Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman looks on from the...

Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman looks on from the dugout against the Staten Island FerryHawks in an Atlantic League of Professional Baseball game at Fairfield Properties Ballpark on Sunday, July 2, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Ducks know what it’ll take to advance in the Atlantic League playoffs.

But it won’t be easy traveling to face Lancaster, the defending champions, in the Atlantic League North Division Championship Series.

The Ducks want to play smart and rely on their veteran leadership on the road Tuesday and Wednesday in the first two games of the series.

“I feel good. I think we have the guys to compete for a championship,” Ducks manager Wally Backman said. “We have veterans that can lead. More veterans than most, so hopefully, they step up and do their jobs."

The Ducks then host the Barnstormers in Game 3 of the best-of-five series on Friday as well as Game 4 on Saturday and Game 5 on Sunday, if needed.

The Ducks won Atlantic League championships in 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2019, now eyeing their fifth title.

“That veteran leadership can go a long way," Backman said.

Backman is turning to veteran right-handed pitcher Robert Stock to pitch Game 1 on Tuesday. Stock, a former Met who threw a no-hitter for the Ducks earlier this season, is 9-4 with a 4.40 ERA this year.

Backman said Kyle Lobstein and Ian Clarkin will likely start for the Ducks in Games 2 and 3, respectively.

“It’s going to take a complete team effort,” said outfielder Lew Ford, who won Atlantic League championships with the Ducks in 2019 and 2013. “It starts with the pitching and our defense. And I think if we have good pitching and defense, we’re going to be in good shape.”

The Ducks carry 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their postseason roster. Backman said a healthy, loaded bullpen will help him pull starters early if they’re in trouble this week.

But the Ducks’ veteran presence doesn’t end on the mound. Of Ducks players who played 100 games this year, Alex Dickerson, a six-year MLB outfielder, led the team in batting average (.314), home runs (26) and OPS (.965).

“We know how to turn that switch, the older you get you get that laser-focus,” Dickerson said. “Something you learn over time, especially at the higher levels, is that as pressure comes on you have to breathe more and relax more, and that’s how you prevent the anxiety that causes mistakes.”

It's the 16th time the Ducks have reached the postseason and their seventh playoff appearance in the last eight years.

The Ducks hold a 180-176 all-time record over Lancaster, but the Barnstormers went 13-9 against the Ducks this season.

“They swing the bat early, they run the bases hard, they try to put pressure on the defense and they have a strong bullpen,” Ford said. “It would be great to win two games over there."

More LI Ducks

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months