Playoff Gameday 1: Ducks vs D2

2019 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (16-8)

vs

Pittsburgh D2 (8-15)

8pm

Herschel Park

South Oakland opens the playoffs against Pittsburgh D2 tonight in Elliot. The last remaining original five team, the Ducks are in search of their third title in team history. D2, I think, won the Single A title a few years back. D2 took two of three from the Ducks this season, but South Oakland won the last meeting 4-0 to clinch the 2-seed in the tournament. Hopefully this is the first of many games on the way to a title, but it’s a deep field this year, and there are no easy teams. This is probably the most evenly matched 2 vs 7 game in recent memory.

I don’t know what to expect tonight. We will probably get the kid that shut us down twice already this season. If we win today, we’re guaranteed to at least extend the season a week. A loss would set up a win or go home match tomorrow night against the loser of the Jays Grizzlies game. Pitching wise are built for a deep playoff run, but D2 has a lot of good arms too. This will be a close game tonight. We are the home team but playing at D2’s field due to West Field being used for AAU tournaments or something. We have a veteran team, and I think we can draw on that experience tonight.

Bad news for D2

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Ducks Win: South Oakland 4, D2 0

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn

Box score

John Zuzak (W, 1-0) threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in his first career start to lead the Ducks to a 4-0 victory in Elliot last night. Zuzak was also 2-for-2 at the plate. Tom Pulice drove in the game winning run with a single in the first inning. Maldonado, Lombardi and Gwin were hit by D2 pitchers. The shutout was South Oakland’s fourth of the season. The Ducks (16-8) finished the season with the fewest runs allowed (65) in AA, and have won nine of their last ten games. D2 falls to 8-14 with the loss.

The Ducks will play D2 in the first round of the playoffs this Saturday.

 

Gameday 23: Ducks at Grizzlies

Uncategorized

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (14-8)

at

Bauerstown Grizzlies (14-7)

3pm

Bauerstown Field #4

 

South Oakland has a chance to clinch second place with a win over Bauerstown today in Shaler. Both teams have played a condensed schedule over the last few days. It should be a close matchup between two good teams.

Ducks Weekend Recap:

On Friday, three Ducks pitchers combined to shut out the Oilers, 1-0 with a great performance by Andy Nichols (W, 1-0) throwing four shutout innings after Colton Fago left with arm soreness. Tom Pulice drove in the winning run on a bases loaded sac fly to left in the fifth, and James Fago recorded the save (6). We had a few missed opportunities on offense in this one.

On Saturday, the Ducks beat the Jays 11-2. South Oakland scored eight runs in the first inning, lead by Mark Lobardi’s second home run of the season. Randy Patton pitched a complete game for the win (5-3).

Cranberry all but clinched the division on Saturday when they swept Bauerstown in a double header in Cranberry. Congrats to them. Those two Grizzlies losses mean we can jump them in the standings with a win.

The Ducks have won seven of eight heading into today’s game with Bauerstown. Hopefully we’re getting hot at the right time and can ride this wave into the post season. We’re pitching by committee today, but we should have the arms to get through it.

Bad news for the Grizzlies

Gameday 21: Ducks at BIG OIL

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (12-8)

at

Hebrew Oilers (13-7)

7pm

Mellon Park

South Oakland looks to sweep the season series against defending champion BIG OIL tonight in East Liberty. The Ducks and Oilers both have an outside shot at overtaking the Grizzlies (14-5), and theoretically Cranberry (13-2) could also collapse. It should be a good matchup in the latest chapter of the Ducks/Oilers rivalry.

With the WOLFPACK’s forthcoming dissolution imminent, the Oilers and Jays have to be neck and neck for most hated team in Double A. We will see the Jays on Saturday on the field with no mound, provided last night’s rain didn’t destroy it.

The odds of winning the division or getting the two seed are not in our favor. We still want a home game in the first round, and a better draw in he tournament, so our last four games are important. 

We want to go into the post season playing well. A win tonight would at least prevent the Oilers from getting the two seed, and that should be plenty of motivation. 

Bad News for BIG OIL

Ducks Win: South Oakland 4, Bauerstown 1

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

Mark Lombardi drove in three runs and Matt Mullen (W, 2-0) scattered four hits over six innings to lead the Ducks past the Grizzlies last night in Munhall.

Mullen worked out of a jam in the first after a hit batter, a single, and a delayed steal put runners on second and third with two outs. Mullen got their five hitter to groundout and end the inning.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth. MVP candidate Tony Casale moved to third on Derek Clark’s single and scored on Lombardi’s sacrifice fly.

Mullen worked around a single and two hit batters in the fifth with the help of Tom Pulice who threw out a guy trying to steal second.

The Ducks left the bases loaded in the fifth.

Lombardi threw out a guy trying to stretch a single to a double in the top of the sixth, but Bauerstown clawed a run across with a single and a series of ground outs.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Ducks scored three to put the game out of reach. Casale singled to start the inning, and went first to third on Pulice’s well placed single up the middle two batters later. Maldonado, running for Pulice, took second with the infield playing up. Lombardi drove in two runs with a single to left, and took second on the throw home. Mullen drove in Lombardi for the Duck’s fourth run.

James Fago recorded his franchise record fifth save of the season.

  • Big win against a good team
  • Grizzlies employed the no doubles defense for most of the game, leading to a few 300 foot singles
  • Casale’s numbers this year are MVP worthy. He’s at least in the conversation. That guy from Cranberry and the Grizzlies guy are also good.
  • Ran out of baseballs right at the end of our last home game. Perfect timing.

South Oakland’s next game is Friday night against the Oilers, 7pm at Mellon Park

Gameday 19. Ducks vs Grizzlies

2019 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side

vs

Bauerstown Grizzlies

8pm

West Field

The Ducks look to right the ship when they take on the Grizzlies tonight in Munhall.

We need a win to secure a spot in the top six and avoid the play-in games. I think our magic number is 2. The Eagles and D2 both have 12 losses, and we are at 11 wins if we count our never rescheduled game from April against West View as a win. Both those teams have the tie-breaker over us.

Somehow we’ve lost 4 games combined to two six-win teams. Add that to a few other close losses this year, and I can’t tell if we’re lucky to have ten wins, or if we should have fifteen right now. I don’t think we’ve really hit well yet, but we’re running out of time for our luck to change.

We finish with five games against four teams ahead of us in the standings, and one more against D2 who we can’t seem to beat this season. The Grizzlies won like twelve in a row at one point, and with Cranberry’s magical season, everyone else has basically been playing for third place all year unless someone collapses. But we want to be playing well heading into the postseason, and tonight against a tough team will be a good gage to see where we are at. I like our chances at home.

Bad news for the Grizzlies

 

Gameday 17: Ducks vs Bandidos

2019 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (9-7)

vs

Bakery Square Bandidos (3-13)

8pm

West Field

After a forfeit win over West View on Sunday, the Ducks looks to extend their winning streak to four tonight against the better-than-their-record-indicates Bandidos.

In a celebration of South Oakland’s seventeenth season in the Pittsburgh NABA, and the rich history of our league, the Ducks will host throwback night tonight in Munhall. Players will wear their oldest NABA jerseys in what will be a collage of awesomeness out on the turf.

The 2019 Ducks feature players who have played for the Hurricanes, Black Sox, Owlz, Knights, Orioles, Rakers, Gray Bats, Militia, Bulldogs, Bombers, (Steel City when they were still a fed league team), Maulers, Oilers and the Express. Possibly more. Also, many of the Bandidos have played on the Ducks in recent tournaments in Columbus, and made solid contributions to the franchise on and off the field.

Nine of the teams mentioned earlier are defunct. Only the Bulldogs and Oilers remain. I think TJ Morgan might be the last Hurricane in the league. A franchise that burned so brightly for a few years it was destined to destroy itself with its own power.

Running a team is hard. Keeping a men’s league team going for the better part of two decades is probably a symptom of a mild psychological disorder. Last year the Black Sox folded and this year the Express dropped out, and I think that’s all the Brookline off-shoots in the league. The Black Sox spawned like five different teams.

I repeat a lot of these stories on the blog, but I think it’s important to have a perspective on the league’s history, and now with the old website dying, we’ve lost most of the stats from the last 16+ years. Baseball more than any other sport, for better and worse, is about numbers and nostalgia and tradition. Our stats don’t really matter in real life, but they are part of the story of the league and a record of a past summer. Stories of ringers and sandbaggers and fist fights and cheaters. For the Ducks, aside from maybe four seasons, it’s a story of being one piece away from a championship. As we added that missing piece, others left, or the rest of the league took a bigger step forward then we did. Hopefully we cam put it together and make a run in the playoffs this year before I hand over the managerial reigns.

Sorry for the digression.

We can’t overlook the Bandidos. They are clearly reeling, but it’s hard to sweep anyone in double A. Bakery Square is bound to snap out of it and start winning at some point. Let’s make sure it’s not tonight.

Bad News for the Bandidos

 

Ducks Win: South Oakland 4, South Hills 3

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

South Oakland swept the season series with the Devils behind Mullen’s two-run triple last night in Munhall.

The Ducks scored in the first on Derek Clark’s RBI single, and then Matt Mullen followed singles by Sorosky and Morgan with a triple to right. Matt Muslin singled home Mullen two batters later to give the Ducks a four run lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Randy Patton (W,4-2) scattered six hits through five innings, allowing one run before the bullpen took over and held off a late Devils rally. Patton also picked off a runner at first.

  • The Ducks made two errors in the game, but both were followed by inning ending double plays
  • South Oakland turned a 5-2-3 double play to get out of a jam, and then in the third, a 6-3 double play to get out of a first and third situation
  • Tom Pulice picked off a runner at third
  • Several good plays by Maldonado at second who left with a lower body injury in the sixth
  • Sorosky is five for his last five, and probably leads the team in avg. now
  • Big win to get the tie breaker with South Hills

South Oakland’s next game is Sunday 8pm vs West View until we hear otherwise.

Quack.

 

Gameday 15: Ducks vs Devils

2019 South Oakland Ducks

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

vs

South Hills Devils (9-8)

8pm

West Field

The Ducks and the Devils will try to separate from the middle of the pack in a matchup full of playoff implications, tonight in Munhall. South Hills looks to avenge an early season 8-1 loss to the Ducks. Tonight’s game figures to be a much closer contest.

A win tonight, and our upcoming forfeit victory against West View and suddenly we could find ourselves on a three game winning streak. So it’d be a 2-for-1 tonight if we can beat the Devils at home.

Bad news for South Hills

 

Ducks Win: South Oakland 4, Biscuits 1

2019 South Oakland Ducks

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side defeated the Bandidos by a score of 4-1 on Biscuits Day, Sunday morning in East Liberty. South Oakland started the game with 8 players, and Bakery Square was unable to capitalize.

Ducks starter Colton Fago (W, 2-2) pitched four strong innings; Ben Sorosky struck out 4 in 1 2/3 innings, and James Fago recorded the four-out save (3).

The game was played under protest due to a potential misinterpretation of a rule by the plate ump. In question was whether two base runners making contact on the base paths counts as a runner passing the baserunner ahead of him. It came up because of a wild play late in the game.

In the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, Casale doubled up the hill in center. The Bandidos centerfielder almost made the catch and then made a great relay to the plate, but the ball was dropped after the first tag was made. Initially both runners were called out, but the umps conferred and got the call right, which would have been nice last game.

I was walking back from the bathroom when this happened, and watched from the parking lot in center field. I think the protest is moot at this point.  It was a really good throw and some not super base running/coaching, which has been a trend lately. We’ve veered from aggressive and smart to reckless and stupid on a few occasions.

Another weird footnote this season. The time we were almost victimized by an amazing 8-4-2 double play. That ball would have rolled forever at West Field. Or maybe Friend would have been playing deeper at West Field and it would have been caught. Who knows?

Here’s where I digress into a mid-season summary of the AA season, using Cranberry and the Bandidos as primary points of reference since we just played them both.

 

The Bandidos (2-11) are really struggling this season, while first place Cranberry (11-1) has been the surprise of AA. Everyone else is jumbled in the middle.

The Ducks (7-7) have lost to Cranberry twice by one run in games that came down to the last at bat. We beat the Bandidos twice, 6-4 and 4-1, two well-played close games. Cranberry beat Bakery Square 8-7 in their lone matchup this season.

Has Cranberry just gotten every bounce this year while the Bandidos have been on the wrong side of every bounce? Will there be hard core correction to the mean in the second half for both teams? Who knows. Probably not. Now we’re getting into intangibles and confidence and that stuff, while overrated in general, is certainly contagious.

I’m not sure what this means except AA is really competitive this season, and a lot of this comes down to a few plays. Random lineup decisions that come back to hurt teams, or when a couple starters are out and there’s a hole in the defense, and maybe you skate by because you have your best pitcher going or maybe you save him for the next night and that game is rained out. Cranberry has done an awesome job at minimizing bad luck. Bakery Square hasn’t, and we’ve been average at it. Weddings, work schedules, vacations, benders, rain, setting the pitching rotation and then more rain, etc. So much shit that’s unrelated to baseball impacts teams, or can, and I think dealing with it is both the most frustrating and rewarding part of managing. But there’s still so much luck involved. When we win with our B team, and guys take advantage of opportunities, it’s great. When we lose, every decision was wrong.

So is the difference between Cranberry and Bakery Square one run or 9.5 games?

So I don’t know if we’re unlucky or what, but I know we have pitching, finally, and we haven’t been able to put together enough big innings.

My conclusion: Everyone in AA has a shot to make a run in the playoffs. Except for West View.

The Ducks next game is 8pm Wednesday night at West Field vs the Devils.

Thanks to the Friends for the use of their bases for my daughter’s softball game, which she won.