LIBERTY DIVISION STANDINGS:
1) Somerset 37-16
2) Long Island 35-17
Long Island Ducks: Flock swat Sugar Land Skeeters to gain their latest series sweep; improve record to 16-1 in June.
The Long Island Ducks remain the Atlantic League's hottest team.
With Thursday night's victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters, the Flock completed their third series sweep in their last four, extended their most recent winning streak to 6 games, and improved their record to 16-1 in June after opening the month with a 10-game winning streak.
On June 1st, the Ducks lay 5 games back of the Liberty Division leading Somerset Patriots. By close of business Thursday, Long Island cut Somerset's lead to just 1.5 games. There are just 18 games remaining in the season's first half, and the teams are just 15 games away from what could prove to be a decisive head-to-head showdown for the first half crown.
Despite the Ducks torrid month of June, the Somerset Patriots have remained no less relentless. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and 13-5 in June. They just split 4 games with the Bridgeport Bluefish, and still lead the circuit with a 37-16 record.
Long Island will now host the Bridgeport Bluefish, whom given the Ducks quite a bit of trouble this season. The Bluefish lead the season series by a 6-4 margin. The Ducks were swept in their first meeting, and the Bluefish took 2 of 3 games in their second encounter. Last weekend, the Ducks rebounded after losing the series opener to sweep the final 3 games. On Friday they open a 4 game series at Bethpage Ballpark.
The Patriots will open a weekend series against the Sugar Land Skeeters in Somerset.
Ducks win series over Skeeters 3-0
I - LID 4; SLS 1
II - LID 3; SLS 1
III - LID 2; SLS 0
Mickey Jannis toed the rubber Thursday night for Long Island, and was opposed by Sugar Land's Roy Merritt. The two dueled for 7 innings.
Jannis faced 24 batters and threw 94 pitches, with 55 going for strikes. He allowed no runs on just 3 hits, walked 3 and fanned 5 batters before exiting on the winning side of a 2-0 game.
Merritt faced 25 batters and threw 91 pitches with 62 going for strikes. Ducks DH Randy Ruiz hit Merritt's only mistake of the evening over the left field wall to give the Ducks their 2-0 margin of victory. Lew Ford, who previously singled, scored. Merritt otherwise limited the Ducks to 5 hits, walked none, and fanned 3 batters.
Mickey Jannis improved his record to 5-2, lowered his league leading ERA to a 1.31 mark, and now boasts the league's lowest (.183) batting average against. He is also 4th in the league behind his team mate John Brownell with 49 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched, and owns a .950 WHiP.
Randy Ruiz's double in the second game of Wednesday's double-header proved to be the game winning RBI, as did his 2-run clout on Thursday.
Delta Cleary Jr., has batted lead-off the last 2 games, while Bryan Sabatella nurses a leg injury incurred during the first game of Wednesday's double-header against the Skeeters. He went 3 for 4 in Wednesday's first game while batting the second slot, but went 0 for 7 in 2 games batting lead-off and watched his average dip from .339 to a .319 mark.
Lew Ford, however, is tied for the league lead with a .340 average, and still leads the circuit with 44 RBI. First baseman Jon Griffin remains right behind him with 36 RBI.
Dan Lyons went 3 for 7 with 3 RBI in 3 games against the Skeeters. He is now 6th in the league with 26 RBI, and kept his average hovering at the .300 mark.
On the mound, pitcher Andrew Barbosa continues providing the Ducks with high quality starts. He started in Wednesday's first game of a double-header, pitched 6 innings, allowed no runs on just 3 hits, walked 3 and fanned 7 batters en route to his 3rd victory of the season. He is 3-0 since joining Long Island with a 1.96 ERA. Moreover, the Ducks are 6-0 in games he pitched.
Closer Ryan Kussmaul earned a save in each Long Island's 3 victories over Sugar Land, which included a pair during Wednesday's double-header. He has a 2-0 record with a 2.03 ERA, and a league leading 16 saves. He has struck out 23 batters in 26.2 innings pitched.
The Ducks offense have scored the most runs in the Atlantic League to date. They also own the league's best team slash with a .279/.349/. 384 mark, and have stolen the most bases.
On the mound, Somerset and Long Island are running first and second in team ERA, batting average against, slugging against, and team WHiP. However, Patriots pitchers have tossed 5 complete games, while the Ducks have tossed none.