2006-07-20 / Columnists

Fowl Ball! Weekly report on the DUCKS

Ducks Players Enjoy the All-Star Experience
by Jason Eisenberg

On a night with severe rain, lightning, and reports of tornadoes across the tri-state area, the stars of the Atlantic League still managed to shine at the ninth annual All-Star Game. This year's event was held in the Harbor Yard ballpark, home of the Bridgeport Bluefish, and was broadcasted live on local television as well as over the internet.

Seven players from the Long Island Ducks were on hand to play for the North Division team, including Bucky Jacobsen, Mel Stocker, Carlos Hernandez, Tony Schrager, Pat Mahomes, Pat Ahearne and late addition, Brad King (replacing Erick Almonte who was unable to participate). However, they were not alone in representing Long Island, as a large amount of Ducks fans also made the trip to Bridgeport in order to support the players from their favorite team.

Leading off the evening's schedule was the Home Run Derby, and First Baseman Bucky Jacobsen was the lone Duck among the ten participants. Most people would have considered Jacobsen, who leads the Atlantic League in home runs, to be the odds-on favorite, but Bucky was only able to hit two out of the park and finished in a tie for fifth place. "This actually snapped a streak of like three-in-a-row of these that I had won so I am a little disappointed to be honest," Jacobsen said, "Unfortunately I just never really got anything going, but I do enjoy this kind of contest and can't wait for the next time to redeem myself." Clyde Williams of the Atlantic City Surf eventually won the competition, which was stopped temporarily at one point because of a downpour but finished without additional interruptions.

The night's main event got underway about half an hour late thanks to the earlier rain delay, but it was worth the wait, as the battle between the North and South divisions quickly developed into a pitchers duel for most of the game. In fact, the game was scoreless until the sixth inning. Ducks pitcher Pat Mahomes helped keep the game scoreless during his one inning of work. There was some surprise that Mahomes was available to pitch after leading Long Island to the first-half division title by throwing two complete games in consecutive starts during the past week. The former Met had some early trouble as three of the first four batters in the third inning singled to load the bases. However, just as he has for the Ducks, Mahomes came up big at the right time, striking out the next hitter and getting a groundout to end the inning.

Two Ducks players, Outfielder Mel Stocker and Shortstop Tony Schrager, were in Bluefish manager Dave Lapoint's starting lineup for the North Division. Both players got three at-bats and remained in the game until the late innings. Stocker went 0 for 3 at the plate but reached base on an error in the eighth inning and made his presence felt with two consecutive steals. "It was very exciting because this was my first time playing in an All Star game but it was also great to be around a lot of the best players in this league, many of which have played at the major league level," says Stocker, who at 25 years old, is one of the youngest players on the Ducks roster. "As for stealing bases, that is my job and is one of the things I do best. I am always aggressive on the bases with the Ducks and I was the same way tonight because even though it is an All Star game, it is for bragging rights so you still want to win."

After coming up empty in his first two at-bats, Tony Schrager, who led the league's shortstops in batting during the first half, hit a long double to the outfield wall in the sixth inning. "The whole experience was great even with the tough weather conditions," Schrager said, "Bridgeport gave us a nice banquet the night before the game and then it was an honor for me to be in the starting lineup." As for the hit, Schrager, just like everybody else watching, thought it had a chance of going out for a home run but he will gladly take the double. "My grandma was at the game and for some reason her favorite hit is the double so it actually made us both happy," Schrager said

The other three Ducks, Bucky Jacobsen, Carlos Hernandez and Catcher Brad King, all got the chance to enter the game as pinch hitters but each of them went 0 for 1 in their lone at-bats. "It was great to make it here to the All-Star game for the second year in a row," Hernandez says, "You get to be around all the stars of the league and even though you want to do well and win every game you play in, this is still about putting on a show for the fans." Brad King was not originally named to the All-Star team but was very excited when he was told the news about being added. "It was great to know that I would be able to participate in this and of course the opportunity to come over with so many of my teammates from the Ducks made it even more special," says King, "There are a lot of great players in this league from both our division and the other one, so it made for quite an interesting game."

The only Duck selected for the All-Star team who did not get into the game was pitcher Pat Ahearne. Ahearne had missed his last start with the Ducks and was being held out for a few more days because of a health issue unrelated to baseball. According to Ahearne, everything has been corrected and he is feeling better so he will return to the mound for the Ducks this week, but he really wanted to go to Bridgeport and be a part of the All-Star festivities. "I had a good time even though I couldn't play," says Ahearne "I wanted to join my Ducks teammates but also it was nice to come back to Bridgeport and see some of the fans from when I played here last year."

As for the result of the game, the South division took the victory over the North in the game with a final score of 4-1. Clyde Williams, after already winning the Home Run Derby, took home the MVP award for the All-Star game as well, going 3 for 4 at the plate with two singles and a solo home run.

EXTRA INNINGS:

The Ducks have started the second half the same way they finished the first half, by sweeping their three game series over the weekend from the Road Warriors. The team has now won 15 of their last 16 games overall and nine straight at Citibank Park. Both of these streaks are the best in Ducks franchise history.

 After three more home games this week against Atlantic City (Tuesday-Thursday), the Ducks head out on the road for a six game trip that will take them to Newark and to Bridgeport.

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