Central Islip, NY – For a baseball team getting ready to start a road trip, getting a victory before getting on the bus, can give a team confidence. For the Long Island Ducks, their six game home stand ended on a very happy note, as two home runs, lifted them to a 8-2 victory over the York Revolution. Long Island (18-16) is now only 2 ½ games behind first place Southern Maryland.
“We it was a big series for us”, replied Ducks Manager Gary Carter. “We needed a good outing by Brad (Halsey), and he gave that to us. We had the toughest part of our schedule over the past two weeks, so hopefully now the schedule will be in our favor.”
The Ducks quickly got runs on the board to start the game. Long Island’s Preston Wilson was hit in the nose from a fastball from York starting pitcher Dan Foli (0-6), and left the game. After Alex Prieto replaced Wilson at first, Victor Rodriguez tagged a pitch to deep centerfield, scoring Ray Navarette. Foli then walked Johnny Hernandez, allowing the Central Islip standout Harris to the plate, who then drilled a fastball out to right centerfield to give the Ducks their first Grand Slam of the season.
Wilson was taken to a local hospital for X-rays, according to Ducks General Manager, Michael Pfaff.
“He has a minor displaced fracture on the nose, and we don’t think it will require surgery”, said Carter. “I was just scared of a fracture of the cheekbone. Hopefully, he will be back in a few days.”
York (10-24) got their only run of the ball game in the top of the second on a double by catcher Luis Taveras, scoring Matt Esquivel who had doubled two batters before Taveras.
Harris started the Ducks next offensive output in the fourth, hitting a single up the middle off of Foli, who had retired eight in a row after Harris’ homer in the first. Catcher Rob Sandora, the pride of West Babylon, drove a Foli pitch over the right centerfield wall for his first home run of the season, to give the Ducks a six run lead.
“I’ve been feeling good, and when you are getting consistent at-bats, you get into a groove”, said Harris about his recent performance. “It helps to be playing every day, and the fact that you will be in there the next day, even if you are not successful that day, it is less pressure on you, and it’s a lot easier to play.”
Brad Halsey (2-3), who struggled mightily in his last outing, allowing seven runs in just over three innings, seemed to have his control in order, allowing only four hits in six innings, striking out one and did not walk a batter. He retired 10 of his 18 outs on the ground, and was consistently picking the corners and staying ahead of the hitters.
“It helped to have the guys step up in the first”, said Halsey. “They had an idea that I was not doing too well, and they gave me a chance to relax. The big difference today, was that I was having fun out there.”
“We did not want to over-extend him”, replied Carter on Halsey’s outing. “He had 95 pitches, so it gave us a chance to get guys some innings, and get other guys a day off.”
Robert Paulk, a former Met farmhand that just signed by the Ducks on Saturday, made his debut with a scoreless seventh inning.
Sandora, drove his third run of the game, as he squibbed one past the glove of Jeff Eure to bring in the eighth run of the conquest.
Mike Hrynio had a scoreless eighth inning, and Ron Flores finished the ninth, allowing one run to score.
Victor Rodriguez had four hits for the Ducks, while Ray Navarette was on base with three hits for Long Island. Luis Tavares had three hits to lead the York attack.
For Carter and the Ducks, they are now sitting at the half-way point of the first half, and he feels that they are doing quite well.
“We’ve lost a lot of key players”, said Carter, “but guys have been stepping up and doing nicely; and our pitching staff is getting stronger. We just need to hold our own. We can’t take Bridgeport lightly, and in York they will be want to try to get the wins back.”
Thirty-six games left in the half, and Long Island seems to be ready to move up the standings.
Quacker Notes: Today’s attendance of 6,096 at Citibank Park giving the Ducks another sellout crowd. Who’s Hot? Despite the struggle on the field on Saturday night, Joe Valentine’s scoreless streak is now sitting at 18 innings. He has not allowed an earned run, since April 28th at Lancaster. The Ducks are on the road for the next seven with a three game stint against the Bridgeport Bluefish, following with a four game rematch versus the Revolution. The Ducks return to Long Island on Monday, June 8th to face the Newark Bears in a four game series.