Black Sox in the semis

Those years are foggy so I can’t really give a complete account. Though, I think I tallied it at one point.

We were then mediocre in 2005 and Swetz got hit in the sack in the playoffs and ended his pitching career. Earlier that season, Ducks legend Ian Dickman blew out his arm. We didn’t have a shortstop for the next 3 years, really.

We were bad in 2006 and 2007.

Resurgent in 2008 with an 11-9 finish including a playoff clinching win over the Ben Sorosky led Rakers. I went 0-for-3 vs. 55 in that game.

We went 16-8 in 2009, finishing 3rd, 1 game behind Brookline and six games behind Ken Cool’s team that went 20-1 and ended up losing to the TJ Morgan-led Hurricanes.

In 2010, we finished 18-6 and won the championship, but the black sox finished 16-5 and beat us twice and won the regular season.

That year the Ben Sorosky led Militia beat the Fighting’ TJ Morgans in the quarterfinals, before losing to us in the semis. The recap of that Hurricane’s Militia game is the most read blog post in the history of this blog.

We went 19-5 in 2011, with 3 losses to eventual champion Elliot who won our division.

We went 17-6 in 2014 and finished second the the North American Lions > Dirty Birds > Bandidos > Reprise

2015 and 2016 we didn’t finish over .500, but we made a great playoff run last year.

This turned into a history post at some point.

I’m realizing now, I’m already old enough to get nostalgic about my early adult league days (maybe more so than my high school and legion days). I should really be writing something more important than this, but it’s too late. Looking back through fifteen years, brings me back to a lot of the shit I had going on at various points in my life, and how great it has been to have baseball to balance that. Also that it will be great to have a little less bullshit going on at some point, so that baseball can feel less like the cause of some of the bullshit and less like another responsibility. And at times it does feel like that instead of just fun.

I’ve tried many times to find a way to work the Ducks and our league into an essay or a story of some kind for an actual publication, but it’s tough. It always feels like I’m relying too much on the corny Field of Dreams nostalgia, that doesn’t quite get at the pure joy there is to be had, even at 36, from being able to continue to play this game, and how that joy juxtaposed with the struggles in real life can lead to something work reading.

I obviously push and have often exceeded the limits of an acceptable amount of time for a single parent trying to establish a literary career while doing glorified temp work, to put into playing and managing and blogging about adult league baseball. But the more bullshit I have going on with me, the more I need to be able to set aside a few hours to just worry about a game and my teammates and my team, an at-bat.  ]And I think there are guys on our team, and in our league and other’s like it who feel the same way.

I can see it in some of my teammates faces how badly they need to leave shit behind them before they walk down those busted steps into the Duck pond. I just don’t know how to connect that idea to a bigger audience or use it to speak to a bigger truth in a manner that hasn’t already been done.

It is great to write about baseball in this setting, and try to shake off the rust when I haven’t written in a while, and at least form sentences in a low-pressure setting while providing a service for the few of you who read this, whether you hate it or love it. To give back in some way to the league that’s allowed me to play for fifteen years using this medium is great. Even though no one really blogs anymore, I don’t think.

I’m not sure how long I can keep running this team, but if I ever step down it will be with a heavy heart, and a replacement lined up who knows a bunch of pitchers, but will give the current Ducks right of first refusal for roster spots. I also am not going to step down until the Back Sox fold. Which judging by their record, could be at any moment. That’s also a story for another blog post.

Going back I also realized the Eagles have been around since 2004, which is pretty long. I give them a lot of credit for sticking around.

Anyway, right now we sit at 11-5-2, and we are as solid a team as any in Double A. We don’t quit. I don’t think anyone wants to face us with their second or third starter in the playoffs when we have our starting lineup. Except Cranberry.

We haven’t seen the best of the Eagles, but they haven’t seen our best either. On Wednesday, if we give them our best we can win. We can beat anybody. Then it’s back to our day jobs and the shit we left at the top of the busted steps.

quack.

 

Derailed. Ducks 9, Express 1

2017 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Brian Strom went 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI, and Randy Patton mowed through five innings to lead the South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (10-5-1) past the Express (7-8) last night in Carrick.

After the Ducks went down in order to start the first, the Express took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the second, Brian Strom hit a bases loaded double followed by Jon Moore’s RBI ground out to take a 3-1 lead.

The Ducks added a run in the fourth when Chuck Zuzak beat out a double play ball for an RBI fielder’s choice.

In the fifth, the Ducks broke it open. Casale singled and scored on Gwin’s double to right. Lombardi walked, Morgan beat out an infield single, before Pulice hit a scorcher that some guy threw away, plating two more runs.

7-1 Ducks after five.

South Oakland added a run in the sixth off Sorosky’s RBI fielder’s choice, and another run in the seventh when Lombardi doubled home Dover.

Then their pitcher appeared to throw at Lonnie for some reason. If this was 2009, it probably would have resulted in a shit show.

Chuck Zuzak pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh innings, striking out 3 batters.

We haven’t lost two in a row this season

Big team win after dropping last week’s game vs. last place Cranberry. Everyone contributed. We beat a great pitcher.

Bloomfield residents Strom, Gwin and Moore went a combined 7-for-10 with two doubles and four RBI

Other stats of note:

Lombardi: 3-3, BB, 2B, RBI, 3R

Mike Brandt: 0-0, HBP

Lonnie Petril: 0-1, HBP

The Ducks next game is Wednesday, at Spring Hill vs. Bauerstown. Time tbd, in case we finish the suspended game first.

quack