David Washington clearly hates baseballs. That’s the only possible explanation for why he wants to get rid of them so quickly.
And when it comes to crushing baseballs, Washington sure is efficient. The imposing lefty, who has enough power to light most of Bethpage Ballpark himself, clocked two massive home runs in the Ducks’ 7-5 victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters in the opening game of the best-of-five Atlantic League Championship Series in front of 3,327 fans in Central Islip on Tuesday night.
“I hit those balls really hard,” Washington said. “Those definitely felt really good, a little different than the ones that just scrape over the wall.”
The Ducks are two wins away from their first championship since 2013. They have played in the last three Atlantic League Championship Series, but have lost the first game in all of them. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night at Bethpage Ballpark.
Lew Ford went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI and Vladimir Frias went 2-for-3 with a run.
Washington’s first home run, a 429-foot solo shot, came as part of a five-run first inning and gave the Ducks a 5-0 lead. Ford’s RBI single earlier in the inning drove in Rey Fuentes and gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Deibinson Romero’s three-run home run, which came right before Washington’s, increased the Ducks’ lead to 4-0.
“It’s always good to get the first win,” Ducks manager Wally Backman said. “It’s big, especially in a five-game series. Nobody’s back is against the wall because there’s still games to go, but if you can get there and score early, it puts some pressure on opposing teams...We scored those five runs in the first and if you throw the first inning out of the game, we lose. They came back. That team over there is not going to quit. They’ve got some veterans over there and they compete.”
The Skeeters cut the Ducks’ lead to 5-3 after scoring two runs off starter Vin Mazzaro in the third and another run in the fourth.
Then Washington struck again. A 440-foot solo blast to centerfield in the fourth gave the Ducks a 6-3 lead. Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly later in the fourth drove in Frias and pushed the lead to 7-3.
Washington also made a nice play at first in the sixth inning, snagging a likely double down the line. Mazzaro allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. He struck out five, walked two, and earned the win.
“I established the inner half with the fastball,” Mazzaro said. “That was the game plan going in. It worked out well and opened up the outer half with offspeed pitches.”
The Skeeters scored two runs in the eighth off reliever Joe Iorio. Ducks closer Cody Mincey retired Sugar Land in order in the ninth and earned the save.
Notes & quotes: The Skeeters played the game under protest, claiming that two different baseballs were being used, according to the Ducks...Darin Downs will start Game 2 for the Ducks on Wednesday night. Downs is the ace of the Ducks staff and threw 6 1/3 strong innings in the opening game of the Ducks’ three-game sweep of the High Point Rockers last week.