Sunday, October 7, 2012
By: Dave Collins

Ducks Win Title On Bunt In Ninth

The 2012 Atlantic League season ended in the most wild of manners.

Dan Lyons, whose error kept the Barnstormers alive, dropped down a perfect bunt with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to score Matt Esquivel from third base with the championship run as Long Island captured the best-of-five finals with a 5-4 Game Five win over Lancaster Sunday evening at Bethpage Ballpark.

Ronnie Morales retired Bryant Nelson on a grounder to short to open the ninth, the only batter he faced. Joe Bateman (0-1) came into the ballgame and worked ahead of Lee Cruz, 1-2. Cruz popped a ball up in foul territory on the right side, which dropped just to the left of Tommy Everidge’s attempt. Cruz would go on to work out a walk as would Esquivel. Ross Peeples got Mitch Canham to force Cruz at third for the second out. Once again, the Barnstormers went to the pen for Josh Dew. The right-hander’s first pitch to Lyons sailed past Emerson Frostad to move the runners to second and third. Lyons took two out of the zone, saw Travis Denker back at third and dropped the bunt that barely hugged the grass. He beat the throw, and the Ducks celebrated their second league crown.

The Barnstormers tied the game in a quirky manner in the top of the inning. Denker led off with a screaming home run down the left field line to bring his club to within one. Emerson Frostad followed with a walk from closer Leo Rosales (1-1). Adam Godwin moved him to second with a bunt, and a wild pitch got Frostad to third with pinch hitter Bridger Hunt at the plate. Hunt struck out, bringing up Gilberto Mejia. The Lancaster second baseman stroked a grounder to short, but Lyons dealt a low throw to first which eluded Brandon Sing as the tying run scored.

Long Island put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first. Kraig Binick and Joash Brodin both singled, putting runners at first and third with nobody out. Ray Navarrete knocked in one run with a sacrifice fly to center, and Brodin reached second when Godwin’s throw hit Binick sliding in. Nelson’s two-out ground single to right produced the second run. Lancaster closed within one on Everidge blasted a home run to dead center.

Brodin singled home a run in the bottom of the second for a 3-1 edge, and, again, the Barnstormers used the long ball, a rocket to left center by Ryan Harvey in the fourth to pull back to within one.

Dwayne Pollok, working on three days rest, allowed a base hit to Sing and hit Nelson with a pitch, one out into the fifth inning. Cruz hit what appeared to be a perfect double play grounder toward Kody Kirkland, but the ball hit Sing, keeping the inning alive. Esquivel doubled home Nelson with a smash down the third base line.

NOTES: The Atlantic League had not had a Championship Series go five games since 2003…Harvey set the league playoff record with five home runs…Denker, who was 17-for-33 in the post-season tied the mark with 12 RBI…He hit four homers…Lancaster outhomered the opposition, 17-2, in the playoffs…Bethpage Ballpark was the only location where the Barnstormers had a losing record in 2012…They went 5-8 there.

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