The Ducks' first half was nothing short of historical. Their 46 victories were the most in a half in their 16 years. But it still wasn't enough.
The Somerset Patriots, who won both halves last season and kept the Ducks out of the playoffs, won 50 games and the Liberty Division first-half title, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Atlantic League playoffs.
Now, the Ducks must either win the second half or grab a wild-card spot, which kicks in only if either Somerset or Southern Maryland, winner of the Freedom Division's first round, win its division again in the second half.The Ducks, who opened the second half against Somerset this weekend, play the Patriots seven more times in July.
Kevin Baez, in his fifth season as manager, talks about the team:
What was most impressive to you about the way the team played in the first half?
Our offense clicked. We got pitching and defense. When you talk about winning baseball, you talk about having two out of the three and, at times, we were getting all three on a consistent basis. Our bullpen was outstanding . . . The break came and I think guys were a little taxed. Our bullpen was getting overused. It came at a good time to re-energize and get it going in the second half.
You played so well, but Somerset won the first half.
It was very frustrating. It was like 'what do we have to do?' One thing I preached to the guys was to control what you could control. You can only control today's game. That's all you can do. With that said, we wanted a chance to play the last three games of the half against Somerset with our fate in our hands. We just wanted a situation where we could help our cause. We didn't do that on that Sugar Land trip [losing five out of six from June 23-28]. We didn't allow ourselves to come back home within three games of Somerset.
You play Somerset seven more times in the next three weeks, starting Sunday.
If you look at the schedule, you want to get to a good start, whether it's the first half or the second half. I told the guys in spring training that the games in late April and early May were important because you don't want to say 'what if?' The same thing applies to the second half. You want to get off to a good start. Yes, Somerset is in our division, we do play them a lot, and they won the first half. So it would be nice to get off to a good start. But there are a lot of games after that.
Next Up: Ducks at Somerset, 5:05 p.m.