Patriots Lose Season Opener 9-4 to Long Island
Added by Philip Mathew on April 27, 2012.
Somerset Patriots dropped the season opener Thursday night at TD Bank Ballpark
The Somerset Patriots opened their 15th Anniversary season with a 9-4 loss to the Long Island Ducks on Thursday night. The cold temperatures and overcast skies did not stop a solid crowd from coming out to celebrate the start of a new season and the Patriots chase for a sixth Atlantic League title.
While the Ducks were able to get runners on in the second inning off starter Mike MacDonald, the Patriots fought through the jam and scored in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Jeff Nettles reached on a walk and Aaron Mathews followed with a two-run home run to left field, giving Somerset an early 2-0 lead.
Johnny Drennen and Adam Donachie followed with singles of their own to give Somerset a chance to increase the lead. However, Rex Rundgren would lineout to left field and Donachie would suffer an injury rounding second base. The Ducks were able to get a double play and end the early rally.
MacDonald would pitch through the fourth inning, surrendering three hits and two walks but never struggled. However, manager Sparky Lyle pulled MacDonald for righty Carlton Smith and Long Island pounced. After Josh Johnson singled to lead off the inning, Kraig Binick walked and Bryant Nelson singled to right to load the bases. Brandon Sing was able to score the lead runner via a sac-fly to cut the Somerset lead to 2-1.
Somerset would change pitchers again in the sixth; going for David Quinowski and the Ducks lineup came through. Ray Navarrete would open the inning with a single to center field. Lew Ford came up next and cut a single over Nettles and into the Long Island bullpen, to score Navarrete from first and tie the game. Johnson would come through with another double to left field to score Ford and give the Ducks their first lead at 3-2.
The Patriots would answer back in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Jonny Tucker led off with an infield single and stole second with Freddy Sandoval at the plate. Sandoval hit a one-out RBI triple to right to tie the score at three. Long Island would remove starter Mike Loree for righty Jeff Lyman after the Sandoval hit. Nettles would come up with two down and nearly increase the lead with a home run to left-center, but the Ducks were under the ball at the warning track.
Long Island would battle back in the eighth inning, getting to Somerset’s Anthony Claggett. Navarrete continued his solid night with a leadoff double to left and Ford followed with a single past Nettles to give the Ducks runners at the corners. Reid Gorecki would get a sac-fly RBI to right to give the Ducks the lead again at 4-3. Johnson singled to right and Gorecki would advance to third on a wild pitch. Dan Lyons would load the bases after a hit by pitch.
The Patriots opted to remove Claggett for Travis Bowyer and while he struck Binick out, Nelson singled to center field – scoring two and extending the Long Island lead to 6-3. Jeremy Hill would come in for the Ducks in the bottom half of the inning and gave up a one-out double to Tucker.
Bynum lined a first-pitch single to center, giving Somerset runners at the corners. Sandoval would hit a sac-fly to right to score Tucker and cut the lead to 6-4. With two down, Jesse Hoorelbeke came up with a chance to tie the game but grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Somerset changed pitchers again in the top of the ninth, going with T.J. Hose. Ryan Garko would lead off with a four-pitch walk and the Ducks used James McOwen to pinch-run. Navarrete was up next and hit a two-run home run, over the left field fence to extend the Long Island lead to 8-4.
Ford followed and was hit by a pitch, and Gorecki singled to give the Ducks runners at first and second with no outs. Lyons would load the bases after being hit by a pitch and Binick would hit a sac-fly to left, scoring Ford and giving the Ducks a 9-4. Somerset had no answers and fell to 7-8 all-time on Opening Day. Lyman got credit for the win after throwing 1.2 shutout innings while Claggett took the loss after surrendering three hits and three runs in 1.1 innings pitched.
The Patriots continue their series against Long Island with 7:05 p.m. first pitche scheduled tonight and on Saturday, where they will be honoring former Yankee Willie Randolph before the game. Somerset plays Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. to close their opening series before a day off and a three-game road trip at Lancaster.
- Donachie is day-to-day with a sprained ankle after his injury running the bases in the second inning. Yusuf Carter (nephew of MLB legend Joe Carter) came in as the replacement.
- Navarrete went 5-5 on opening night and hit his 23rd career home run against the Patriots in the ninth inning.
- The Patriots released outfielder Joe Holden and pitchers Ricky Brooks, James Baker, Kevin Reese and Matt Crim after spring training.