P.J. Phillips began warming up his legs in the seventh inning, he said, because he had a strange feeling he was going to make an impact off the bench in Game 2 of the Liberty Division Championship Series last night.
For the Ducks, it was a good thing the speedy outfielder had believed that. It also turned out to be a good thing Ducks outfielder Kraig Binick couldn't execute a bunt with Phillips, representing the winning run, on first base in the 10th inning.
With two strikes on Binick, Phillips, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Ryan Strieby during the inning, stole second base, and when Southern Maryland catcher Alvin Colina's errant throw sailed into centerfield, Phillips moved to third with no outs.
The next pitch hit Binick, and then, on an 0-and-2 offering to Dan Lyons, reliever Nick Sarianides threw a wild pitch that enabled Phillips to score the winning run in the Ducks' 6-5 victory at Bethpage Ballpark that gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Ducks travel to Southern Maryland for Game 3 tonight at 7:05.
"I knew I was going to have a chance," Phillips said. "My whole mind-set was to make something happen for my team."
At first, it didn't appear that would be the case. Ducks starter Shaun Garceau pitched 62/3 innings and allowed five earned runs, 10 hits and a walk. He was replaced with the Ducks trailing 5-2.
Yet the Ducks displayed a similar resiliency from their championship run last year. In the seventh, Lyons scored the third run on an error. Then the Ducks rallied in the eighth, scoring two runs. Binick, who went 3-for-4, including an RBI single that drove in Strieby in the inning, scored the tying run after third baseman Renny Osuna made a throwing error.
Five Ducks relievers didn't allow a run, including Jared Lansford, who picked up the win after a two-strikeout inning.
"It was outstanding," Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. "We did what we were supposed to do here at home and now we got to go over there and win one. We're not done yet."