A Cast of Heroes
Time certainly does fly by if you’re having fun, and the last month for Ducks fans and the organization as a whole has no doubt been an enjoyable one. Tuesday marks the one month anniversary of the Ducks’ 2013 Atlantic League championship victory, a 6-4 win over the Somerset Patriots in Game Five of the Championship Series at TD Bank Ballpark.
On the blog and on Facebook over the weekend, you the fans debated if this year’s title was the “Most Memorable” among Long Island’s three championships, and many of you made several great arguments in favor of the 2013 title. In fact, 2013 has closed the gap in the Fowl Poll on the bottom of the blog page, trailing 2012 by just 10 votes at the time this was posted.
People will always remember Ray Navarrete’s three-run home run in Game Five as the defining moment of the series. They’ll also recall the two outstanding starts by John Brownell in the series that earned him Most Valuable Player honors. However, there were plenty of other heroes in that game, in that series and in the playoffs that undoubtedly need to be recognized for their contributions to the title:
Leo Rosales: It’s safe to say that Leo Rosales has given Ducks fans plenty of scares in his two seasons with the Flock. Bottom line though: He gets the job done. The former big leaguer earned the save in all three of Long Island’s wins in the 2013 Championship Series and the manner in which he did was incredible each time. He had the tying run at first with one out in Game One but got out of trouble. He had the tying run at second with one out in Game Two but closed the door. Then in Game Five, he had the tying run at the plate with runners at first and third and only one out, but induced a pair of fly balls to clinch the title. He simply does not crack under the pressure. Take a look at his two postseasons with the Ducks:
Playoffs: 11 games, 7 saves, 3.27 ERA, 11 innings, 10 strikeouts
Championship Series: 5 games, 3 saves, 3.60 ERA, 5 innings, 4 strikeouts
Lew Ford: It’s not often where your leadoff hitter is the most feared hitter in your lineup. In the 2013 playoffs, Lew Ford was Long Island’s most feared bat. He picked up at least one hit in all five games of the Championship Series and in all seven games he played during the postseason. In fact, he hit safely in 23 of his 24 games played since re-joining the Ducks on August 28. That’s the definition of incredible. Without his game-tying two-run homer in Game Two against Somerset, the Ducks might not win the series. He was 10-for-24 in the series (.417 average) and played superb defense in center field. Of all the players that were signed during the 2013 season, none seemed to have the type of impact that Lew did.
Ryan Strieby: To appreciate the story of Ryan Strieby, think back to May. What initially appeared to be a minor wrist injury suffered sliding into second base at Lancaster turned into a three-month absence to heal a torn ligament. His season could have been lost, and his return seemed uncertain for a while. But without his bat in the postseason, the Ducks may not be celebrating back-to-back titles. The first baseman was an incredible 7-for-12 in the first round, including a historic 4-for-4 performance in Game One and the game-winning two-run single in Game Three. Then, despite starting the Championship Series in an 0-for-13 slump, he picked up five hits in his last six at-bats, including a HUGE walk that set up Navarrete’s three-run homer in Game Five. In a roller coaster season for Strieby, he came up big when needed the most.
Josh Barfield: Barfield’s “moment” as a Long Island Duck came in the eighth inning of Game One against the Patriots. With the Flock trailing by one and hard-throwing Jim Hoey on the mound, the former Major Leaguer drove the first pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left for a three-run homer that would save the Ducks from dropping the series opener at home. It brought what had been a quiet Bethpage Ballpark crowd to a roar and injected an incredible amount of energy into his teammates and the fans. What won’t show up in the box scores throughout the series though was his superb play at second base. He was consistently making diving stops up the middle and to his left for key outs in every game. His defensive value was so critical to the Ducks’ championship run, and that, coupled with his massive home run, is a big reason why the Atlantic League trophy is once again residing on Long Island.
It’s safe to say just about everyone on the Ducks roster had a meaningful impact in leading the Ducks to this year’s title, but these four stood out to us the most. Who else do you think deserves extra recognition for their efforts in the Championship Series/Playoffs? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to cast your ballot in new Fowl Poll question at the bottom of the page.
Posted on October 29, 2013, in Feature Articles and tagged 2013, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Championship, Josh Barfield, Leo Rosales, Lew Ford, Long Island Ducks, Ryan Strieby, Somerset Patriots, TD Bank Ballpark. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.