By: Mike Ashmore (Special to LIDucks.com)
(Central Islip, N.Y., Oct. 1, 2019) - Having the kind of player in your lineup that can change the game with one swing of the bat is the kind of luxury that some Atlantic League teams simply don’t have.
When he can do it twice, especially in a postseason game, that’s something really special.
The Long Island Ducks used two tape-measure home runs by David Washington, as well as a three-run shot by Deibinson Romero, to power their way past the Sugar Land Skeeters, 7-5, in Game 1 of the 2019 Atlantic League Championship Series in front of 3,327 fans at Bethpage Ballpark on Tuesday night.
“It’s big,” said Backman of Washington’s presence in the lineup.
“We don’t have a team like York; that’s real power, that’s serious power. Sugar Land, they’ve got guys with 20-25 home runs. We have one, Washington, he’s the one guy that we can lean on at times when we have to. But, those other eight guys in that order, we’ve got guys that can hit home runs, but they’re not big-time power guys, the pitchers have to make mistakes. Tonight was a big night for ‘Wash,’ but I think Romero really set the tone with his home run. That was the key, getting out front tonight and letting your starter relax a little bit.”
On Tuesday night, Vin Mazzaro didn’t have quite the same stuff that got him through over 28 straight innings without allowing an earned run, but still battled his way through six frames of three-run ball that kept his team in the contest.
“I think when it comes down to it, you’re always one pitch away,” Mazzaro said. “You just focus on making that one pitch you need, and a lot of times you’ll get out of it. I think that was big for me, relaxing and staying within myself and trying to find that one pitch that would work.”
The outing, and the night, weren’t without controversy, however.
In the third inning, with his team down 5-2 at the time, Skeeters manager Pete Incaviglia informed home plate umpire Freddy DeJesus that he was going to play the remainder of the game under protest.
According to DeJesus, Incaviglia’s complaint was that the baseballs that the Skeeters were getting thrown when they were hitting were softer than the ones the Ducks were; the league will rule on the protest prior to noon on Wednesday, but it seems unlikely that it would be upheld at this time.
Through a Skeeters spokesman, Incaviglia declined comment after the game. Mazzaro offered little, saying he only heard about it after he came out of the game, while Backman seemed to question the validity of such a claim.
“Two different balls don’t come out of the same box,” he said. “It’s still the same baseball. I don’t know, maybe Pete’s eyes were playing games on him, I don’t know.”
The protest cast a bit of a cloud over the win, especially yet another standout postseason performance by Washington, whose first homer traveled 429 feet, while his second, which made a resounding thud as it ricocheted high off the batters eye in center field, went a whopping 440 feet.
“I hit those balls really hard, those definitely felt really good, a little different than the ones that just scrape over,” said Washington, who also delivered a multi-homer playoff game against Somerset just last year.
“It just so happens that I’ve got some good pitches to hit, and I’ve put some good swings on them. They could very easily be singles and doubles, and we wouldn’t be talking about it, but I think it’s just a consistent approach without getting too crazy with the big game.”
Backman hopes there’s more to come from his slugger as the stakes get even higher starting with Game 2 on Wednesday night at Bethpage Ballpark at 6:35 PM.
“We knew he had that kind of power,” he said. “We’ve seen him do it in the beginning of the year against this same team, Sugar Land. When ‘Wash’ gets hot, I hope he’s just starting to get hot right now, because he can hit a ball a long way.”