LONG ISLAND DUCKS: The Webbed Ones Open July By Clinching First-Half Liberty Division Title.
The Ducks know something about division titles. Last season, they clinched first and second half regular season titles, only to fall in the championship series against York. During the entire 2011 regular season, Long Island was by far the most offensively potent team in the circuit. Then in the Finals, they shorted out. At present, they have now taken the first step towards redeeming themselves, by securing a spot in the Atlantic League's post season.
On Sunday, the Long Island Ducks clinched the first half Liberty Division title rather handily, with an eight game lead as of July 1st, over the second place Camden RiverSharks. And after Monday's win over Southern Maryland, the Ducks now sit 39-24, nine games ahead of Camden. The Long Islanders are winners of their last seven in a row. Only Lancaster, leading the Freedom Division with forty, have more wins than Long Island.
Sunday's clincher came in dramatic fashion. After the Sugar Land Skeeters took a 1-0 lead after three innings off starter off Dan Meyer, the Ducks tied the game in the sixth on a Shawn Williams RBI. Dan Meyer struggled with control, walking six batters in a short 2.2 inning appearance before rain delayed the game. With the bullpen holding the RiverSharks in check, the game remained tied until the bottom of the ninth inning when Dan Lyons drove in Shawn Williams with the winning run and the first half clincher. The Ducks completed a sweep of the Skeeters as well.
Then in Monday's series opener against Southern Maryland, Long Island watched their 4-0 lead after five innings almost disappear. Bryant Nelson's two RBI double gave the Ducks a quick lead after one. In the third inning, Ray Navarrete drove in Ducks' run number three with another double. In the fifth, Ray Navarrete's sac-fly drove home Kraig Binick to give the Ducks a 4-0 lead.
In his first 2012 start as a Duck, Nick Singleton pitched five very effective innings. He allowed a mere two hits and struck out seven. In the sixth, the Blue Crabs touched up reliever Josh Lansford for two runs. In the eighth, they picked up another off Jeremy Hill. But in the ninth and making his return to the Ducks, John Hunton, retired the Blue Crabs in order, to preserve Long Island's victory. The Long Islanders are now winners of eight of their last ten games.
The Lancaster Barnstormers have wrapped up the Freedom Division title, amassing a convincing lead over the York Revolution.
Seven games remain till the halfway mark of the season, and the Atlantic League All-Star Game.