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Ducks' rally in ninth falls short in Game 1 of Atlantic League Championship Series

Long Island Ducks' Chris Shaw drills a home

Long Island Ducks' Chris Shaw drills a home run over the right field wall against the Blue Crabs in game 1 of the northern championship series, Monday, October 11, 2021 in Central Islip. Credit: George A Faella

It was strange, it was long, and after 3 hours and 52 minutes, it wasn’t quite enough.

The Ducks fell to the Lexington Legends, 7-5, in Game 1 of the best-of-five Atlantic League Championship Series on Friday night at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. The Ducks will host Game 2 at 1:35 p.m. Saturday (moved up from 6:35 because of the forecast of bad weather).

"They outplayed us. That’s the bottom line," manager Wally Backman said. "It could have been different, but it wasn’t."

Trailing 7-4, the Ducks put runners on first and third with none out in the ninth, and after Deibinson Romero drew a two-out walk to drive in Boog Powell, they had the winning run on base. But Chris Shaw flied out to the warning track in right-centerfield to end the game.

"It had a chance," Shaw said. ". . . Unfortunately, it went into [centerfielder Cole Sturgeon’s] glove. He made a great play. We’re just going to get ready to play tomorrow and erase tonight."

The Ducks fell behind 1-0 in the North Division Championship Series earlier this week and won the final two games to advance. They’ll need another comeback to capture a second straight Atlantic League title and fifth in franchise history.

After Lexington scored a run in each of the first two innings, the Ducks scored four in the third. Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly cut the Lexington lead to 2-1. Lew Ford then dribbled an 0-and-2 pitch back to Lexington starter Eli Garcia, who double-clutched and threw it past first base, leading to two more runs, a 3-2 Ducks lead and Ford standing on third after another throwing error by rightfielder Tillman Pugh. One batter later, L.J. Mazzilli’s single gave the Ducks a 4-2 lead.

Ducks starter Brendan Feldmann walked two batters in the fourth and was pulled after loading the bases with one out. Anderson DeLeon bounced his first pitch past catcher Hector Sanchez, allowing Juan Silverio to score. Four pitches later, former Red Brandon Phillips’ sacrifice fly tied the score at 4.

Lexington scored two runs in the sixth to reclaim the lead. Courtney Hawkins’ slow-rolling grounder up the middle made it into centerfield and gave the Legends a 5-4 lead. When Roberto Baldoquin struck out for the second out, Sanchez appeared to believe the inning was over and threw the ball away as he walked toward the dugout. The runners were awarded two bases, Hawkins scored and Lexington again led by two.

Said Backman, "That’s just a little brain cramp that Hector had."

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