What a difference a week makes. Only seven days after sweeping the Somerset Patriots, the Ducks suffered their third consecutive loss to their Liberty Division rivals, falling 8-5 Sunday night at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip.
"It's frustrating because it seems like we're in every game and it's always coming down to late [in the game], whether it's a pitch here or a play there," manager Kevin Baez said. "They're not just losses, they're eat-at-you losses. They're devastating. That's what's so hard."
Late came in the eighth inning Sunday. The Ducks led 4-3 entering the frame, but the Patriots scored five runs off Tommy Organ and Sergio Perez to take the lead for good. After Luis Montanez doubled to tie the score, he moved to third on a fly ball off the bat of Brian Barden. After a weak ground ball to first by Kevin Kotch, Joash Brodin threw home, but Montanez slid under a tag attempt by Ducks catcher Jan Vazquez. Three batters later, Corey Harrilchak crushed a three-run home run to give the Patriots an 8-4 lead.
Organ allowed three of the five eighth-inning runs and took the loss.
Adam Bailey hit two home runs in the defeat. The first, a two-run shot with two outs in the first inning drove in Brendan Harris and put the Ducks ahead 2-0. His second, a solo shot in the ninth, cut the Patriot lead to three. Bailey has nine RBIs and three home runs in his last six games.
"I'm just trying to see the ball early and get pitches I can handle," Bailey said. "I don't care right now if I strike out or not. Early in the season, I was worried about it and now I really don't care."
Patriots reliever Mike DeMark earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Ducks starter Bobby Blevins pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits.
The Ducks, who are in the middle of seven consecutive games against Somerset, are now seven games behind the Patriots in the Liberty Division second-half race with four weeks left in the regular season. The Patriots won the first half, earning an automatic bid to the playoffs. To join Somerset (27-18) in the postseason, the Ducks (21-24) will have to win the second-half title or grab a wild-card spot. They are two games back of the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Lancaster Barnstormers for the second wild-card spot.