SUGAR LAND, Texas — Ducks starter Matt Larkins had allowed only two hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. But after hitting a batter with a pitch, the righthander was pulled in favor of lefthander Patrick Crider to face lefthanded-hitting Travis Scott in a scoreless game.
That didn’t last long. Scott crushed Crider’s first-pitch fastball over the rightfield wall for a two-run home run. The designated hitter’s blast took the air out of the Ducks, and Sugar Land’s 2-0 win last night at Constellation Field put the Ducks on the verge of elimination.
The Skeeters have won the first two games of the best-of-five Atlantic League Championship Series. Both teams had only four hits.
“It’s whoever wins three games,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “We just did it last series.”
The Ducks advanced to the championship series after losing the first two games of the divisional series against Somerset.
“We’ve been here before so we know not to get down on ourselves,” third baseman Cody Puckett said. “We play a lot better at home. We’ll get back to Long Island and play baseball like we’ve been playing all year.”
The series resumes Friday at Bethpage Ballpark. Righthander Nick Struck will get the start for the Liberty Division champion Ducks, opposing righthander Sean Gallagher.
Delta Cleary collected hits in his first three at-bats — two singles and a double — for the Ducks, who for the second straight game managed little offense. The Skeeters won 1, 7-1, Tuesday night.
“It was nice to see Del get a few hits, he’s been struggling a little in the playoffs, so it was nice to get him going,” Baez said. “We just need the other guys to get going.
“Today was a pitchers’ duel. It was whoever made a mistake, and we came up on the short end.”
Sugar Land’s Michael Nix (1-0) allowed only four hits in six innings. Tyler Colvin, who had two hits in Game 1, doubled off Nix in the second inning. Colvin has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games.
Ducks shortstop Dan Lyons started two double plays in the first three innings. In the first, Jeremy Barfield, who homered in Game 1, lined a shot directly at Lyons, who made the catch and fired quickly to first baseman Colvin, doubling off Josh Prince to end the inning.
Cleary provided the only offensive highlights for the Ducks. Besides his three hits, he made an outstanding diving catch to rob Wilfredo Rodriguez of a hit in the seventh.