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.
Ducks End Regular Season on High Note. Face Devils in First Round
Back in 2003 the Piranhas had this guy Gustavo Lopez (behind Boley, holding bat), and used to just kill us. He hit like seven home runs in that first year, and hit well over .500. We played out in Ambridge on a tiny field past Economy Park on the other side of rt. 65 across from Red Cap Dry Cleaners. During the regular season, Lopez hit towering home runs into the little league field beyond ours. We would walk him late in the game even if it put the tying run on base. He was cocky, and proved to be one of the leagues first great villains. He’s probably a good guy. I don’t really know him.
In 2003, we had a so-so regular season. We were mostly all happy to still be baseball again. The morning time slot 45 minutes away from Oakland did us no favors. Almost all of us were hungover, still, drunk or smoking weed to calm our nerves on the long ride to the games. We finished fourth out of five teams, and made a run in the post season to our first championship over the Piranhas.
Lopez was a non-factor in the championship. Playing at John Herb the rainbow arced home runs he hit at Ambridge turned to fly outs. When we made the move to wood bats, he hit .176. I have no idea what he’s doing now.
South Oakland clinched the four seed behind a solid spot start from Ben Doak (W, 1-0), and clutch hitting from Mark Lombardi Wednesday night in Spring Hill. With the win, South Oakland took the season series from the feisty Piranhas who upset them earlier in the year. The Ducks will be the home team tonight at Moore Park in an elimination game against the Devils.
Playoff Gameday 1: Ducks vs Devils
South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (13-11)
South Hills Devils (13-11)
Both South Hills and South Oakland started slow this year, lost a dominant pitcher, and still put together winning seasons. The Ducks and Devils both sit at 13-11. The Ducks own the tie breaker thanks to winning a tough season series in what many believe has become the premier rivalry of AA Pittsburgh NABA baseball. There’s not much to say here that would do this one justice. It’s been a great season, and it’s a shame one of these two teams has to go home early. Hopefully the Moore Park magic of seasons past is on our side.
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.
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.
The Ducks look to get back on track after a walk-off loss to the Piranhas ended their winning streak last week. Bauerstown is looking for a wire-to-wire first place finish. The Grizzlies magic number is 2 to clinch the one seed. They have put together a great regular season.
We are probably getting rained out, but if we don’t, it should be a good game at the Duck Pond tonight. Bauerstown won the first meeting on a walk off sac fly. We were missing a bunch of guys that game. Tonight we should have everyone.
South Oakland looks to extend its winning streak to six games against an improved Piranhas team tonight in Brookline. The Ducks won 15-0 against East Pittsburgh in the season opener. Tonight’s game should be a tougher test for the Ducks. The Piranhas beat second place Cranberry 3-2 in extra innings last week behind a solid pitching performance by Matt Gayda and Dustin Grabowski.
In 2003, the Piranhas rotation was lead by Lesher and Heckman. Heckman was an ass, but an effective hard throwing lefty. He was passed over for the start in the finals against the Ducks in favor of that guy from Waynesburg that we knocked around. He famously clashed with management in subsequent years.
The Ducks and Piranhas had a solid rivalry in the inaugural NABA season. Craig Boley and Ben Gwin have not met in the playoffs since the league’s first year despite combining for close to 500 games played. The Ducks faded in the 2004 post season and had a few down years. By the time they were competitive again in 2008, the Warriors were at their peak but playing in the other division (At the time, we were split into Monongahela and Allegheny). I may have some details wrong. The death of the old website makes it hard to fact check.
The Ducks were on their way up, and the Warriors would start their decline. The leagues would split into A and AA, and the last chance for the franchises to meet in the post season ended when the Warriors forfeited in 2018 before a first round matchup with South Oakland.
Ducks 10, Senators 0
Matt Mullen (W, 1-0) threw a complete game, two-hit shutout as the Ducks rolled to their fifth straight win. South Oakland scored early and often in this one. TJ Morgan and Stef Blackstone are on a tear, leading a resurgent, opportunistic offense. With a few mid season acquisitions, and better attendance, South Oakland is playing like the team many considered a sleeper pick to make a run to the finals in the preseason.
Realignment Watch 2021
This year we will keep track of how the Senators and BIG OIL fare after moving up a division.
BIG OIL has won two of its last three, and is holding its own in the middle of the AAA pack.
Runs against: 73
Run differential: -29
The Senators have shown flashes this season, playing in some tight games and upsetting the top two teams in Cranberry and Bauerstown.
Runs against: 119
Run differential: -92
So far it seems the Oilers are acclimating better to a higher level of play, but the Senators have yet to play two-win East Pittsburgh. Both the Oilers and Senators could play spoiler in the playoffs of their respective divisions.
There’s nothing like a Thursday night at Moore Park. A win tonight puts us tied for third. NABA great Ben Sorosky is scheduled to start. The crafty veteran should keep us in the game until we can turn it over to the bullpen.
South Oakland looks to right the ship tonight in Spring Hill against the first place Grizzlies. The forecast is calling for rain and playoff hockey tonight.
With over a third of the season in the books, the Ducks have not met expectations. There is no way around it. However the team can still make a run at the top five, and has the pitching depth to win a series if they can get that far. Hopefully attendance improves. Right now the Ducks need to win one game against a team they lost to on the last at-bat over the weekend. It should be another exciting matchup.
Realignment Watch 2021
This year we will keep track of how the Senators and BIG OIL fare after moving up a division.
Big news last week as the Senators slow-balled the Grizzlies to death in a 3-2 victory to hand Bauerstown it’s first loss.
Runs allowed: 65
Run differential: -52
The Hebrew Oilers are adapting well to life in AAA behind solid starting pitching and defense. BIG OIL has wins against 2019 champion Ohio Valley, 2018 champion West End, and the 2016 champion Bulldogs.
Runs allowed: 25
Run differential: -5
The East Pittsburgh Piranhas also won their first game of the season against a depleted Bakery Square team.
I will take this as a victory for Trafford over Shady Side. Bakery Square is probably the worst place in the state. Since I am friends with many Bandidos, I will assume that taking the Bk Sq title is an ironic commentary against gentrification. Also, that’s where there field is.
Still, they could have rebranded as the East Liberty Angels and used these amazing uniforms:
Greg Friend commented: “We went from being the Mon Valley Dirty Birds to repping Bakery Square, which isn’t even a real place. For the record, I was against the name change, but management never listens to me.”
We’re listening, Greg.
The league is wide open this year, but we need to start winning games. The vibe in the clubhouse remains mostly positive. It’s going to be a long summer if we don’t think we have a run in us. It’s never a bad day to start a winning streak, but we have to focus on one game.
I like our chances at home tonight. We may even have our middle infielders.
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.
After a rainy week, Ducks look to get back over .500 with a win against struggling rival South Hills. The Devils have had some bad luck early this year, but they are still a solid, experienced team that can score runs. Eventually the back luck will swing the other way, they have too many good players. Last year we split the season series and the run differential was even. It will be a close one tonight.
We need to keep wining games to stay in the top half of the standings. With the monsoon last week, there will be a backlog of games later in the year. We need to position ourselves for the stretch run before we start playing four games in ten days in June. We have the bullpen rested and most of our starters tonight.