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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Ducks Season! Ducks Defeat Lancaster Stormers in 2024 Home Opener


Long Island’s flagship baseball team, the Long Island Ducks, started their 2024 season strong with a 6-2 win against the Lancaster Stormers in their home opener.

Fans, vendors, and elected officials descended on Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip last Thursday to enjoy the first home game of the season, get their up-to-date Ducks merchandise, and enjoy the tables and services of the vendors in the stadium corridors.

The game was dedicated to Bud Harrelson, a former shortstop, coach, and manager who played for the New York Mets from 1965 to 1977. Harrelson was also a co-owner and coach for the Long Island Ducks. Sadly, Harrelson passed away at his home in East Northport in January following a battle with Alzheimer’s.

The game opened with a retrospective on his life and his invaluable contributions to the Ducks organization. A moment of silence was held in his memory before the singing of the National Anthem.

To boot, the game’s first pitch was ceremoniously thrown by Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches).

“This is our Long Island team, this is Suffolk County at its best,” Romaine told The Messenger while wearing his Ducks jersey. “Everyone here, the kids and the parents, are having a great time. If anyone wants to have a great time, come out and watch a Ducks game.”

The Messenger also discussed the opening day celebrations with Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter (R-West Islip), whose grandson participated in the event as a Junior Duck.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am. This is always a big night in the Town of Islip,” said Supervisor Carpenter. “The Ducks have been here for decades. The families who are here love the team and the stadium looks pristine and beautiful as always. We need to thank Frank Boutlon for his vision in bringing this team to Suffolk County, and especially the Town of Islip.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game was the return of Huntington native Stephen Woods, Jr. A graduate of Half Hollow Hills East High School in Dix Hills, Woods, Jr. signed with the Ducks in 2023 as a starting pitcher. He made six starts and posted a 4–0 record and 3.03 ERA with 31 strikeouts. He was then named the ALPB Co–Pitcher of the Month for April and May alongside Mitch Lambson of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Woods made 11 total starts for the Ducks with a 7–2 record and 3.77 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 59 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Woods also represented Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Woods’ contract was then purchased by the Fubon Guardians of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in July 2023. The 2024 Ducks season sees Woods return to the flock and the home opener saw Woods start the game at the mound.

The Ducks would then defeat Lancaster 11-3 in the second game of a four-game series on Friday night. Saturday would see the Ducks defeat Lancater again 7-6, while Lancaster managed to claw back the final game on Sunday night 13-4.

The Ducks opened the scoring with a double from Ivan Castillo, followed by an error by the Stormers that allowed Jackie Bradley, Jr. to reach base and the Ducks to score a run.

Lancaster then tied the game with two runs in the fifth inning off an RBI single by Isan Diaz and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Niko Hulsizer.

The Ducks then took back the lead with the bases by Hector Gomez and a sacrifice fly from Chance Cisco.

The Ducks then added two more runs to grow the lead to 6-2 with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, courtesy of an RBI groundout to third base by Gomez and an RBI fielder’s choice by Scott Kelly.

Woods, Jr. threw four and one-third innings of two-run ball, while allowing five hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. Five Ducks relievers collectively pitched four and two-thirds innings, preventing the Stormers from scoring. The collaborative effort allowed four hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts.

The Ducks’ home opening game featured some other community appearances as well, including, but not limited to, Frank Boulton, founder and owner of the Long Island Ducks, President and CBO Michael Pfaff, and of course, QuackerJack, who recently retained the title of best Long Island team mascot.

Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.