The turning of the tide in the Atlantic League Liberty Division continues.
The Ducks dropped seven of their first 10 games against the division rival Somerset Patriots, but since then, the fortunes of the two teams have changed. The Ducks outlasted the Patriots for the first-half championship, and in their first series of the second half, they finished off a sweep Sunday with a 7-5 win in front of 5,409 fans at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
It is the first time since August 2014 that the Ducks have swept Somerset.
Cody Puckett hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs. Former Met Ruben Gotay had two hits.
Ducks starter Bruce Kern, a Yaphank native, backed up his recent All-Star selection with a solid, albeit short, performance. Kern allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in five innings, striking out four. He left the game with back spasms but said they were not serious and will “absolutely not” miss his next start.
“It just felt a little tight,” he said. “I just had a long week, with a start on Sunday [July 10], an inning in the All-Star Game [Wednesday], and then a start today. I think I was just a little bit dehydrated. I didn’t want to push it because we had a big lead . . . If it was a close game, I would have stuck it out.”
The Ducks (7-2) scored four runs in the third to take a 6-0 lead, keyed by Puckett’s opposite-field home run.
Kern held Somerset (5-5) hitless until the fourth, when David Vidal hit a two-run homer to cut the Ducks’ lead to 6-2.
Rocky Point’s Danny Burawa pitched a scoreless seventh in his Ducks debut. Burawa loaded the bases but induced an inning-ending double play.
Eric Farris’ two-run home run off Eury De La Rosa in the top of the eighth made it 6-4. Mark Minicozzi hit a towering home run in the bottom of the inning to extend the lead to 7-4.
Somerset scored a run off Ducks closer Todd Coffey in the ninth, but the former major-leaguer struck out Aharon Eggles ton to strand the tying run at first.
Notes & quotes: Tyler Colvin was activated after the game, Ducks president and general manager Mike Pfaff said. Colvin has missed the last 31 games with a hip injury. Colvin, who spent six seasons with the Cubs, Rockies and Giants, hit .253 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 23 games (91 at-bats).