On a muggy Memorial Day night at Spring Hill field the South Oakland Ducks had reason to celebrate. Coming off a somewhat stagnant offensive performance against the Bulldogs last week the Ducks offense exploded to a 8 – 0 thrashing of the visiting Gray Bats including a two-run homer to centerfield from third baseman Jesse Smith and a 2-3 5RBI performance from catcher Chris Dowling. You might think the offense was reason enough to start setting off the fireworks display, but the offensive jolt paled in comparison to Adam Smith’s complete game 2 hit, 8 strikeout shutout. The win improves Smith’s record to 4-1 and drops his ERA to a team best 2.15.
After struggling to find the strike zone during most of the 2008 season sending him to the Duck’s bullpen with a meager 9.50 ERA and even thoughts of retirement, Adam Smith’s return to prominence has been a catalyst to the 8-3 Ducks record, the best start in South Oakland Duck’s baseball history.
To say the Duck’s wouldn’t be in second place in the Monongahela Division and leading the Pittsburgh NABA in wins without him would be an understatement. Smith’s performance has taken pressure and pitch load off of Duck’s fire-balling ace Nick Homa who was pretty much called on for every pressure situation during the 2008 season. And it’s not just Smith who’s pitching well, the Duck’s sport a team ERA of under 3.
Pitching keeps you in games, but you have to score runs to win and with the 2009 Ducks line-up scoring runs hasn’t been much of a problem. The free-agent signings of Chris Dowling and Tony Castle have paid dividends both offensively and defensively. Both sport batting averages well above .400 and are standouts in the field. Mix them in with veterans Ben Gwin, Jesse Smith, Andrew McCray, Chris Wojoton, and that’s a power-lineup that would have any team in the league (minus the Owlz) drooling.
Where the Ducks go from here is hard to tell. With the likes of the Findley Owlz and Brookline Blacksox competing in the same division for a title, it isn’t out of the question that the boys from South Oakland could end up as low as third in the division. On the same note with the talent, timely hitting, and resurgence of Duck’s pitching, a Pittsburgh NABA title is on their minds; and who are a bunch of youngsters from Findley and grizzled veteran’s from Brookline to deny South Oakland of what they deserve.