Once the dark clouds disappeared Thursday morning, it turned into a bright, sunny day for the RubberDucks at the first sold-out game at Canal Park this season.
The Ducks (22-23) excelled in all phases and delighted a crowd of 8,241 — mostly area schoolkids — with a 6-2 victory over the Harrisburg Senators and sweep of their three-game Eastern League series.
The Ducks pounded out 13 hits, scoring five runs in the first three innings, received a strong start by right-hander Aaron Civale, and made a number of dazzling plays in the field despite gusty wind on Education Day.
"That's what good teams do," Ducks manager Rouglas Odor said. "We've done it lately and we're playing better baseball. We've done a great job of being consistent in all three of those areas."
A fast-moving storm hit the area Thursday morning but the game got underway at its scheduled 10:30 a.m. time. About 6,200 tickets were distributed to students from 67 schools, the largest number of the three Education Days in the past two weeks.
Fans watched Civale (3-0) win his third game since being activated from extended spring training May 11. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowed five hits and two runs and struck out seven. He walked two, both in the seventh.
He said he "was on the same page" with catcher Li-Jen Chu.
"Attack the hitters," Civale said. "Just went after it all day."
He credited Ducks hitters for making his job easier with plenty of run support.
"The offense has been scoring runs for me every start," Civale said. "First game, they scored 15 runs, last game was 10. Got another six today. Got off to an early start offensively. It helps me confidence-wise to go out there and just kind of work for them."
Civale, 23, was a third-round pick by the Indians in the June 2016 MLB Draft. Last year with the Ducks, he was 5-7 with 3.89 ERA in 21 starts. He endured three stints on the disabled list and needed extra time to get ready for this season.
It continued a run of successful starts by Ducks pitchers. They have now given up two earned runs or fewer in 15 consecutive games.
Left-hander David Speer worked the last 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out three for his first save.
And the Senators (29-16), the first-place team in the Western Division, were swept in a series by the Ducks for the first time since losing all four games of a series in May of 2014.
The Ducks are tied for third with the Altoona Curve, seven games behind the Senators.
Ka'ai Tom and Tyler Krieger each contributed three hits in four at-bats for the Ducks. Both scored a run and drove in one.
Tom doubled leading off a two-run first, scoring on a double-play grounder, doubled in a run in the second, and singled in the fourth.
"Feeling pretty good," Tom said. "I love day games. Civale gave us a really good chance to win the game. So having him set the tone for us and all of us just having good quality ABs today."
Tom is hitting .304 in 18 May games with three home runs, after an April when he hit .185 with one homer in 23 games.
"Just sticking to a process and just learning day by day," he said. "Putting the work in, some prep work, to routines, with talking to our coaching staff to get to where we want to be long term."
Odor praised Tom and other Ducks hitters for hitting pitches to the opposite field.
"Greatest hitters, that's what they do," Odor said. "They use the whole field and that's what we're trying to do."
Alexis Pantoja was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. The Ducks amassed 10 hits in the first three innings against Senators starter Jackson Tetreault (2-3).
The Senators hit two solo home runs, by Austin Davidson (his second) in the fourth and Chuck Taylor (his seventh) in the fifth.