Brantley Bell joined the Ducks on June 6 and has...

Brantley Bell joined the Ducks on June 6 and has nine home runs, 40 RBIs and a .840 OPS in 49 games as of Saturday. Credit: George A Faella

The Ducks are back to where they knew they would be.

Throughout all of the roster changes, streaks and slumps this season, manager Wally Backman hasn’t stopped reminding his clubhouse of what sets it apart from the rest of the Atlantic League.

“The one thing that I’ve told these guys, we’ve got eight big-league guys in the lineup, usually every day offensively. The other teams don’t have that,” Backman said. “They see that, and that’s their opportunity to play against big- league players and try to beat a big-league lineup, basically.

“I would be saying it if I were on the other side.”

Friday night’s Ducks lineup featured six former big-leaguers as well as former Met Robert Stock on the mound.

Backman believes his stable of MLB veterans draws the best out of the Ducks’ competition.

It also attracts talented players who want to try on the Ducks’ uniform. Brantley Bell, a 2015 Cincinnati Reds draft pick who played in Triple-A in 2021 and Double-A earlier this season, is proof.

“I signed here because of the roster, really. I’ve seen a lot of these guys play on TV over the past 10 years, so I wanted to be around them and learn from them,” Bell said. “They’re excellent people, excellent teammates. Outside of what I’d already seen, as far as the play goes, it’s just a fun group of guys to be around, and that was a reason we won the first half.”

Bell joined the Ducks on June 6 and has nine home runs, 40 RBIs and a .840 OPS in 49 games as of Saturday.

After losing 10 of 13 to start the second half of the season, the Ducks swept Spire City in three games, took two of three against Gastonia and won two of three at Spire City.

Of the seven wins the Ducks earned in that nine-game stretch, they won three games with key runs in the eighth inning or later.

“We trust our pitchers to keep us in the game and they trust us to compete every at-bat until the last out’s made,” Bell said. “I don’t feel like we’re ever really out of the game until the last out’s made.”

The Ducks continued that upward trend with a 7-1 win in the first of a three-game series at High Point on Friday.

And the former major-leaguers showed out: Ruben Tejada hit a home run, Wilson Ramos had an RBI triple and Lew Ford had the 500th RBI of his Ducks career, becoming the seventh player in the Atlantic League to reach the milestone.

Stock, who tossed a no-hitter for the Ducks last month, struck out five and allowed one run in eight innings.

After Friday night’s win in High Point, the Ducks are 8-2 in their last 10 games, 11-12 in the second half and 48-38 overall.

From the depths of the North Division at the start of the second half, the Ducks are one of the hottest teams right now.

“We had a lot of good swings when we were going through that [losing] stretch, but it just wasn’t falling in our favor,” Bell said. “We’re getting back to where we knew we would be, so I don’t think it’s anything different from what we’ve been doing. Sometimes you get a little unlucky and sometimes you get lucky.”

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