LANCASTER, Pa. -- The comeback never arrived Wednesday night for the Ducks, who fell behind early and never recovered, losing, 5-1, to the Lancaster Barnstormers in Game 1 of the Atlantic League Championship Series.
The best-of-five series, continues Thursday night at Lancaster's Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Former Yankee Randy Keisler worked in and out of trouble early for the Ducks, stranding runners on third in each of the first three innings and allowing one unearned run through five innings. In the sixth Lancaster shortstop Kody Kirkland hit a solo homer to right to make it 2-0.
Keisler's early extra work came back to haunt the Ducks in the seventh, when he exited with the bases empty and two outs after throwing 113 pitches.
Jeremy Hill relieved and allowed a single, a walk and a three-run home run to Ryan Harvey to make it 5-1.
"Keisler had a couple of hard innings," Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. "His pitch count was up. The righty [Tommy Everidge] was coming up. I thought it was the right move. Obviously it backfired. You try to do the right thing. If I leave in the lefty, who knows? He gives up a hit and all of a sudden it's 'Why didn't I take him out?' It's one of those things."
In the top of the seventh, the Ducks nearly staged their own rally off Lancaster's bullpen, when likely Atlantic League pitcher of the year Dwayne Pollok exited for Beau Vaughan with none on and two outs. Vaughan did not retire a batter, surrendering a double to Dan Lyons and an RBI single to Kraig Binick, before giving way to Josh Dew. Joash Brodin then singled, before Ray Navarrete popped up to end the threat.
Unbeaten lefthander Matt Way takes the hill for the Ducks in Game 2 against former major leaguer John Halama. Way has allowed one run in 221/3 innings since joining the Ducks in mid-September.
"In a series like this you want to get one of the two games," Keisler said. "You don't want to leave here 0-2. I like our chances [Thursday night]. Way's been lights out. He's got to go against Mr. Halama, who's a good pitcher. We're just gonna have to battle it out, get a lead and hold it."