Deibinson Romero’s go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning lifted the Ducks — and halted a potentially series-opening collapse — in Game 1 of the best-of-five Liberty Division Championship Series on Tuesday night. The Ducks, despite blowing a six-run lead in the seventh, defeated the High Point Rockers, 8-7, at BB&T Point in High Point, North Carolina.
The Ducks scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 7-1 lead, but the Rockers stormed back with six runs in the bottom half to tie the score. The Ducks’ bullpen, which was considered a strength entering the postseason, could not hold the lead for starter Darin Downs, who allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.
The Rockers sent former Duck John Brownell to the mound in the playoff opener. Brownell, who spent seven seasons on Long Island and holds many of the franchise’s pitching records, allowed seven runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked eight.
The Ducks scored four runs off Brownell in the third inning. Vladimir Frias’ RBI triple drove in David Washington to break the scoreless tie. Later in the inning, Steve Lombardozzi doubled to drive in Frias and D’Arby Myers and give the Ducks a 3-0 lead. L.J. Mazzilli’s sacrifice fly drove in Rey Fuentes to put the Ducks ahead by four. They added one more in the sixth.
The win began the franchise’s quest for their fourth title and first since 2013. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night in High Point. Game 3 is Friday at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip and Games 4 and 5, should they be necessary, are Saturday and Sunday at Bethpage Ballpark.