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Ducks drop home opener to Bowie

4/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Webster, the Akron RubberDucks’ newest mascot, made his grand entrance at Canal Park April 10. He is shown at left, with Orbit.
Left-hander Kyle Crockett signed autographs before the Akron RubberDucks home opener April 10.
Madison Rose, 3, of Akron, received a balloon creation before the Akron RubberDucks home opener.
Photos: Craig Marks
DOWNTOWN AKRON — For Akron RubberDucks owner Ken Babby, it doesn’t get much better than the home opener.

“You dream about this your whole life, right?” he said as he watched the pregame festivities before his ballclub took on the Bowie Baysox April 10. “I’m just so excited the fans could be here tonight, because we’ve been waiting all winter long.”

This was Babby’s second Akron opener, but first since the team was rebranded the RubberDucks. Fans received duck calls as they entered Canal Park, and the team’s new mallard mascot, Webster, was introduced before the game. In the late innings when the Ducks tried to stage a comeback, some fans behind home plate began a “quack quack” chant.

The Ducks fell short, however, losing 6-3 to the Baysox. Perhaps appropriately, the pitcher who recorded the save for Bowie was Oliver Drake. (A drake is a male duck.)

Ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, as well as by representatives of the construction crews that built some of the ballpark’s new amenities. Their pitches were more successful than the first pitch thrown by Ducks starter Cody Anderson, which was knocked over the right field wall by third baseman Buck Britton.

Britton also homered in his second at-bat, a two-run shot in the second inning.

“They came out and punched us right in the mouth,” said Ducks Manager Dave Wallace. “They were ready and came out swinging the bats really well.”

Anderson gave up four runs in the first two innings, but thanks to some adjustments, he was able to hold Bowie scoreless for the next four.

“That was impressive,” said Wallace. “He ended up going six innings, doing what he needed to do to keep us in the game and give a chance to win.”

Anderson said he “got a little fastball heavy” early, and the failure to establish a secondary pitch cost him.

“It’s a big thing to go out there early in the game and establish two pitches,” said Anderson. “You can’t expect to throw one pitch to the first part of the lineup.”

The Ducks got their runs in the fourth inning. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who was a tough out throughout the Bowie series (6-for-17), hit a three-run homer to left center. The ball went over the area of the fence where, before the game, a large inflatable rubber duck was stationed.

Not all of the pregame fun at the opener was duck-related. As they did last year, most of the RubberDucks made their entrances via Corvettes. Among those not riding in the cars were rehabbing Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Bourn, who was receiving treatment in the clubhouse, and Anderson, who was warming up in the bullpen.

“I was a little upset about that,” said Anderson, with a smile. “There were some nice cars out there.”

The attendance for the Ducks home opener was 8,046, according to team officials.

“It was a great atmosphere out there,” said Wallace. “The energy that the crowd had, we will draw on that.”

The Ducks begin a weeklong road trip April 17, returning to Canal Park April 25 to take on the Altoona Curve.

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