(Long Island, N.Y.) Doing things the easy way is just not in their DNA, so it should come as no surprise that the Long Island Ducks made their fans sweat it out in another elimination game. And similar to what occurred during that magical 2004 title run, they came out on top when it seemed as if all hope was lost.
After winning the first two games at home versus the Blue Crabs, the series was evened out in Southern Maryland. The deciding Game Five was played in Central Islip and of course came down to the ninth inning of a one-run game. However difficult it was, the Ducks came away with a 5-4 victory and a trip to their second consecutive Atlantic League Championship Series.
“The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs deserve a tremendous amount of credit and I congratulate them on an exciting series and season,” Ducks President and General Manager Michael Pfaff said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to bring Long Island their second Atlantic League championship.”
Standing in their way will be the Lancaster Barnstormers, with the opening contest coming on Wednesday night from Clipper Magazine Stadium in Pennsylvania. A year ago, the Ducks had a chance to win their second title and were unable to do so. Perhaps that will be the type of incentive that they need to do it now.
There are some key players that will have a say in that and their experience may go a long way in bringing that trophy back here. Port Washington’s Ray Navarette has been with the Ducks for six years and the infielder/designated hitter hit .309 with 18 home runs and 90 RBI during the regular season.
First baseman Brandon Sing, who hit a two-run homerun in the pivotal playoff win against Southern Maryland, has been in professional baseball for 14 years after being drafted in 1999 and led the team with 26 home runs and batted .284 with 78 RBI. Across the diamond, Bryant Nelson has manned the hot corner and the former major leaguer (25 games with the Boston Red Sox in 2002) chipped in with 13 home runs and 80 RBI.
Left-handed starter Randy Keisler has been on Long Island for two years and is the ace of the staff. He had a 4-4 record in six big league campaigns and went 5-3, 60 strike outs, 19 walks and a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts for the Ducks this summer. Fellow southpaw Matt Way may only be in his third season of pro ball, but the Alaskan pitched a gem (8 innings, 1 earned run, 10 strikeouts, 0 walks) in Game Two of the Liberty Division Championship Series.
Team MVP Bob Zimmerman has been bouncing around the Atlantic League since 2010 and the right starter led the staff in innings pitched with 172 and also with 117 strikeouts. He became a fan favorite for his gritty performances on the mound and won all of his 16 decisions at Bethpage Ballpark.