Wednesday, April 23, 2014

L.I. Ducks: Somerset Patriots Prepare For Another Flock Invasion

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Open The Gates, And Play Ball!


Some Park In New Jersey

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: More Bling Please...! Title Defense Begins Against A New Division Foe, But An Old League Rival.

The 15th regular season of Long Island Ducks baseball picks up where 2013 left off, against the Somerset Patriots.  Of course, the Patriots are five time Atlantic League champions, who last year knocked off the league's top team (the mighty Sugar Land Skeeters) in the Freedom Division series to advance and face the Ducks for the Atlantic League championship.

Long Island won the first two games of last year's final, but Somerset stormed back to tie, and force a decisive Game Five.  The Ducks ultimately prevailed, capturing their second consecutive (and rather improbable) league title, and the organization's third overall.

A slight league realignment has now brought the Patriots and Ducks even closer together.  Somerset moves to the Liberty Division this season, while the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will shift to the Freedom Division.

Friday evening, Somerset will no doubt be looking to punctuate their 2014 Opening Day festivities by gaining a small measure of revenge over their Long Island rivals.

At the plate, the Patriots will once again feature Cory Smith, who hit 20 home runs, and knocked in 84 runs last season.  In the outfield, Aharon Eggleston batted .294, with 8 homers and 56 RBI.

On the mound, Josh Lowey returns to lead the starting rotation.  He led the Patriots with a 14-8 record, and 2.89 ERA last season.  He struck out 124 batters in 155.2 innings pitched.  He'll once again team up with David Harden, who posted a 10-2 record with a 3.38 ERA, in 101 innings pitched.

Relief specialists Roy Merritt and Jon Hunton return to anchor the Somerset bullpen.  Last season, Merritt got in 38 games and pitched 64.1 innings, in which he struck out 71 batters, and posted a   4-2 record, with 2 saves, and a 1.95 ERA.  The Patriots closer, Jon Hunton, posted a 3.00 ERA in 54 innings, and saved 37 games.

After their three game weekend series against Somerset, the Ducks will move along to Southern Maryland for a three game set against the Blue Crabs.  Long Island will then host their home opener on Friday, May 2nd, against the York Revolution.


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