By: Mike Ashmore, special to LIDucks.com
(Central Islip, N.Y., Sept. 28, 2018) - Hope and history.
Despite being down 2-0 in the best-of-five Atlantic League Championship Series against the Sugar Land Skeeters heading into Friday night’s Game Three at Bethpage Ballpark, the Long Island Ducks have plenty of both on their side.
This year’s AtLCS has gotten off to an eerily similar start to the 2016 Liberty Division Championship Series when the Ducks faced off with the rival Somerset Patriots.
An extra-innings loss on the road in Game One. A blowout loss in Game Two.
Long Island fans certainly wouldn’t mind a similar ending; the Ducks came all the way back to win the next three games and capture the series.
“I think the guys that have been here realize that when you’re down 2-0, it’s not over,” said hitting coach/outfielder Lew Ford. “We can do it, and we’ve done it before. You’ve still got to take it one game at a time, obviously we need a win tonight, tomorrow and then you just try to get to that Game Five and have a chance to win it there.”
That feeling of familiarity was part of manager Kevin Baez’s message to his team, but having been through this situation before, he also knows that the focus needs to just be on Game Three, and not pulling off another miraculous comeback just yet.
“There’s all the clichés, but we can’t control Sunday. We can control today and try to put a good effort in,” he said.
“Hopefully, we get a good outing by (Game Three starter Lorenzo) Barcelo, let the bats come alive. Anything can happen. We were up 0-2 just last series against Somerset and they came back and forced a Game Five. We know we’re going up against a good team – same thing with Somerset – and we’ve got to come ready to go. Whoever executes the pitch, makes the big play, gets the big hit when need be, that’s how you win ballgames in playoff baseball.”
“We just have to make sure that we don’t make this game bigger than what it is,” added veteran infielder Dan Lyons. “We just have to go out here and play the way that we did at the end of the regular season. I think the key is not putting too much pressure on ourselves and I think if we do that, we’ve got a good shot at winning today."
That the series has shifted back to Bethpage Ballpark is also significant. The Ducks captured 40 of their 69 victories on the season at home, while the Skeeters were just 29-24 on the road.
“It’s huge,” Lyons said. “It’s tough going down to Sugar Land, especially with the travel that we have. Coming back here, I think we’ve been comfortable here all season long. There’s a familiarity with this field and with these fans that I think is definitely to our advantage.”
“Sugar Land plays very well at home, they had the best home record in the regular season, and it’s tough to win down there,” added Ford. “But, we play well at home too. Now it’s our turn to take a shot at it at home. It’s great to have guys that have done it before. Hopefully, we’re going to have confidence going into this game tonight and come out and play well. It’s not over yet. We’re still in this, we’ve still got a game and we’re still going on the field. It’s not over, and the guys know that.”