Ducks starter John Brownell slammed his glove on the dirt in front of first base. Emotion is not something that is typically in his makeup. Win or lose, the Ducks longest tenured pitcher rarely shows any flair on or off the field, a model of both composure and consistency.
But the playoffs can make even the most stoic hurler lose their cool and, after Brownell lost his footing trying to catch an errant throw on a potential double play in the third inning of the Ducks 7-1 Game 1 loss to the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division Championship Series at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip Wednesday night, the righty could keep it in no more.
The play led to the Patriots second run of a five-run third inning, one that featured two errors and put the Ducks in an 1-0 hole in the best-of-five series.
Brownell’s frustration built earlier in the inning after Patriots rightfielder Justin Trapp reached on a bunt single after a defensive cross-up left first base uncovered. What could have been a manageable one-on, one-out situation soon snowballed into five runs. Lew Ford capped the inning by dropping a fly ball in leftfield that allowed David Vidal and Joe Maloney to score.
The Patriots added two more runs in the sixth, forcing Brownell’s exit. The righty parked on the bench after allowing seven runs (four earned) on 13 hits, struck out four and walked one in 5 1⁄3 innings.
The Ducks, who lost nine of their last 11 regular season games, showed no signs of overcoming the woes that ailed them in the final month.
Offensively, they were unable to capitalize on early opportunities, something that could have changed the perspective of the game. They stranded two runners in the first after Angelo Songco struck out to end the inning and left another two on base in the second after Giovanny Alfonzo grounded out to end that frame.
Somerset starter Mark Hamburger allowed one run on eight hits in seven innings and earned the win. Keith Hessler got the save.
Patchogue-native Anthony Vega’s single in the fourth drove in Songco, who avoided catcher Yovan Gonzalez’s tag to cut the deficit to 5-1. Vega left the Ducks in mid-August to complete his computer engineering degree at the University of Arizona but, thanks to some understanding professors, has rejoined the team for the playoffs.