Long Island Ducks starting pitcher Merandy Gonzalez delivers a pitch...

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher Merandy Gonzalez delivers a pitch against the Gastonia Honey Hunters, Sunday, Auguat 13, 2023 at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. Credit: George A Faella

Two home runs by a former Duck and a monster fifth inning were too much to overcome on Sunday night.

The Ducks allowed six runs in the fifth and gave up two homers to David Washington in a 10-7 loss to Gastonia at Fairfield Properties Ballpark. Ducks pitchers struck out 17, but allowed six hits and eight walks.

"Tough night," Ducks manager Wally Backman said. "Threw a couple of bad pitches, a couple of big home runs hurt us."

The Ducks had a 2-0 lead after the second inning and starter Merandy Gonzalez didn’t allow a hit until the fifth.

But Gonzalez, who struck out a season-high eight batters, also walked six, hit a batter and threw just 44 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Gonzalez walked the bases loaded in the fourth before surrendering his first run on a wild pitch.

The Ducks led 2-1 in the fifth before Zach Jarrett laced a two-run triple to centerfield and gave the Honey Hunters a 3-2 lead. Backman replaced Gonzalez with Jake Fishman, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his six previous innings for the Ducks.

Jarrett scored from third on a fielder's choice to put Gastonia ahead 4-2 before Washington mashed a deep three-run home run over the wall of advertisements in rightfield in the ensuing at-bat. A 2-1 lead for the Ducks quickly turned into a 7-2 deficit.

"We know exactly how to pitch him," Backman said about Washington. "If you can't hit your spots or do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to, he's going to hurt you."

Lew Ford, 47, hit a two-run homer to rightfield in the seventh inning, his first homer of the season, to bring the Ducks within 7-4.

"It felt great," Ford said. "Obviously, you don't want to play down like that, but I don't think we were out of it."

Steven Moya drove in Jarrett on an RBI single and Washington hit a two-run homer to leftfield to give Gastonia a 10-4 lead in the top of the ninth.

Ford singled home Trent Taylor in the ninth and Sam Travis drove in two with an RBI single to bring the Ducks within 10-7.

Ford went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Travis went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Boog Powell went 1-for-2 with three walks and two runs.

"We had a chance to win it there in ninth," Ford said. "And that's a pretty good situation."

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