Perhaps it was nerves, perhaps it was uncertainty, or perhaps it was just an off night. But, whatever it was, Jack Snodgrass’ first start in the Atlantic League was not good. The Ducks lefty only lasted four innings on April 24 against the Somerset Patriots, allowing four runs on seven hits in a 6-1 loss.

For someone who had spent the last five seasons in the San Francisco Giants minor league system, this was his “welcome to the Atlantic League” moment. And he didn’t like it that much.

“It was my first start in the league and I think I was guilty of being on my heels, not really sure what the league was going to be like,” Snodgrass, 28, said. “Ever since then, I’ve told myself to be aggressive and attack, and that’s helped me out.”

Snodgrass’ rocky integration into the Atlantic League didn’t last long. In his next start, a win over Southern Maryland on April 29, he tossed six strong innings, only allowing one earned run on five hits.

Now, only three weeks after that rough debut, it appears the 6-6 Kentucky native has hit his stride. Snodgrass struck out 12 batters over six, two-hit, shutout innings in the Ducks 1-0 win over Somerset Wednesday night at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. It was his third consecutive victory.

The high punch-out number was only two off the franchise’s single-game record (14), most recently hit by former Duck and current Oakland Athletics lefty Rich Hill last August.

“He was missing a lot of bats,” a wide-eyed Kevin Baez said gleefully in the Ducks clubhouse Friday. “He was keeping the ball down. His fastball was moving in and out. His change-up was outstanding.”

That change-up was responsible for “just about” every strikeout to right handed batters, Snodgrass estimated. Lefties, on the other hand, fell for the slider.

“Me and (catcher) Mike Dowd had a nice combination of working in with the fastball and away with the off-speed,” Snodgrass, who is now 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA, said.

The win was the Ducks first (and, so far, only) against the rival Somerset Patriots this season. After losing two of three this week, the Ducks fell to 1-6 against the Patriots, the only team that, in the early going, looks to stand between them and a Liberty Division first half championship.

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“We haven’t hit well against Somerset,” Baez, who watched his team score three runs in three games this week, said.

Entering Saturday’s doubleheader against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the Ducks were four games behind the first-place Patriots in the Liberty Division first half standings. The winner of the first half receives an automatic bid to the postseason.

“They’re playing well,” Baez said of the Patriots. “They’re pitching is very good. They’re bullpen is very good. They have some pretty decent hitters. That combination makes a good team.”

Looking ahead

The Ducks close out their homestand Sunday against Southern Maryland. They will travel to Texas this week to face the Sugar Land Skeeters who, at the beginning of play yesterday, were tied for the Freedom Division lead with York. The Ducks play Somerset next weekend for the final time until after the July All-Star break.