Ducks fall in 16th inning, 2-1, as Somerset forces deciding Game 5
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. -- The champagne stayed on hold for a second night in a row for the Ducks, who now face a championship-deciding Game 5 at 5:05 p.m. Sunday at TD Bank Ballpark.
In the longest playoff game in Atlantic League history (5 hours, 18 minutes), Angel Sanchez's bases-loaded single off Ducks reliever Derek Blacksher with one out in the bottom of the 16th inning Saturday night gave the Somerset Patriots their second straight walk-off win in extra innings, 2-1.
The Patriots, who hit five solo home runs in winning Game 3 in 10 innings, 5-4, tied the Atlantic League Championship Series at two games each. All four games have been decided by one run. In Game 5, Ducks righthander John Brownell will face Somerset righthander David Harden.
The Ducks loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 16th, but Ralph Henriquez hit a squibber in front of the plate for a force at home and Kraig Binick flied out to right.
Somerset had a great chance in the 13th. Aharon Eggleston had a one-out single and Sanchez's grounder was mishandled by Ducks shortstop Dan Lyons, who was able to get a force at second. Lefty Daniel Herrera came in to face lefthanded-hitting Corey Aldridge -- who hit three home runs in Game 3 Friday night, including the game-winner -- and Aldridge belted a shot into the rightfield corner. It appeared as if Sanchez would score the winning run, but he stumbled going around third and was caught in a rundown to end the threat.
The Ducks had a chance in the top of the 13th. Lyons walked and stole second, but Lew Ford and Josh Barfield struck out. Bryant Nelson walked and the runners moved up on a passed ball, but Bill Hall struck out.
The Patriots tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the only bad inning for Ducks starter Bobby Blevins.
Sanchez led off with a single to rightfield and Aldridge (three hits) followed with a hit-and-run single through the hole at second, sending Sanchez to third.
It looked as if Blevins would escape when he got a strikeout and a pop-up to short, but Eddy Martinez-Esteve lashed an RBI single to leftfield. Binick made a nice throw to Lyons, who nailed Aldridge at the plate with his throw to Henriquez.
The Ducks scored in the third when Henriquez reached on an error, moved to third on Binick's single and scored on Lyons' double-play grounder.
Each starter went eight innings. Blevins allowed five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Graham Taylor was just as effective for Somerset, allowing three hits, no earned runs and one walk and striking out three.
On Friday night, the Ducks were six outs away from a three-game sweep of Somerset when Yunesky Sanchez homered off Jared Lansford in the eighth to tie the score. Then Aldridge homered in the 10th.
Ryan Strieby led the Ducks in Game 4 with three hits.