A two-out single by Cody Puckett that drove in Sean Burroughs with the go-ahead run in the fifth inning was the type of timely hitting the Ducks have lacked this season.
Puckett’s hit chased Jon Leicester from the mound. Mike Blanke greeted Tim Sexton with a run-scoring single, and it looked as if the Ducks’ offense finally was getting in the groove.
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The surge was enough to lead the Ducks to a 6-4 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on Thursday night in their home opener at Bethpage Ballpark.
Winning pitcher Bobby Blevins allowed one unearned run and six hits in five innings in a game riddled with errors and other defensive mistakes.
“Things were just falling,” Puckett said. “We’ve been swinging good all week and weren’t finding holes, and today we squeaked them through. That’s big for us to be able to hold them off and get the win right there. They tried to rally in the ninth, and to be able to shut them down was big for our team confidence.”
The Ducks’ Todd Coffey got in a jam as the Blue Crabs put runners on first and third in the ninth, but he regrouped to get the final two outs.
The Ducks (2-6) didn’t get much help from their defense. It was a trend that affected the Blue Crabs (2-6), too.
Delta Cleary Jr. hit a two-run double to leftfield to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead in the second, but the rest of the scoring through the first three innings wasn’t quite as clean.
Fehlandt Lentini led off the bottom of the first with a single, reached second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Burroughs’ single, a line drive to left that Fred Lewis lost in the lights and dropped.
In the second, the Blue Crabs’ Angel Flores hit a broken-bat single to load the bases, and Eric Garcia’s fielder’s choice brought in Jamar Walton to tie it at 1.
In the third, the Blue Crabs’ Michael Snyder reached second on an error, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Walton’s single to make it 3-2.
The Blue Crabs came within one run when Steve Lombardozzi scored on a wild pitch by Patrick Crider in the seventh, but Burroughs drove in Anthony Vega with an infield single for an insurance run in the eighth.
“We hit in the clutch,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “You want to get that attitude of winning close games. It really is a mindset . . . The new season starts today.”