The Ducks finally got a look at their new rings and their new ace.
The Ducks' 14th home opener on Long Island kicked off with a pregame ceremony Friday night celebrating their Atlantic League championship before all eyes turned to Dontrelle Willis. The 31-year-old pitcher had his debut cut short after he suffered a cracked fingernail early in the game, but the Ducks went on to defeat the Sugar Land Skeeters, 10-5, at Bethpage Ballpark.
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Willis, the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star, tossed 22/3 innings, threw 29 of 52 pitches for strikes and allowed one earned run, three hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Willis said he will make his next start.
"I made some mistakes but made some good pitches," he said. "I'm glad my ball is moving. I really had a good time. It's been a long time since I had fun out there pitching."
He was one of three big- name signings the Ducks made earlier this month, along with Ramon Castro and Vladimir Guerrero, who remains in the Dominican Republic for personal reasons. Castro, a former Mets catcher, didn't disappoint in his Central Islip debut. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the first that tied the score at 1 and a three-run home run that gave the Ducks a 4-3 lead during an eight-run third inning.
Danny Perales, who led off the third with a single, capped the inning with a grand slam to increase the lead to 9-3. Adam Bailey went 2-for-4, including an RBI triple in the seventh for a 10-5 lead.
When the Ducks last played at Bethpage Ballpark, Dan Lyons delivered a walk-off bunt single to drive in the winning run in the fifth and deciding game of the championship series. Lyons received his series MVP trophy during the pregame ceremony, which was capped with the banner being raised over the scoreboard.
The loudest ovation of all came when longtime Duck Ray Navarrete came out to accept his championship ring.
"We all waited a long time for this," Navarrete said of getting his ring. "I think I'm going to rock it all weekend with the guys."