DUCKS WIN AGAIN: SOUTH OAKLAND 5, D2 1

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The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side defeated a well-balanced D2 squad by the score of 5-1 in front of a packed bleacher of enthusiastic fans on a mild late Spring evening at Spring View Field, improving the Ducks record to 7-7 on the season. It was the second straight win of this home-and-home series across back-to-back nights against D2. It also marks four straight wins for this veteran club who seemingly have found our stride.

Brandon Blackstone took the mound for the Ducks and immediately recorded his quickest inning of the night. The Ducks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first when Stef Blackstone led off with a walk and moved to second on a groundout by TJ Morgan who nearly beat out the throw (TJ’s hustle was rewarded with several hard ciders after the game). Stef moved to third on yet another groundout this time time by Tom Pulice which set up Mark Lombardi to do what he does best which is make stuff happen. Lombardi looped a single to right, scoring Stef. 1-0 Ducks heading into the second.

The second inning netted no runs for either side. Brandon cruised again in the top half and the Ducks’ Jason White hit into a double play to end the bottom-half of the inning. White’s mustache appeared to be safe but his foot was a fraction of a second behind the throw.

The D2’s got on the board in the top of the third inning with a homerun ball that probably smashed into the hood of some busted-up and abandoned multi-colored Pontiac Fiero. Google Maps shows this ball likely landed somewhere along Mutzig Street which sounds like a made-up street but I promise you it is there. Mutzig St has no houses and leads to a dead end so that ball will live there for eternity because there is no way any of us are going there to retrieve it.

It is also a 12-minute drive from home plate to where the donger landed on Mutzig St.

The Ducks quickly quacked back in the bottom of the third as TJ Morgan drove in Stef Blackstone from first base on a hit and run with a deep drive to left-center. 2-1 Ducks.

In the top of the 4th Brandon Blackstone stranded a runner at third on a sick 1-2 pitch for a strikeout. In the bottom half, D2’s pitcher dominated and struck out the side. He pitched well and has a long beard. In the top of the 5th Blackstone flirted with danger once again by loading the bases but again stranded all runners. The bottom half of the 5th saw Ben Gwin lead off with a crispy grounder to second base which couldn’t be handled by the D2 second baseman. After a strikeout, Mullen grounded into a fielder’s choice when Gwin was thrown out at second. Then Mullen stole second base, followed by a bloop hit to left by Stef Blackstone which scored a speedy Mullen. TJ Morgan walked which brought Mullen back onto the diamond to pinch run. He then took second and Stef took third on a wild pitch. Tom Pulice couldn’t convert but the Ducks had already knocked in 1 run that inning. 3-1 Ducks. Note: prior to the game, Gwin played goalie for his dek hockey team (whose players seemingly range in age from 13 to 71 years old) and won 2-1 in overtime to claim the championship. Congrats to Gwin for standing on his head on the dek and then beating out infield singles in the dirt.

Gwin’s fundamentals are fun and mental.

Blackstone rolled in the top of the sixth and got some help on a hit-ball that deflected off his mitt and into a double play. The Ducks tallied two more runs in the bottom of the sixth off a new D2 pitcher. Lombardi walked and Kenny had a fantastic at-bat which resulted in a two-strike single. D-Will walked to load the bases. Ben Doak then hit a bloop single to left which dropped in and allowed Lombardi to score. Gwin hit into a weird double-play situation just behind second base which left both runners in no-man’s land. His at-bat did plate Kenny, which pushed the Ducks ahead for good at 5-1.

Stef Blackstone stepped in to relieve his brother Brandon in the 7th. Stef threw some smoke, but the first batter hit a spray hit to shallow right field where Lombardi raced in to make a diving catch to record the out. It was a dope display of athleticism. If that ball were to drop, it feels like the inning may have got away from us. Alas, it was not to be for D2. After a Spring Hill Hop over second baseman Brandon Blackstone (who was subbed in at second for Stef Blackstone who was subbed in to pitch for Brandon Blackstone), D2 had runners on first and second.

Blackstone watches on as Blackstone delivers a pitch. “Blackstone and Blackstone” may sound like attorneys at law but they are not; however, being from Sheraden, they likely have had legal representation at some point in their lives.

The next batter had a tipped third strike caught by Pulice for the second out.

If you zoom in close enough, you can actually see just how miserable Pulice is.

The final batter of the night hit a soft dribbler to third where Kenny Rayl made a slick scoop and toss. Ballgame: Ducks 5, D2 1.

Kenny awaits the dribbler; Kenny hates dribblers.

SOFT TOSS:

  1. The Ducks took the back-to-back games from D2 by a score of 8-3.
  2. These two teams square off one more time this regular season back at the Pond in early July, with South Oakland already claiming the series win in the best-of-three.
  3. D2 likely feels as if they had some chances where they didn’t cash in; two fairly matched squads.
  4. The fans were great. There were women, wives, babies, dogs, coolers filled with ice and beer, siblings, girlfriends and grandparents. All on a pleasant evening in June. Gosh it felt like a southern night and we were all back in 1986 casted in a music video for one of those great “Alabama” songs, not like the modern country music videos with the over-the-pants-handjob visuals and recreational fingerbanging references. This felt like good-ol’ wholesome, American fun.

The Ducks will enjoy a week off then look to keep the winning streak alive while staying back at the Pond to host the Senators next Wednesday.

Quack.

Guest Blogger: @donnieducko @lonzelle

Ducks Win: South Oakland 6, North Park 4 (9 inn.)

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

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

Quack.

Gameday 12: Ducks at Senators

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (4-7)

at

North Park Senators (2-9)

3pm

Whitaker Field

The Ducks look to win the season series against the Senators today in Homestead. South Oakland has won two of its last three. A win today would put the team one game behind Pittsburgh D2 before a home and home series next week. With three games in five days, the Ducks chances to finish in the top 5 will become clearer this week.

Other games this weekend include a big series between the Eagles and Grizzlies, while Cranberry plays East Pittsburgh and Bakery Square on back to back days. It is the height of vacation season. Roster depth and flexibility will be paramount throughout June and heading into 4th of July weekend.

Image via Defector

The Senators are looking at this game as one they can sneak from a four-win team. We can’t take anything for granted. They stole one from Cranberry last week, and played us close for four innings before we pulled away last time. This is a game we have to win despite playing without several starters.

We’re short-handed, but we have enough pitching. I feel confident with Patton on the mound today.

Bad news for the Senators

Ducks Win: South Oakland 14, South Hills 13

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

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.

Quack.

Gameday 10: Ducks vs. Grizzlies

2021 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (2-6)

vs

Bauerstown Grizzlies (9-1)

9pm

SpringView Field

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.

Record: 1-5

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.

Record: 3-3

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.

Bad News for the Grizzlies

Gameday 4: Ducks vs Cranberry

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (2-1)

vs

Cranberry (2-0-1)

9pm

Springview Field

After winning a nine-inning thriller vs South Hills on Monday, the Ducks can move into a tie for second with a win against Cranberry.

Devils Recap

Ducks 6, Devils 5 (9 inn.)

Bos Score

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.

Cranberry

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.

Bad news for Cranberry

Gameday: 3 Ducks at Devils

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

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

at

South Hills Devils (1-4)

8:30pm

Herschel Park

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.

Bad news for the Devils

Gameday 3: Ducks vs Grizzlies

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

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

vs

Bauerstown Grizzlies (5-0)

9pm

Springview Field

Weather permitting, the Ducks look to knock off the undefeated Grizzlies tonight in Spring Hill. Bauerstown has averaged ten runs a game while allowing three during its current winning streak. Also during the streak, the Grizzlies have comeback twice when trailing after six innings against the Bandidos and Devils respectively. It seems they have benefitted from their year off.

The Ducks send Billy Welsh (0-1) to the mound tonight to get the team back on track after a tough loss to the Eagles on Sunday.

Both Bauerstown teams are winning all their games this year, as the single A Turtles are in first place with a 5-0 record.

Realignment Watch 2021

This year we will keep track of how the Senators and BIG OIL fare after moving up a division.

The Senators are 0-2, losing both games by a combined 35-5, including a 20-0 opening day defeat at the hands of the Eagles.

The Oilers have not played a game yet.

The Grizzlies eliminated South Oakland from playoff contention the past two seasons. This is always a tough matchup for us, but I like our chances at home with Billy pitching in cold weather.

Bad news for the Grizzlies

Ducks Lose: South Oakland 2, South Side 3

2021 South Oakland Ducks, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Box Score

The Ducks (1-1) lost a heartbreaker in the West End this afternoon, dropping a close game to the Eagles (2-1) at Herschel Park.

The Eagles scored a run in the first off a HBP, and a double. Ducks starter, Randy Patton (0-0) settled down, scattering four more hits over five innings. The Eagles added their second run in the fifth when two Ducks collided in shallow center, leading to a two base error. The Eagles runner would later score on a single.

The Eagles starter was pulled after two effective innings due to arm trouble, but their relief pitcher was effective. He allowed two hits and worked out of trouble in the fifth thanks to a line out double play with the bases loaded.

The Ducks trailed 2-0 going into the seventh but tied the game on a walk, two hits and an RBI groundout to the right side that plated two runs.

The Eagles took advantage of another two-base, Ducks error when their leadoff batter advanced to second after an errant throw on a squibber to the infield. Their next batter hit a ground ball through the right side to win the game.

It’s tough to waste a good pitching performance, but at least we battled back to tie in the seventh. We had a few hard outs with guys on base. Overall, we played well but couldn’t hit their junk baller. This has been the recipe to beat us for a few years now. The Eagles haven’t looked this good since the days of Noonan, and I expect them to be in the mix this year.

The Ducks next game is Wednesday, 9pm vs Bauerstown at the Duck Pond.

The Ghost of Doug Ryba: Ducks 15, Piranhas 0 (3 inn.)

2021 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball
pittsburgh naba, south oakland ducks, east pittsburgh piranhas,
Pittsburgh NABA legend, Dough Ryba, pictured above, was a member of the original Piranhas in 2003. Sponsored By Amica

South Oakland (1-0) defeated the expansion Piranhas (0-1) by a score of 15-0 in 3 innings last night in Spring Hill.

Ducks pitcher Brandon Blackstone (W, 1-0) pitched a complete game no-hitter. Two Piranhas reached via an error and a walk respectively.

The Ducks sent twelve batters to the plate in the first inning and scored six runs. They added five runs in the second, and four in the third, capped by TJ Morgan’s walk off, two-run single to right.

The commissioner stopped by, and gave us baseballs.

The win marks the ducks first shutout win since 2019, and the fourth no-hitter (Dickman (2), Tessier) in team history, be it abbreviated.

East Pittsburgh could have used Ryba’s bat in this one. Sounds like they were missing some guys, and should improve as the season goes on.

After blowing a seven run, third inning lead in Cranberry last opener, this was a much improved start.

We hit really well, and did a good job of staying patient at the plate. I don’t have the book in front of me, but if I recall correctly, Pulice, Rayl, and Morgan all had multi hit games. Pulice, Rayl, and Gwin hit doubles. Eleven different Ducks reached base at least once. I’ll link the box score when it’s updated, and make any corrections.

South Oakland will face the revamped South Side Eagles at Herschel Park, Sunday at 12 pm

Quack.