Somerset at Ducks
The kick wasn't as high; neither was the level of competition. But the
pitching philosophy last night for Ducks newcomer Apolinar Garcia was the same
as that of the Hall of Famer who signed him, high-kicking former Giants
righthander Juan Marichal. "He always said that any pitch you throw, throw for
a strike," Garcia said. Lesson learned.
Garcia, acquired last week from Atlantic City, ended the nine-game winning
streak of the Somerset Patriots with 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball as the Ducks
defeated the Atlantic League South Division leaders, 3-1, before a crowd of
6,165, the 40th straight sellout at EAB Park.
"As soon as I got here, everybody was like a family. They made me feel
comfortable," said Garcia, who struck out seven, walked just one and allowed
five hits in raising his record to 10-8. In fact, one Duck was family.
Righthander Delfino Mejia is Garcia's cousin, and he gave his relative proper
relief, escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh and striking out
four before turning it over to Matt Wagner, who gained his league-leading 33rd
save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Another familiar Duck was catcher Francisco Morales. "I know him. We're
both from the Dominican," Garcia said. "He has caught me before and he did a
good job calling pitches."
Whatever pitch Morales called for, Garcia hit the target. "I got ahead,"
Garcia said. "I had good control of my curve, my fastball and my slider."
Manager Bud Harrelson had praise for yet another pitch. "He mixed it up
good, even throwing a few changeups," said Harrelson, whose team retained a
three-game lead on Bridgeport in the North Division second-half pennant race.
Somerset won the first-half title and leads by five games in the second half,
making it likely they will receive a bye into the Atlantic League championship
The Ducks hope to outlast Bridgeport, whom they play seven times in their
final 14 games, for the right to face first-half champion Nashua in a
first-round playoff series. Garcia is excited at that prospect.
"When I came here, I told the owner [Frank Boulton] that I want a ring,"
the righthander said. "I love pitching in pennant races. I came here to win.
This is a good, happy team."
That is because the Ducks are also a winning team, owning the best overall
record in the league thanks to timely pitching and hitting. "We're a pesky
team," Harrelson said with a knowing smirk.
The Ducks kill their opponents softly. Take the first inning, for example.
Adonis Harrison slapped a seeing-eye single between third and short, Tim
Garland walked and Andre Keene singled to left. Bases loaded, none out. Big
inning brewing? Not exactly.
Morales was credited with an RBI single when his pop-up to short center was
lost in the dusky sky by centerfielder Mike Warner and shortstop Randy Brown.
Lorenzo Bagley's well-hit sacrifice fly to deep right scored another run.
Bagley provided insurance with a solo homer in the sixth, which was more than
enough thanks to Garcia and his extended "family."