BRIDGEWATER, N.J — The Ducks offense didn’t need much carrying in the first three games of the Liberty Division Championship Series, but slugger David Washington has been there to provide more than enough cushioning.
Washington, who finished second in the league with 24 home runs, cracked three in the first two games of the Liberty Division Championship Series against the Somerset Patriots. He hit two three-run blasts in the Ducks’ 11-1 Game 2 victory in Central Islip. When the series shifted to New Jersey Friday night, Washington hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning of Game 3. The home run gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead, but they went on to lose 8-4, forcing a potentially clinching Game 4 at TD Bank Park on Saturday. The Ducks led 2-1 in the best-of-5 series.
“He’s a force up at bat,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “He can hit balls a long way. He’s a presence out there, so for him to get going is a good sign.”
Historically speaking, it is one of the best ‘signs’ the Ducks have ever had in the playoffs. Washington’s two-homer performance in Game 2 was the first multi-homer game in Ducks postseason history. His six RBIs in Game 2 were also the most in a single playoff game in franchise history and he entered Game 4 tied for the most home runs in a single playoff series. Brandon Sing also hit three in the 2012 Liberty Division Championship Series against Southern Maryland.
“I’m just trying to put together good at-bats, see the ball well, and put good swings on pitches,” Washington said. “I was able to get into a good count (in Game 3) and got a pitch I could handle and got the barrel to it.”
Washington hit .226 this season and led the league in strikeouts with 179 in 113 games.
If things pan out a certain way, the Atlantic League Championship Series, scheduled to begin Tuesday, could feature the two most prolific power hitters in the league. Lancaster’s Blake Gailen led the league with 28 home runs. Lancaster led 2-1 in their best-of-5 Freedom Division Championship Series against the Sugar Land Skeeters entering Saturday night’s Game 4.
LONG ISLAND NATIVE GETS GAME 5 CALL…IF NECCISARY
Should it be needed, Floral Park-native Dennis O’Grady will start the decisive Game 5 Sunday night in New Jersey. O’Grady spent most of the season in the bullpen and went 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 52 appearances (four starts). He struck out 41 and walked 22 in 63 2/3 innings. O’Grady went to Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens and Duke University.
K-ROD WATCH – PLAYOFF EDITION
The Ducks didn’t needed Francisco Rodriguez in the first three games of the Liberty Division Championship Series. Lopsided wins in the first two games and a loss in Game 3 slashed any chance of seeing the all-time great. Entering Saturday’s Game 4, Rodriguez hadn’t pitched since September 15 in Sugar Land – a full week of rest.
After Game 1, Baez said he wasn’t concerned about the long layoffs between appearances.
“K-Rod’s a guy that doesn’t need to pitch every three or four days,” Baez said. “I spoke to him. He gets his work in and he’ll be ready whenever.”
And, with very few exceptions, Rodriguez got the job done when called upon this season. He finished the regular season 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 27 saves in 44 appearances. He struck out 42 and walked 22 in 42 1/3 innings. Those 27 saves ranked second in the league behind Sugar Land’s Felipe Paulino, who finished with 33. Rodriguez blew four saves this year.