LONG ISLAND DUCKS: The Webbed Ones Continue to Dominate The Pond.
Game One ~Friday Final:
Long Island 9
Pond Sweet Pond. Back from Sugar Land, Texas, after splitting a six game series with the Skeeters, the Ducks returned to The Pond and continued their home winning streak that began on Opening Day. After last night's opening series win over the Somerset Patriots, the Ducks are now winners of seven in a row at home. Also winners of seven of their last ten, the Ducks will enter tonight's second game against the Patriots 1.5 games in first place ahead of their Liberty Division rivals. And in spite of last night's loss, the Somerset Patriots are still tied for first in the Freedom Division along with the Lancaster Barnstormers.
The Ducks have been marching on without their former renaissance man; Lew Ford, who was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles. Previous to Ford's departure, Ryan Garko's sizzling bat was purchased by the Tampa Bay Rays. That's a bunch of offensive production the Ducks will have to somehow make up for. Compounding the Ducks line-up issues, heavy hitting Brandon Sing last played on May 11th. And in one another transaction, the rights to Javier Colina were traded to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for a player to be named later.
To bolster the roster, Long Island welcomed back Matt Esquivel, who started last night's game as the team's DH. Last night, Ray Navarrete played first base in Brandon Sing's continued absence. Jake McOwen was in left where Lew Ford often patrolled.
Last night, Ducks' starter, and ace, Mike Loree, struggled through a second consecutive rough start. Only this game, he suffered a little more than usual. He was accidentally hit in the head by his catcher, Josh Johnson, on an attempted throw down to second base in the third inning. Mike stayed in the game, but was removed the following inning. He lasted four innings, and surrendered three runs; two earned; on five hits. He walked three and struck out three before giving way to reliever Jason Monti.
Ray Navarrete's RBI single put the Ducks up by one after the first. Somerset tied the game in the top half of the third, only to give the run back in the bottom half of the inning when Jake McOwen doubled home Kraig Binick with the go ahead run.
Mike Loree encountered trouble in the fourth. After two runs and three hits, his day was done with the Ducks behind 4-3 at the time. In the sixth inning, Somerset pounded out three more runs against Jason Monti. The Patriots scored on a two run triple, and plated another run on a dropped strike three by Josh Johnson, for a 7-3 lead.
After a good crowd stretch, the Ducks stormed back with four runs in the home half of the seventh. Bryant Nelson had an RBI single. Ray Navarrete's bases loaded base hit drove in two more, and Shawn Williams scored the fourth run on a wild pitch.
After Somerset scored one run in the top of the eighth, the Ducks took their turn again, and scored three more. Dan Lyons had an RBI single. Bryant Nelson doubled Lyons home. And Jake McOwen followed with a single to plate Nelson.
Connor Graham, Jeremy Hill, and Jon Meloan combined to pitch the final three innings and preserve Ducks' victory number thirteen on the season in their twentieth game played.
Earlier this season, nine year Somerset Patriots veteran, Jeff Nettles, became the Atlantic League's All-Time Career Hits leader. Atlantic League Story Link