There is nothing better in America than a 4th of July weekend at a ballpark. I decided to not only do that but to do it at Bethpage Ballpark on Long Island. Home of the Long Island Ducks. You can’t get anymore American. There are players from all over this great country of ours playing here today. Shoot, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs even have a player from Hawaii, infielder Kalaia Kahoohalahala. And even though he is only batting .182, just to see how they fit his name on the back of his uniform, is worth the price of admission. Must have big shoulders. But seriously, popcorn, hotdog and a cold beer on a warm summer night in a ballpark, followed by a huge fireworks display after the game? It doesn’t get any better than that.
Today’s starting pitcher for the Ducks was local product Dennis O’Grady from Floral Park. One of five players on the Ducks squad who are originally from Long Island. After loosing his last three starts, O’Grady was looking to find that real good slider and curve he showed early this season. And although he wasn’t sharp, he showed decent enough command of his pitches to get himself through six innings with minimal damage. Having been given a comfortable six run lead after the first three innings, it gave him a chance to find his good stuff. His slider became sharper around the third inning and at times was unhittable.
Beginning in the first inning, it looked like the fireworks show had started early as Lew Ford blasted a bomb for a two run lead. Followed by Giovanny Alfonzo, nephew of former Mets and Ducks infielder Edgardo Alfonzo, his first as a Duck in the second inning and Elmer Reyes, a three run blast in the third. The crowd of 6744 (660 past capacity) were treated to fireworks after each one. A few free runs on a balk, a wild pitch and a double play, gave O’Grady a seven run lead at 9 – 2 after six innings. Everything looked good. But then in the seventh O’Grady ran out of steam giving up three runs to close the gap to a four run lead. The Ducks added a run in the bottom of the seventh and then coasted to the end.
Angelo Songco was outstanding at first base. Making numerous long, balanced stretches and backhand scoops of throws in the dirt. I was equally impressed with the power bat of the Blue Crabs right handed DH Michael Snyder after he blasted an opposite field HR in the sixth inning. Alfonzo finished the game 4-for-4. The Ducks look to continue with this winning attitude as they now begin the second half of this season. Hoping to capture that second half and a spot in the play-offs
But the big winners tonight, were the fans who have been supporting this franchise for twenty years. The fact that the Independent Atlantic League provides quality professional baseball and a fun night for all is why they keep coming. Not a bad way to spend a beautiful summer night before the 4th of July.
And as for Kalaia Kahoohalahala? The Blue Crabs don’t have names on the backs of their away uniforms.