The first rule of fireworks: wait until the sun goes down. The Ducks know this, and their catcher, Hector Sanchez, obliged accordingly Sunday night.
Sanchez, who won a World Series with the Giants in 2012, launched a game-winning solo home run to lead off the eighth inning in the Ducks' 4-3 win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in front of 7,020 fans at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip, just in time for a postgame Fourth of July fireworks show.
"Obviously it was late in a tie game," Sanchez said. "You’re just looking for a good pitch to hit. [Southern Maryland reliever Endrys Briceno] has a very good fastball. So I was anticipating that pitch. He threw me a fastball down and in and that was basically the pitch I was looking for. I just put a good swing on it and good for us that I could get it out of the park."
Southern Maryland just missed tying the score in the top of the ninth, falling victim to a baserunning error. After a flyout by David Harris, Blue Crabs first baseman Dario Pizzano was doubled off first base with the tying run about to score from third.
"It was definitely not heads-up base running from [Pizzano]," Ducks manager Wally Backman said. "I’ll take a win any way. [Daniel] Fields was heads-up by making a play.
"It’s a big win. They should have tied the game up there and then you never know what’s going to happen."
The Ducks (18-15) fell behind 3-0 in the fourth, but rallied for three runs in the sixth to tie the score. Daniel Fields’ ground-rule double drove in Deibinson Romero and Sanchez to cut the Southern Maryland lead to 3-2, and Breland Almadova’s RBI single drove in Fields to tie the score at 3.
Ducks starting pitcher Brendan Feldmann allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five, but walked six. The start, while relatively ho-hum by normal standards, was a marked improvement for Feldmann, who allowed 13 runs last Tuesday against Lancaster.
Blue Crabs starter Mike Devine allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked one.
After cruising through the first two innings, Feldmann found trouble in the third. Three straight two-out singles, punctuated by one off the bat of Josh McAdams, gave the Blue Crabs a 1-0 lead. Feldmann got Alex Crosby to fly out to end the inning without anymore damage administered.
The Blue Crabs took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, this time on an RBI double from Will Decker that drove in Joe DeLuca, who walked to start the inning.
Feldmann walked three batters in the sixth before being taken out. Ducks reliever Ryan Richardson gave up an RBI double to the first batter he faced, Blue Crabs shortstop Michael Baca, that gave Southern Maryland a 3-0 lead.
Note & quotes: Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia had the night off. The former major-leaguers are spending a week with the Ducks to prepare for the Olympics, where they will play for Israel. Kinsler went 1-for-3 with a single on Friday and 2-for-4 with a run Saturday. Valencia went 0-for-3 Friday and 1-for-3 with a walk on Saturday.