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Barnstormers Lose In “Twilight” Zone

Long Island Rallies in Seventh for 6-5 Win

Following sunny days, there is a 3-5 minute window where the ball can be difficult to pick up against the twilight sky.

For the Long Island Ducks, that window could not have come at a better time on Monday night.

Two pop flies dropped in the outfield, helping to produce a three-run inning as the Ducks rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Lancaster Barnstormers in the opener of a three-game series at Bethpage Ballpark.

The loss dropped Lancaster’s lead over idle Sugar Land to 2 ½ games.

Leading, 5-3, entering the bottom of the seventh, the Barnstormers made two mistakes to give the Ducks the chance to come back. Jared Lakind (1-2) walked Jordany Valdespin on five pitches.  Emilio Bonifacio slapped a grounder to third on which Tyler Bortnick made a nice stop to his left but his throw to second base eluded Rico Noel, putting the tying runs at the corners.

Lakind started pitching his way out of the trouble.  Travis Snider drove in one run with a sacrifice fly to left.  Then, Lew Ford hit a pop fly to short left, which Trayvon Robinson did not pick up right away. The ball fell in front for a single.  Lakind struck out David Washington in the midst of a double steal.  Manager Ross Peeples opted to walk Taylor Ard to fill the vacancy at first, setting up a meeting between Lakind and left-handed batting Daniel Fields.

Fields responded with a fly ball to short left center.  Darian Sandford did not see it, and Robinson’s desperate diving try came up short as the tying and lead runs scored.

Big league veterans Vinnie Pestano and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez closed the door on the Barnstormers from there.

The Barnstormers had built their lead on productive outs.  Nate Coronado, Sandford and Rico Noel each had a sacrifice fly, and Robinson had an RBI ground out.  Blake Gailen produced the only other Lancaster run with a homer to right center field off Matt Larkins (3-1) in the third inning, his second in two days and fifth of the year.

Ard homered in the second off Lancaster starter Steve Johnson. Consecutive RBI singles by Snider and Ford in the third temporarily tied the game at 3-3.

Johnson allowed seven hits in six innings, and struck out nine.  Two of the three runs were earned.

The two clubs meet again on Wednesday evening.  Lancaster will send lefty Tommy Shirley (3-1) to the mound against southpaw Bennett Parry (2-0).  Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 6:15.

NOTES:  Vladimir Frias was the only Barnstormer with more than one hit in the game…The shortstop was 3-for-4, including a single off Rodriguez…He is 11-for-18 in his last seven games and is batting .350 on the year…Ryan Casteel stretched a hit streak to five and has hit safely in five of his last seven.