FIRST ~ HALF
LONG ISLAND DUCKS: It's not how you start, it's how you finsh! Flock overcome Somerset Patriots' 13-0 season start to clinch Liberty Division first half pennant.
In a classic wire-to-wire pennant race against the Somerset Patriots, Long Island entered the weekend with their own destiny in hand, but not before June proved to be a month of extreme peaks and valleys. They finished strongly, however, going 8-2 down the stretch and winning their last three games to secure a place in this Autumn's post-season.
The first half truly was a 68 game struggle ... the Ducks entered Saturday's action with a magic number of one over the Somerset Patriots, who never made things easy down to the last by defeating the Bridgeport Bluefish ensuring the Liberty Division race would remain banjo tight.
After Saturday's clincher, Ducks fans rewarded their team's pennant with a franchise record setting 7,602 in attendance during Sunday's series sweep over the Sugar Land Skeeters and first half finale.
Long Island ended the first half with a 40-30 record, two games ahead of the perennially contending Somerset Patriots, and tied with the Freedom Division champs York Revolution for the best record in the league.
Saturday's 6-1 clincher over the Skeeters featured John Brownell's franchise record setting 41st victory as a member of the Long Island Ducks. After facing 33 batters, and throwing 125 pitches with 81 going for strikes through 8.1 innings pitched, Coach Baez removed Brownell from the game so as to let his starter walk off to a well deserved home crowd ovation.
The Ducks veteran ace allowed a lone earned run on seven hits and two walks, with six strikeouts, improving to 5-3, while lowering his ERA from 3.10 to a 2.90 mark. Now in his fifth season with the Ducks, Brownell owns a career 41-30 record with a 3.43 ERA over 641 innings pitched.
The Long Island Ducks will begin relying on John Brownell, Jack Snodgrass, and Darin Downs, a whole lot more from here on out. That's because MLB eyes noticed the work of starter, and Atlantic League's second best ERA leader Mark Blackmar, whose contract was purchased by the Washington Nationals. While this is yet another Atlantic League mission accomplished story (..and good luck to him!), this is nonetheless a big blow to the Ducks.
In Blackmar's absence, John Brownell is now tied for second in league ERA behind Bridgeport's Mike Antonini.