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Ducks earn sixth straight victory

Long Island Ducks' Steve Lombardozzi watches the flight

Long Island Ducks' Steve Lombardozzi watches the flight of his home run against the York Revolution, Sunday, July 18, 2021, at Fairfield Properties Ballpark. Credit: George A Faella

The Ducks were looking for this kind of week, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. After a month and a half of fits and starts that left the defending Atlantic League champions dangerously close to the .500 mark, they have gotten on a roll.

They won their sixth straight game Sunday, a 15-7 victory over the York Revolution at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. It clinched an undefeated homestand and moved them eight games above .500 and 3 ½ games ahead of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Atlantic League North Division first-half standings.

"I think we’re getting timely hitting. We’re getting guys on base, guys are running, stealing bags, and then we’re getting clutch hitting. It’s kind of all coming together and the pitching’s been awesome, too," Steve Lombardozzi said.

Lombardozzi went 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs, two runs and a walk. "I was just trying to be aggressive there," he said of his homer. "I was seeing the ball good early in the game. I was looking for something up, got a good pitch and drove it."

Breland Almadova went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, two runs and a walk. Wading River native Nick Bottari, whom the Ducks signed Friday, went 2-for-3 with a run, his first hits as a professional ballplayer.

Ducks starter Scott Harkin settled down after a rocky first inning and earned the win. The righthander, who was virtually untouchable in his first two outings with the Ducks, allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked three.

After York greeted Harkin with two bloop singles to start the game, Melky Mesa launched a mammoth three-run home run to leftfield. Harkin didn’t record an out until the sixth batter but got out of the inning with only the homer on his ledger.

"Out of the six hits, four of them were jam shots. He battled tonight," manager Wally Backman said. "He knew he was giving up those bloopers. He made a bad pitch to Mesa and Mesa’s been on fire. The first couple innings, that was the only ball that was hit hard."

York, which committed four errors, scored a run in the second but couldn’t find any further success against Harkin in his final three innings.

The Ducks scored two runs in the second and then exploded for five runs in the fourth. Vladimir Frias’ single drove in Commack native Jesse Berardi to tie it at 4. Lombardozzi followed with a two-run double and Deibinson Romero had an RBI single to give the Ducks a 7-4 lead.

They added seven more runs in the sixth. Lombardozzi hit his sixth homer of the season to give the Ducks a 9-4 lead and relief pitcher Chris Reed’s sacrifice bunt was mishandled, allowing L.J. Mazzilli to score. Daniel Fields and Almadova followed with RBIs to extend the Ducks’ lead to 10 runs.

Now the Ducks (27-19) head to Kentucky to play arguably their biggest series of the first half against the best team in the Atlantic League — the Lexington Legends.

Said Backman, "I really think the team’s starting to come together."

Lexington entered Sunday at a league-best 28-15. The Legends led the league in home runs (70), slugging (.515), average (.291) and OPS (.908). The Ducks won three of four against them during a rain-soaked opening weekend in May, spitting one double-leader and sweeping another.

"I think we’re better than Lexington," Backman said before Sunday’s game. "I think we have to prove it. I think we proved it here at home at the start of the year."  

New York Sports