Homers have been coming easy for CGA's Duncan

Coast Guard's Timbo Duncan dives safely back to first on a pickoff attempt by Wesleyan during Wednesday's game at New London. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

New London — Coast Guard Academy senior Timbo Duncan, whose new nickname is the Dinger King, was asked if he thinks about hitting home runs during at-bats.

Duncan smiled and said: "Who doesn't want to hit a home run?"

During his career, Duncan has turned thoughts into actions, setting the baseball program's single season mark and needing just one home run to own the school's career record.

Duncan slugged his record-setting seventh home run this season in Tuesday's 13-7 loss to Wheaton.

"I knew it was in me," Duncan said. "The biggest thing for me is just to go up and hit and not try to hit a home run. When I try to hit a home run, I'll strike out or roll-over."

He nearly passed Gregg McHenry, a 1988 graduate, to take over the career mark in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 11-9 victory over Wesleyan. But his deep fly ball died just in front of the left-field fence for an out.

Eight regular season games remain for Duncan to deliver his record-setting 16th of his career. It's doable, he said.

"In a perfect world, I could hit a home run in every at-bat," Duncan said. "But who actually does that, right? Ideally, I'd like to hit at least a couple more. ... I know I can do it."

Preferably, he'd like to accomplish the feat as soon as possible.

His father, Timbo, a Dallas police officer, is heading home this weekend after an extended visit. He watched his son drill two home runs and drive in three runs in a 13-4 loss to Springfield on Saturday.

"He's been a lucky charm," Duncan said. "He and my mom and all of her sisters were up here. That game I got lucky and hit two home runs. I was closing my eyes and swinging. ... I've been real fortunate to have them up here, especially for the last little run of the season."

Chances are Duncan, whose batting .253 and leads the team in RBI with 23, has a few long blasts still left in his bat. He reached this power point playing just three seasons for the Bears, sitting out as a freshman because of a shoulder injury.

The left-handed batting Duncan found his groove this season after dipping to just two home runs as a junior. He drilled six as a sophomore to tie the single-season mark.

"Last year, he struggled," said coach C.C. Grant, who recruited Duncan to play football at Coast Guard. "It was like everybody knows who you are and you have to prove that you can hit and he really didn't. Somewhere this year, he found that home run swing."

Duncan's power surge has been one of the highlights this season for the Bears (12-16), who've experienced growth while dealing with their share of injuries.

Coast Guard rode a potent attack to victory on Wednesday. A senior from Pawcatuck, Brendan McNeil belted a grand slam to highlight a six-run first inning. Junior Zach Serna doubled, homered and had three RBI.

The long journey is almost over for Duncan.

"It's definitely been up and down," Duncan said of his CGA experience. "It's definitely a fun place to be at, but it's also very, very taxing at times. You've always got to keep the big picture in mind and the end goal."

After graduation, Duncan and two teammates, McNeil and Luke Sniatkowski, will start their Coast Guard careers in Seattle.

Duncan, who played almost every position during his career, will be missed for more than just his home runs, according to Grant.

"You're not going to find a nicer kid...," Grant said. "Almost every time I see him, he's got a smile on his face. I just love having him around because he's so good-natured."

g.keefe@theday.com

Coast Guard's Brendan McNeil, right, is greeted at home plate by Kyle Moore (24) and Timbo Duncan (14) after hitting a grand slam in Wednesday's game against Wesleyan at New London. Pawcatuck's McNeil is a former New London High School standout. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Coast Guard's Brendan McNeil, right, is greeted at home plate by Kyle Moore (24) and Timbo Duncan (14) after hitting a grand slam in Wednesday's game against Wesleyan at New London. Pawcatuck's McNeil is a former New London High School standout. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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