The Ducks can’t get swept in the Atlantic League Championship Series again, right?
But that’s the question that persists after the Ducks fell to the York Revolution, 5-4, Thursday night in Game 2 of the best-of-five series in front of 3,069 fans at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. The Ducks, who were swept by Sugar Land last year, need to win three straight in York this weekend if they are to avoid coming up empty yet again.
More urgently, they need to win Friday night to avoid being swept for the second consecutive season.
“We feel good,” catcher Alex Burg said. “We went on a streak where we won 12 in a row [during the regular season]. Winning three in a row at somebody else’s park is no big deal for us. We’ve done it before. These losses were tough, but we have a lot of older guys in this clubhouse and guys that know how to win and a lot of guys that aren’t scared of big moments. We’re going to be just fine.”
Said manager Kevin Baez: “We can’t control Saturday or Sunday, we can only control [Friday].”
Lew Ford struck out with the tying run on first to end the game.
Ducks starter Jake Fisher showed flashes of brilliance early, but faltered late and took the loss. Fisher allowed five runs and nine hits in 7 1⁄3 innings. He struck out six and walked no one. York reliever Grant Sides earned his second win of the series.
After yielding a leadoff home run to Alonzo Harris, Fisher settled in and showed much of the dominant stuff that made him so unhittable in his first playoff start. He retired 12 in a row until the fifth inning, when Ducks shortstop Dan Lyons failed to grab a hotshot liner at short.
“Burg made a good call on that pitch, I just left it up and over the plate,” Fisher said. “It was supposed to be in. It ran over the middle and he capitalized on it. After that, it locked me in a little bit more to make my pitches and hit my spots and, the results went my way.”
The Ducks tied the score at 1 in the bottom of the first when York third baseman Chase Simpson threw a Ford grounder away and Elmer Reyes scored from first.
Burg poked a solo home run just inside the rightfield foul pole in the fourth inning to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead. Harris’ sac fly in the sixth tied the score at 2 and back-to-back two-out hits gave York a 3-2 lead in the seventh. Travis Witherspoon’s single drove in Isaias Tejeda, who doubled to start the mini-rally.
The Ducks tied the score at 3 in the bottom of the seventh, but squandered a chance to take the lead and possibly add even more. Delta Cleary Jr’s bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out, but after strikeouts by Anthony Vega and Dan Lyons, only a slow rolling ground ball by Giovanny Alfonzo that drove in pinch-runner Jordan Hinshaw could yield positive results. Reyes struck out swinging to keep the score tied.
“To only get one, it came back to bite us,” Baez said. “Hopefully, you put up a crooked number there, maybe a hit to break it open. Give credit to them, they made pitches. We just couldn’t put the bat on the ball.”
Fisher gave the lead right back to York in the eighth. Jared Mitchell’s single drove in Simpson, who singled to left to start the inning. Fisher left the game after allowing a single to Rubi Silva. Islip-native Rob Rogers relieved him and allowed Mitchell to score on a soft Telvin Nash groundout that gave the Revolution a 5-3 lead.
The Ducks cut the York lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Burg’s fielder’s choice drove in Marc Krauss. Burg was originally called out on the play, ending the inning. But after a lengthy umpire conference, the call was reversed, the run was allowed and the inning continued.
“We were in the ballgames,” Fisher said. “It wasn’t like we handed them the games. They were both tough losses, but there’s nothing we can do now. We have our backs against the wall. We have to come out, play the games, have fun, fly around, and see if we can get the results to go our way for the next couple games.”