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Sussex County Miners pitcher Frank Duncan reflects on life in baseball

Frank Duncan said he was that guy growing up that wanted to play anything growing up and get his hands on whether it be baseball, basketball, soccer and now golf. It took until Duncan’s junior/senior year of high school to realize baseball was in his future, getting the opportunity to travel and play in some big tournaments.

 

Hailing from San Francisco, California Duncan decided to attend the University of Kansas. In his two years in a Jayhawks uniform Duncan, a right-handed pitcher compiled a 16-21 record including striking out 100 hitters in his sophomore year in 2012 and throwing 118 innings in his senior year.  He was later named to the All-Big 12 First-Team.

 

“I went to Kansas University, a four-year starter there and big for to go somewhere to be pushed to be a better player, said Duncan. I talked to Coach (Ritch) Price and he told we were opening up with TCU who was coming off a College World Series and we had 7,000 people”

 

“You cherish the opportunity to play against the best players in the world and that’s the reason why you play baseball. You get rewarded to push you out of your comfort zone and a big part of my development and everything at KU a big reason I’m the pitcher today”

 

“I was a junior when I was drafted by the (Cleveland) Indians, didn’t sign and felt pretty good about that. Things did not work out as they were supposed to but to get drafted by the (Pittsburgh) Pirates is something you dream about and tell people how special that opportunity is and along the lines hoping to help someone else reach that same goal”

Having played in several professional baseball leagues on the Double and Triple A level, Duncan relished the opportunity to play with other star players and pitch on the mound. “I was a Triple A All-Star in 2016 and got to play with Gary Sanchez and a lot of good talent on the field that night and not on the big stage yet but being there with them and hanging with the best of them pretty cool”

 

“I would be lying if I didn’t believe I could be a big league pitcher one day. At the end of the day whether it’s the Can-Am League or playing in the Atlantic League or American Association it’s all about getting on that mound and showing people you still belong and scouts see you are able to take care of the task at hand and handle your business like a professional and willing to sign guys”

 

Last year Duncan spent time with the Hartford Yard Goats in the Eastern League registering a 3-4 record with a 4.84 ERA.  When the opportunity presented itself this season to remain on the East Coast, Duncan joined the Sussex County Miners.

 

“Bobby Jones had a good history with pitchers’ and being a pitcher himself it was important to go somewhere where I could talk to someone on the mound and pitching staff benefits from that”

 

“I have been around for only a couple of months but we have some seriously devoted fans that make it to every game. A good community to be a part of that welcomed us and we make sure to give back to the community and everyone is one big happy family”

 

“Growing up on the West Coast playing baseball and now on the East Coast, traded from the (Arizona) Diamondbacks to the Pirates and back to the East Coast. I have seen a lot of the country and awesome stadiums, fans and good baseball being played. A part of the journey where you embrace every second and part that makes you whether on or off the field”

 

So far this season Duncan has logged a 3-2 record with a 3.19 ERA and 41 strikeouts but etched into Sussex County Miners and Can-Am League history books is June 13th against the New Jersey Jackals at Yogi Berra Stadium. Duncan threw the second no-hitter in franchise history and ninth in league history. Needing just 89 pitches on the night, Duncan walked one batter and retired the last 24 Jackals hitters in a row.

 

“It was a really cool night, been able to reflect on it and looking at the first couple of innings I focused on forcing a ton of pitches, Duncan said. Anytime you can get outs with the way I pitch through contact and generating ground balls that can get me deep into a game but it’s always about executing pitches and that night better than I have any other night. Anytime you can get locked in and focused on one pitch at a time you are setting yourself up for success. I pride myself in on being a pitcher first than someone who throws the ball harder than anyone else and mix up my pitches to keep hitters off balance”

 

“In baseball it’s important to have a short memory and anything that can go wrong you can make a quick adjustment and get back to track and that night focused on one pitch at a time. The last inning myself and rest of the people in the stadium knew what was close to happening and added a little bit more of pressure. I kind of benefitted from throwing a complete game earlier in the year. Going out and being aggressive and continuing the game plan”

 

“I know when I went 3-0 on the last guy and not executing what I wanted to but was able to come back and throw two good fastballs and two more strikes and good slider where the guy hit a high chopper to third. Funny thing one of the fastest players in the league and hit two exact ground balls to our third baseman(Jarred Mederos) and thought for sure he would beat them out and on that last one said oh no and kind of turned back and looked when the throw was made when it came out low and when Audy(Ciriaco) caught it at first was pretty special”

“That moment with my catcher(Troy Dixon) is something I remember like it was yesterday and kind of blacked out. A great moment especially working with Troy but we were able to get on the same page all night and even in my last start worked really well together and important bond to have with a catcher and results in good things”

 

“Anytime you are able to do that on any level  and on a professional one it means a great deal that everybody you are playing with and played baseball with in the past because it’s something that doesn’t not happen every night and to have everyone celebrating with me and so pumped up because it brings a team closer and special moment you will remember for your career. An absolute blast being with the Miners and got off on a good note and hoping we can continue the momentum and anytime you are winning in any sport it’s a good time and things are going well and everyone is happy”

Named the Can-Am League Pitcher of the Week for his historic accomplishment, instead of gloating about the achievement had this to say about the Can-Am League and advice for upcoming high school and college players;

 

“The Can-Am League has been around for awhile and a lot of good players in and out of the league trying to get back to affiliated ball. If you treat this game no matter what level you are at good things are going to happen”

 

“Bets advice I can give players pursuing their dream tom play professional baseball whether in high school or college is not losing sight about why you play the game of baseball. If you want to play to make a lot of money that’s the wrong reason you don’t make a lot of money unless you are one of the very best. If you are consistent, do your to the best of your ability you are going to play baseball for a long time and goal for everybody”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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