The Ducks believe that, at some point, a run is coming. So far, they have been a group in search of separation. Yes, the level of panic is low, as it should be. Tied for first place at the start of play Wednesday in the Atlantic League North, the hunt for another division title is very much on.
"We got 18 left [in the first half], Ryan Jackson said. "I think it’s a good boost for us. We have six games at home [this week], so I think it’s inevitable for us to go on a run so we make sure we clinch that first half."
But that’s where the separation comes in. Winning streaks have been hard to come by. The Ducks have only won three games in a row once, and never four. That’s a recipe for letting entire divisions hang around, a dangerous proposition in a half-season playoff format.
Perhaps the West Virginia Power, the worst team in the Atlantic League, can be the spark that ignites the Ducks, just in time for a very important stretch of the schedule that will see them play the best team in the league — the Lexington Legends — next week.
The Ducks topped the Power, 11-7, at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip Wednesday night, starting yet another winning streak that they hope can extend past three games.
Ducks starting pitcher Joe Iorio allowed three runs, eight hits, struck out three, and walked one in five innings. It was a step in the right direction for Iorio, who was coming off two bad outings.
"He was better," manager Wally Backman said of his starter. "He slowed his body down a little bit. I thought he did fine. He got into some deep counts. He threw  pitches in five innings, just too many pitches, not enough early contact off him, but absolutely better today."
The Ducks fell behind 2-1 in the top of the third inning, but took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom half. 44-year old Lew Ford smashed an RBI double that drove in Vladimir Frias and tied the score at 2. Two batters later, Jackson’s two-run double drove in Ford and L.J Mazzilli to put the Ducks (23-19) up 4-2.
"I’ve been scuffling, so I was just trying to get something to the right side," Jackson said. "Got a couple sliders away, was trying to stay back, and I was able to square one up and get one to fall through."
Steve Lombardozzi’s RBI triple in the fourth drove in Daniel Fields and pushed the Ducks lead to 5-2. West Virginia added their third run in the fifth when Alberto Callaspo’s single drove in Breland Almadova.
The Ducks bullpen ran into trouble, but avoided the big blow, in the sixth. Reliever Chris Reed loaded the bases without recording an out and was pulled for Brady Dragmire, who worked out of the jam with only one inherited runner scoring and the Ducks still ahead 5-4.
The Ducks got that run right back, when Ben Farias’ RBI double in the bottom half of the sixth gave the Ducks a 6-4 lead. The Ducks scored two more runs in the seventh to take an 8-4 lead. West Virginia scored twice in the eighth, but Sal Giardina’s three-run home run in the bottom of the inning gave the Ducks their final bit of breathing room.
Notes & quotes: Mazzilli’s hit streak ended at 19 games, six short of the franchise record. He walked in the third inning to extend his on-base streak to 20.