There will be no more magic at Bethpage Ballpark this season.
Less than a week after winning the final three games to capture the best-of-five Liberty Division Championship Series, the Ducks were swept by the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League Championship Series.
The Ducks’ 5-3 loss to Sugar Land in Game 3 in front of 3,393 cold and damp fans at Bethpage Ballpark on Friday night marked the final chapter in the topsy-turvy 2016 season.
The Ducks led 1-0 and 3-2 before allowing three runs in the seventh. “It doesn’t feel good,” said Lew Ford, who went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI. “I haven’t really thought about it too much previously, but this one hurt.”
Ford, 40, said he “most likely” will return to the Ducks next season.
Dan Lyons was the only Duck with two hits. Sugar Land starter Sean Gallagher earned the win and Juan Martinez earned series MVP honors.
Sugar Land, which won its first Atlantic League championship in its fifth season, became the first team in league history (19 seasons) to go 6-0 in the playoffs.
Nick Struck, who saved the Ducks’ season with a masterful performance in the third game of the Liberty Division series last week, teetered on the brink of possible disaster all night but was able to take a lead into the seventh inning. He allowed five runs, 10 hits and a walk in 6 2⁄3 innings, striking out five.
The Ducks’ Fehlandt Lentini led off the first inning with a walk, advanced to third on Lyons’ single and stole home when Sugar Land catcher Wilfredo Rod riguez threw to second on a double steal.
Lance Zawadzki flared a two-out, two-run double to shallow leftfield in the fourth to give Sugar Land a 2-1 lead. Struck struck out Rodriguez to keep the Ducks’ deficit at one.
Ford’s double to deep centerfield in the fifth drove in Lentini and tied the score at 2-2. Ford scored on a throwing error by Martinez on Cody Puckett’s infield single.
A three-run seventh marked Struck’s downfall. Martinez’s one-out single to centerfield drove in Rodriguez and tied the score at 3-3. One batter later, Josh Prince hit a grounder up the middle that drove in Jeff Dominguez and Martinez and gave the Skeeters a 5-3 lead.
“I just got a little tired,” Struck said. “I left a few pitches up. You have to give it to [Sugar Land]. They battled their butts off.”