YORK, Pennsylvania — When they look back on it — maybe next week, or next month, or even the early part of next year — the Ducks will remember the 2017 Atlantic League Championship Series as a frustrating three days of what-ifs and who knows. It could be argued that they should have won all three games, or at the very least one of them, on their way to being swept in the league’s final series for the second consecutive season.
But, that’s not how playoff baseball works. Sometimes, the ball just doesn’t find any holes when you need it to or gloves when you want it to and there’s nothing to be done about it.
That’s certainly what happened here, as the Ducks missed countless opportunities yet again and fell to the York Revolution 3-2 in Game 3 at PeoplesBank Park on Friday night.
“It stings really bad. It’s not a good feeling,” said Ducks manager Kevin Baez. “It’s tough to get to this point. Two years in a row, we couldn’t finish the job. It’s gut-wrenching.
“I’m proud of my guys for fighting after no one even gave us a chance to make the playoffs.”
Telvin Nash’s two-run home run in the eighth inning off Matt Marsh gave York the lead and ultimately the Atlantic League Championship.
Ducks first baseman Marc Krauss hit a ball to the rightfield fence to leadoff the ninth, only to have it caught. Krauss yanked his helmet off as he rounded first. It was that kind of night. Really, it was that kind of series.
Delta Cleary Jr. grounded out with pinch runner Jordan Hinshaw on second to end the season.
But, for the third consecutive night, a failure to get that one big hit to blow the game open doomed the Ducks.
Take the third inning.
After leading off the inning with a single, Patchogue-native Anthony Vega stole second, took third on a throwing error by Revolution catcher Isaias Tejeda and scored on a Giovanny Alfonzo single that popped out of rightfielder Jared Mitchell’s glove.
But that was it for that inning. Elmer Reyes hit into a double play and Lew Ford popped up to leave only one run to show for a two-on, no-out situation. The lack of the big hit was frustrating to Baez.
“You just hope it doesn’t keep happening,” said Baez. “Just like when we get two outs pitching and we can’t put the third out away. It’s a frustrating feeling.”
“I think we had a lot of big hits in the series, to tie the game and take the lead, and then they did the same thing,” said Ford. “We weren’t always coming up empty every time. Tonight, they’re were things we could have done better. But that’s the way it goes.”
John Brownell did his best to extend the Ducks season, but just didn’t give them enough length when they needed it most. Brownell allowed one run and five hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.
Brownell worked around a one-out double in the second, a leadoff walk in the third, and a leadoff double in the fourth to keep the Revolution off the board.
The Ducks scored their second run in the fifth when Vega scored on a wild pitch.
The Revolution got to Brownell in the sixth when Tejeda’s single drove in Rubi Silva. Brownell loaded the bases before being removed from the game. Islip-native Rob Rogers popped up Ryan Dent to end the inning with the Ducks ahead 2-1.
“The games were close, all one-run games and they’re coming out on top,” said Ford. “I think those games could have gone either way. It just didn’t go our way this series.”