By: Mike Ashmore, special to

(Central Islip, N.Y., Sept. 30, 2018) – The Long Island Ducks are exactly one week removed from perhaps the most stressful Game 5 they’ve had in franchise history.

So, is it then fair to expect more of the same on Sunday, especially with the Atlantic League Championship on the line?

“Stressful? Not necessarily stressful,” said Ducks manager Kevin Baez.

“This is an opportunity, don’t look at it that way. This is an opportunity to play the game, have fun with it. If you think about it too much, it’s going to be stressful. So, you try to go out there, you try to be relaxed and that’s the message to the guys. Just go out there and play the game. You leave it on the field. If you can look in the mirror at the end of the game, that’s all you can do. Just go out there, want to be in that moment, and love the opportunity.”

The Ducks made the most of their opportunity against the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division Championship Series; they took a wild, back-and-forth Game 5 at TD Bank Ballpark last Sunday to advance the finals against the Skeeters, only to drop the first two games in Sugar Land.

However, Long Island has fought back at home – just like Somerset did against them last week – and is hoping to complete the improbable comeback starting at 5:05 PM. The momentum is decidedly in the Ducks favor, especially after a dominant 6-3 win on Saturday that didn’t seem as close as the final score would indicate.

The Skeeters jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a first inning RBI double off the bat of Matt Chavez, but a failed double steal during that same at-bat that ultimately limited Sugar Land to just one run seemed to turn the in-game momentum towards the home dugout. Six runs in the first three innings later, and it was rather apparent that was the case.

“Especially in their first inning when we were pitching, there were some hard-hit balls,” Baez said. “(Catcher Ramon) Cabrera made a great throw to third and threw him out, stopped the big inning and they only scored one. Then their pitcher, (Dallas) Beeler, had a rough first inning with a couple of passed balls, and we took advantage. I know he gave up two the next inning, but they both settled down. (Ducks starter Dennis) O’Grady definitely settled down, started to keep the ball down with good, late movement. They’re an aggressive hitting team, so we got a lot of quick outs as well.”