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Ducks shut out by Sugar Land Skeeters in season opener

Ducks pitcher Dontrelle Willis warms up in the

Ducks pitcher Dontrelle Willis warms up in the bullpen. (April 13, 2013) Credit: George A. Faella

SUGAR LAND, Texas -- The Long Island Ducks won't receive their championship rings and raise a banner celebrating the team's 2012 Atlantic League championship until their home opener on April 26.

And the Ducks were not in a festive mood Thursday, losing to the Sugar Land Skeeters, 3-0, in their 2013 season opener at Constellation Field. Steve Moss (three hits) and Koby Clemens -- Roger's son -- homered for the Skeeters off Ducks reliever Ian Snell in his one inning in the sixth.

"First-game jitters played into it, but the other team has to go through it too," Ducks manager Kevin Baez said.

Ducks starter Bill Murphy took the loss, allowing one run in five innings. The Ducks managed only five hits -- two singles by Ramon Castro, a double by Danny Perales and singles by Bryant Nelson and Adam Bailey.

"It's a pleasure to be here and I'm going to do the best I can and try to get to the big leagues," said Castro, a former Mets catcher.

The Ducks didn't get a baserunner off Sugar Land starter Matt Wright until Castro led off the fifth inning with a single to right. Nelson followed with a single to left, and one out later, Joash Brodin reached first on catcher's interference to load the bases. But Rian Kiniry lined to second and Skeeters centerfielder Adam Godwin made a running catch of Dan Lyons' drive near the warning track for the third out.

"The biggest play of the game," Baez said. "We could score three runs right there and go ahead. It was a huge play, and to play Lyons that deep. When it was first hit, it sounded good off the bat and I thought it had a chance."

The Ducks return 12 players from last year's team. Newcomers include former major-leaguers Castro behind the plate, pitcher Dontrelle Willis and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who is on the inactive list. Willis, the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year with the world champion Marlins, will not start for the Ducks until the home opener against the Skeeters.

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