Capture First Half flag before break
The last time the Long Island Ducks won the North Division First Half championship, they had to sweep the Bluefish in Bridgeport in a series that began during the second week of July and didn't officially end until approximately one month later. That was during the magical 2004 season, in which the team won the Atlantic League title. This time, they beat out their rival once again. But it was done in a more conventional way.
For those with short memories, two seasons ago the last game before the All-Star break was tied in the ninth inning when the Connecticut skies opened up. With the division still up for grabs, the league decided to schedule a make-up game 'for all the marbles.' To fit this important game in to both teams' schedules, it had to take place on August 9th. The Ducks prevailed and the rest is history.
In 2006, the Ducks and Bluefish went toe-to-toe since opening day and have been one and two in the division. The Ducks clinched the division by going 12-1 down the stretch and beat out Bridgeport by one game. Lefthanded starting pitcher Bill Pulsipher was the winning pitcher in the deciding game, raising his record to 2-0 in his first two starts. Pulse returned to the Ducks recently and had been a big part of the staff in 2004 and 2005.
The Ducks have received major contributions from many players and had seven named to the All-Star team. Infielders Bucky Jacobsen, Carlos Hernandez, Tony Schrager and Eric Almonte; outfielder Mel Stocker; and pitchers Pat Mahomes and Pat Ahearn all were selected to represent the North.
Since the start of the season, six members of the Flock have been signed by major league organizations. Schrager is the most recent. Preceding him were outfielder Dominick Ambrosini, closer Todd Erdos, and starting pitchers Ryan Jensen, Andrew Lorraine and Nelson Figueroa.
Riding the wave, the Ducks have been able to maintain a good balance by signing players since April, including Pulsipher, who have had major league experience. Outfielder Juan Gonzalez is the most known, but he has had trouble staying healthy. Pitchers Tony Fiore, Kevin Tolar and Damien Moss were picked up to replace some of the departed arms.
The 39 first half wins was one shy of the team record obtained in 2004. If the 2006 team can capture some of the magic from the championship season, the playoffs at the end of September cannot come fast enough.