With the tying run on second base, Elmer Reyes grounded out to the shortstop to preserve the Bridgeport Bluefish’s 5-4 win over the Long Island Ducks, dropping the Flock back to the .500 mark.
In a 140-game season, this happening on Jun. 9 shouldn’t ring the alarm, but since the Atlantic League season has two halves, this loss really hurts.
Not only did Bridgeport put some distance between themselves and the Ducks, but the Flock is now five games behind the Somerset Patriots with about three weeks left to play in the first half.
“This is it,” said manager Kevin Baez. “It’s real important. I thought we would do that once we went to Bridgeport and New Britain. Now, teams we are playing are doing well, so we have to step it up.”
Maybe the biggest issue for the Ducks today is their location. For some odd reason, this team doesn’t like playing in Central Islip. A 9-14 record at home compared to 15-10 on the road put the Flock in this predicament. There’s still time to turn it around though.
However, if this home adverse trend continues, take solace Duck fans, because they have nine more games at home and 12 on the road in the first half, including a trip to Sugar Land at the end of the month.
And if that doesn’t help, maybe Frank Boulton will just rent rooms at the Marriott across the road to make his team feel comfortable.
“We have no room for error,” Baez said. “We have to take series. I meet with them every game and they know it.”
Either way, the Ducks have some work cut out for them, because both Somerset and Bridgeport are playing well and neither are showing signs of letting up. “[Bridgeport] is playing winning baseball right now,” Baez said. “They have pitching and timely hitting. There’s more competition, and it’s exciting.”
Now, if the Ducks don’t win the first half, there is still the second half of the season, but that sometimes get tricky. Because of the fluid rosters in independent baseball, and players getting signed all the time, teams like the Flock may find themselves shorthanded very quickly.
So, it’s always better to win early, get the playoff spot and take the pressure off in the second half.
Baez knows this all too well.
“My message in the beginning was that the games in April and May are just as important, and even more so now,” he said. “So, we have to get over this.”
And that’s why this loss stings so much.