(Long Island, NY) The Long Island Ducks introduced a new starting time for weeknight games on Tuesday at Citibank Park when they hosted the Somerset Patriots. First pitch was 6:35 pm and the evening began with the announcement that Ducks hitting/infield coach Kevin Baez has been signed by the Mets organization in a coaching capacity.
Regarding the new starting time, Ducks general manager Michael Pfaff said, “Our fans let us know that they would like an earlier starting time for weeknight games while school is still in session.” The half hour earlier beginning will take place in May, June and September.
On this beautiful night for baseball, Somerset lit up the Ducks pitchers for 13 hits and routed the home team by a score of 13-6. Patriots’ right fielder Mike Lockwood just missed hitting for the cycle, sans the single.
Long Island DucksThe Ducks (5-5) were coming off a three-game weekend sweep of the Lancaster Barnstormers but fell behind the Patriots 2-0 in the first inning. In the top of the third, Lockwood hit an opposite field home run off Long Island starting pitcher Pat Ahearne to pad the advantage.
The Ducks got one back in the bottom of the frame when second baseman Ray Navarrete singled home Derek Wathan. After Somerset (7-3) went up by a score of 4-1, DH Jorge Piedra knocked in right fielder Kevin Haverbusch with a double to the wall in right center field in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit in half.
Ahearne could not find the plate in the top of the fifth and forced in a run when he hit left fielder Teuris Olivares in the back with the bases loaded. It was his second batter he hit in the inning. That brought manager Dave LaPoint out to the mound to bring in Tim Cain, who is still the all-time Atlantic League leader in career wins. Cain promptly stopped the bleeding by retiring the side with a fly out.
Ex-major leaguer Carl Everett drove home a run in the bottom of the fifth with a groundout to the right side to make the score 5-3. Haverbusch then hit one to the base of the left field wall for a double to put runners at second and third. But Damian Rolls grounded out to end the inning, stranding both runners.
In the top of the sixth, Lockwood drove in a run with a long triple off the base of the right centerfield wall and came around to score on third baseman Jeff Nettles’ base hit.
Haverbusch hit a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 7-6. In the top of the seventh, the Patriots widened their lead when DH Josh Pressley doubled to drive in two. Catcher Michael Hernandez then lined a single over first base to plate two more for an 11-6 lead. The scoring was completed when Elliott Ayala, Somerset’s left fielder and ninth place hitter, smacked a triple to center to bring two more runners home.
Ahearne took the loss by surrendering four earned runs in 4.2 innings and fell to 1-2. Andy Van Hekken pitched six innings, giving up only two earned runs and improved to 2-0.
The feel-good story on the night was Baez, who will report to the Mets Rookie team in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Brooklyn native said there was a “50/50 chance” that he will be assigned to the Mets NY- Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“The guys here (Long Island Ducks) are set in their ways and all you have to do is fine tune,” Baez said. “With the younger guys, it’s a different feeling (coaching them).”