The weather was more appropriate for ice skates than baseball spikes last night at Four Mile Run Park, but the Alexandria Dukes still opened their 1983 home season in fine fashion, scoring a 3-2 victory over the Lynchburg Mets.

The win, before 478, moves the Dukes (4-3) into first place in the Class A Carolina League's Northern Division. First baseman Nick Castaneda's two-run second-inning homer proved to be the game-winner.

Dominican pitcher Ravelo Manzanillo (2-0) beat the Mets for the second time, allowing two hits and no runs in five innings before leavng after a line drive off the bat of Darryl Denby struck his pitching hand.

Center fielder Nelson DelaRosa saved the game with a leaping catch at the center field wall with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth inning.

Lynchburg right-hander Dwight Gooden was overpowering, getting 11 strikeouts over seven innings. But in the second, with Jim Opie on base, Castaneda lined a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall.

"It was a hit and run and he threw a fast ball up and away," said Castaneda, who entered the game batting .071. "I had to make contact and when I hit it, I knew it was gone. I like hitting against someone who throws that hard."

Alexandria wasted situations with two men on base in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings, as did Lynchburg in the first, fifth and sixth. The Dukes went ahead, 3-0, in the seventh as Opie's single brought home Lorenzo Bundy and made a loser of Gooden.

The Mets scored twice in the eight, as reliever Johnny Taylor walked in one run and shortstop Tomas Martinez's error let in another before Dorn Taylor came on to end the rally. In the ninth, two walks and a single loaded the bases for Lynchburg before DelaRosa pulled down Dave Cochrane's drive to give Taylor the save.

"We got good pitching from Manzanillo and the three double plays helped us," Dukes Manager John Lipon said. "I thought Cochrane's shot was a hit, but DelaRosa made a great catch."

Art Ray (1-0) will start for Dukes tonight at 7:30 against Lynchburg.