And so begins what the Ducks hope will be a climb toward the top. After starting the weekend eight games behind the Liberty Division-leading Somerset Patriots, the Ducks waddled their way into the second-half race with a three-game sweep of their rivals this weekend at Bethpage Ballpark.
The Ducks beat the Patriots, 8-3, Sunday night to end a weekend of dominance and move within five games of the division lead.
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"Every game is so important for us because we dug ourselves such a big hole earlier in the second half," manager Kevin Baez said. "We feel confident that we're giving ourselves a chance [in the division]. That's all you can ask."
Lew Ford and Bill Hall had three hits each and Cody Puckett, Joash Brodin and Dan Lyons added two each for the Ducks (17-21), who had 15 hits. Ford drove in two runs and scored twice.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Ducks scored four runs in the third, sending nine batters to the plate. Fehlandt Lentini's RBI single produced the first run, and Ford's single down the leftfield line later made it 3-2. Brandon Bantz's RBI single produced a 4-2 lead.
Brian Barden's solo home run in the fifth cut the Patriots' deficit to one, but the Ducks answered with two runs on RBI singles by Puckett and Evan Crawford in the bottom of the inning for a 6-3 lead.
Brodin led off the eighth with a towering blast to rightfield for his sixth homer of the season and first since June 6. Ford's RBI single made it 8-3.
Mitch Talbot gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out three in his third win of the season. "I was getting ahead with my fastball," he said. "Then I used the changeup, cutter and curveball to help that out."
The Ducks will face Somerset seven times in the next 11 days. With offensive outputs of four, seven and eight runs this weekend, the games appear to be coming at the perfect time for the Ducks.
"They have a good staff," Ford said. "There's a reason they're in first place . . . I don't know if we've figured them out, but we've been able to jump on them these past three days."
Notes & quotes: Lentini left the game after twisting his ankle in the eighth inning. Baez said Lentini iced the ankle and the team will "see how he feels." The Ducks play in Bridgeport Monday night.