Long Island Ducks (69-57, 0-0) vs. Sugar Land Skeeters (81-45, 0-0)
LHP Jake Fisher (8-7, 3.91 ERA) vs. LHP James Russell (8-4, 2.36 ERA)
Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 • Constellation Field • 7:05 p.m. CT
GOING TO THE SHIP: The Skeeters punched their ticket to their third trip to the Atlantic League Championship Series with a 10-6 win in 10 innings on Sunday night over the Lancaster Barnstormers in Game 5 of the Freedom Division Championship Series. The last time the Skeeters went to the ALCS was in 2016 when they beat the Long Island Ducks in three games for their first -- and only -- league title. The Skeeters' other trip to the ALCS came in 2014 when they were defeated by the Barnstormers in three games. Derrick Loop is the only member of the 2018 Skeeters who was on the Skeeters' postseason roster in 2016 and he was 0-0 with four saves and a 3.85 ERA through five games (4.2 IP) in the 2016 playoffs.
ABOUT THAT COMEBACK: The Skeeters erased a three-run ninth-inning deficit, and then a one-run 10th-inning deficit to defeat Lancaster in Game 5 of the Freedom Division Championship Series. The Skeeters had also trailed by four runs through six innings in Game 5, making their comeback the second-largest in Skeeters postseason history. The Skeeters erased a seven-run deficit to beat the York Revolution, 10-9, in Game 2 of the Freedom Division Championship Series on September 21, 2016. Anthony Giansanti and Matt Chavez each hit solo homers in the top of the ninth inning before Derek Norris drove in the tying run with a single. Anthony Giansanti scored the tying run in the 10th on a wild pitch before Tony Thomas belted a walk-off grand slam. The Skeeters are now 2-0 in postseason Game 5's in franchise history, with the other Game 5 victory coming with a 5-3 win at York in the 2014 Freedom Division Championship Series.
GRAND SALAMI: Tony Thomas' walk-off grand slam was the first walk-off home run in Skeeters postseason history and the second walk-off grand slam in franchise history. The only other walk-off grand slam came from Kevin Ahrens in a 7-6 win over the York Revolution on August 17, 2017. Thomas' grand slam was also the second grand slam in Skeeters postseason history, with the other coming from Josh Prince in Game 3 of the 2016 Freedom Division Championship Series against the York Revolution.
WHO'S HOT?: Through the five games of the Freedom Division Championship Series, Anthony Giansanti was 10-for-21 (.476) with five runs, two doubles, a home run and three RBIs. Derek Norris went 8-for-18 (.444) with three runs, a double and four RBIs, Matt Chavez went 5-for-19 (.263) with four runs, a home runs and four RBIs, Juan Silverio went 8-for-23 (.348) with four runs, a homer and three RBI and Tony Thomas went 6-for-19 (.316) with two runs, a double, a home run and five RBIs.
VS. LONG ISLAND: The Skeeters went 8-10 aganist the Long Island Ducks this season and they were the only team in the Atlantic League the Skeeters held a losing record against in 2018. The Skeeters hit .234/.312/.339 against the Ducks in 2018 while the pitching staff owned a 3.68 ERA (159 IP). The Skeeters own a 68-67 all-time regular-season record against the Ducks and are 3-0 against Long Island all time in the postseason, with all three meetings coming in the 2016 Atlantic League Championship Series.
RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: James Russell ended the regular season with a 2.36 ERA to clinch the Atlantic League ERA title. His 2.36 ERA is the lowest qualifying ERA in Skeeters history and he's also the first player in Skeeters history to win the league ERA title. David Pauley's 2.66 ERA in 2014 had previously served as the lowest single-season qualifying ERA in the franchise's seven-year history.
YOU WANT TO TALK PLAYOFFS?: The Skeeters are making their fourth trip to the postseason in the franchise's seven-year history. Their last trip to the playoffs came in 2016 when they went on to win the Atlantic League title, the lone league title in franchise history. The Skeeters are 13-10 in the postseason in franchise history, including a 3-3 record in the Atlantic League Championship Series. They entered the postseason after an 81-45 record, which was seven games ahead of the Barnstormers for the best record in the Atlantic League this season.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The Skeeters won both the first-half and second-half Freedom Division titles this season, joining the 2013 Skeeters as the only other team in franchise history to win both titles They were the first two Freedom Division titles under first-year manager Pete Incaviglia. The Skeeters have won five Freedom Division title in franchise history: 2013 (first and second half), 2016 (second half), 2018 (first and second half).
BIG-LEAGUE CHOPS: The Skeeters have nine players on their 2018 postseason roster with Major League service time: RHP Dallas Beeler (CHC), RHP Jorge De Leon (HOU), RHP Jean Machi (SF, BOS, SEA), RHP Michael Mariot (KC, PHI), C Derek Norris (OAK, SD, TB), OF Denis Phipps (CIN), LHP Dan Runzler (SF, PIT), LHP James Russell (CHC, ATL, PHI), RHP Matt West (TEX, LAD) and RHP Alex Wimmers (MIN).
WHAT A YEAR: The Skeeters ended their season at 81-45, which was the second-best regular-season record in team history. The best record in Skeeters history came in 2013 (95-45) when the Skeeters set Atlantic League records in regular-season wins and winning percentage (.679). The Skeeters eclipsed 80 wins for just the second time in the franchise's seven-year history. Along with 2013, the Skeeters also reached 80 wins in 2014, but both of those 80-win campaigns came in 140-game regular seasons while there are just 126 games in the 2018 regular season.
RECORDS GALORE: The Skeeters set single-season team records in batting average (.273), on-base percentage (.349) and ERA (3.11). The team's previous records for batting average and on-base percentage came in 2016 (.267/.333) and the previous ERA record came in 2013 (3.20). The Skeeters ended the regular season leading the league in on-base percentage, which was the first time in team history that they led the league in on-base percentage. The Skeeters also led the league in ERA, which was fourth time in team history that they led the league in ERA (2018, 2017, 2014, 2013).
“SHOW” TIME: The Skeeters have had 12 players from their 2018 roster have their contract purchased by Major League Baseball organizations, which is the franchise's single-season record and the second-most in the Atlantic League since the Skeeters joined in 2012: RHP Austin Adams (Minnesota Twins), RHP Logan Bawcom (Los Angeles Dodgers), RHP Dallas Beeler (Kansas City Royals), LHP Hunter Cervenka (Detroit Tigers), RHP Alejandro Chacin (Cincinnati Reds), RHP Casey Coleman (Chicago Cubs), LHP Matt Gage (New York Mets), OF Courtney Hawkins (Cincinnati Reds), INF Rey Navarro (New York Yankees), RHP Danny Reynolds (Milwaukee Brewers), LHP Paco Rodriguez (Minnesota Twins) and RHP Mitch Talbot (Cleveland Indians).
Skeeters mobile app rewards users: Use code 'GrandSalami' to earn 25 points!