All that's left for Ray Navarrete is a championship

The Long Island Ducks' Ray Navarrete runs the The Long Island Ducks' Ray Navarrete runs the bases during practice preparing for the Atlantic League Championship series. (Oct. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- His birth certificate may say New Jersey, but Ray Navarrete's home is Long Island.

The four-time Atlantic League All-Star, and 2009 MVP, is the Ducks' all-time leader in hits, home runs, RBIs, runs, doubles and games played. When he's not rewriting team record books, he's been making a life for himself in Port Washington.

And while Navarrete reached Triple-A in the Mets' organization, and attended spring training with the Pirates, he calls his seven years on Long Island his greatest baseball experience.

All that's missing is a championship.

"I'm getting older," said the 34-year old infielder before Wednesday night's Atlantic League Championship Series opener. "I've been very lucky to win some awards throughout my career with the Ducks. The only one I don't have is a championship. I keep saying, every single All-Star appearance, every single time someone said I did good, I'd give that all back in a bag if I could just get that final ring."

Navarrete and the Ducks would need another late rally to move closer to that missing hardware Wednesday night. Through five innings, Lancaster had a 1-0 lead. Former Yankee Randy Keisler allowed an unearned run in the second inning.

Navarrete joined the Ducks in 2006, two seasons after they won their only Atlantic League title. Navarrete, outfielder Kraig Binick and bullpen coach Jamie Quinn spend the offseason on Long Island.

Last season's championship series, which ended with the heavily-favored Ducks losing to York, hit those three especially hard.

"Every year is a sad time for me because this is my home," Navarrete said. "These are my best friends and they all pack up and leave. Last year we came up short and the three of us were still here. When it doesn't end the way you want it makes for a much longer winter."

Win or lose, for the foreseeable future, Navarrete will spend his winters waiting for summer.

"This is my team," Navarrete said. "Even though we all wish that this was the World Series, I don't think people realize how close our talent is to that. We're lucky. We're some of the few men in the country who get paid to play baseball. I want to do that as long the Ducks are kind enough to want me."

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