LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Sweep Somerset; Win Seventh in a Row. Duck Sluggers Lead League in RBI. Staff Ace Goes Tomorrow Against Lancaster.
Clearly the Somerset Patriots have had their share of struggles this season and it's starting to wear on them a bit. But that should in no way take away from the fact the Long Island Ducks, with their seventh win in a row, are starting to impose their will on the League now.
Friday's drubbing of Somerset completes a three game sweep of the five-time A.L. Champs. They increased their first place lead over Camden; who were in second place before Friday's games; in the second-half standings to two games as the River Sharks lost to Southern Maryland in the home ninth inning. But now Bridgeport has snuck in at 1.5 games behind the Ducks.
Friday night's win also improves Long Island's over-all record to a League best 55-28; and remain as the only team to breech the fifty-win mark.
As part of a seventeen hit barrage, J.R. House set a Long Island record with his fourth Grand Slam of the season. He and John Rodriguez combined to drive in nine of the Ducks' eleven runs against Somerset Friday.
The Ducks got busy right away against Somerset starter, Jim Magrane, who was making his second start for the Patriots this season. With two outs in the first inning, Javier Colina singled and John Rodriguez drove him home with a two-run blast for an early 2-0 Duck lead.
In the third inning, the Ducks added two more. With the bases loaded, Lew Ford singled to score Ray Navarrete from third. Then, Javier Colina scored on a sac-fly by J.R. House.
In the fourth inning, Long Island went boom on the Patriots. With the bases jammed, John Rodriguez drove in two runs with a single. Then Lew Ford walked to load the bases again. That's when J.R. House stepped up and pounded out his fourth Grand Slam of the season. It was his 16th home run of the season and fifth RBI of the night. Dan Lyons singled home Matt Padgett to cap off the inning and gave the Ducks an 11-0 lead.
Veteran pitcher, Shane Youman, was marvelous...again, in his latest effort against Jeff Nettles; Josh Pressley; and the rest of a very good Somerset Patriots' line-up. Over his six innings pitched Friday night, he allowed only three hits and no runs. He walked two batters and struck out six. Shane improved his record to a stellar 7-1 mark, while sporting a microscopic 0.66 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched this season.
Chris McCoy pitched three superb innings in relief of Shane Youman to complete the shut-out for Long Island and the three game sweep of the Patriots.
The Ducks are headed back to Long Island to start a series against the Lancaster Barnstormers on Saturday. Mike Loree is the next scheduled starter for the Ducks.
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In a reversal from earlier in the season, Kraig Binick is clearly hitting better batting lower in the line-up as opposed to leading off. Before suffering an injury early in the season, he led-off and flourished with an above .400 average. Upon his return, he regained his stroke batting lower in the line-up. When moved up to the lead-off slot again, his hitting slipped. Coach Baez dropped him again and it seems to be where Binick is doing his best work. Kraig is currently batting .351, which is second in the League. In Friday's game, he went 2 for 5 batting in the eighth slot.
* * * *Tonight's game featured what is now, five of the top seven RBI leaders in the League. Somerset's Jeff Nettles lost his spot as the top dog. After Friday night, he was over-taken by the new League leaders in RBI. J.R. House, with his five RBI night, now has 65 on the season. John Rodriguez; even though he missed a little time with injury this season; now climbs into second place with 64 RBI. Jeff Nettled dropped down to third with 62 RBI. Javier Colina ranks fourth in the circuit with 59 RBI. And Patriots' Josh Pressley ranks sixth with 57 RBI.