Coming into the final two weeks of the season, the Somerset Patriots find themselves in must-win mode. After splitting a two-game series against Freedom Division rival Sugar Land Skeeters, the Patriots go to York for four games that will decide their fate in 2012.
If they can sweep York, they will still have a chance to make the Atlantic League playoffs. Otherwise, they will miss the post season for consecutive seasons – the first time in franchise history.
The Patriots responded well on Wednesday night, using a walk-off, three-run homerun by Jeff Nettles in the 9th to get past the Skeeters, 4-1.
Former Patriots Matt Hagen and Iggy Suarez helped Sugar Land take a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh. Hagan singled to center field and Suarez doubled down the left field line, scoring Hagan.
Somerset was still behind 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth when Colin Curtis led off with a single to right field. Yunesky Sanchez grounded to first base for the force out, allowing Curtis to advance to second.
A wild pitch by Skeeters closer Gary Majewski got Curtis to third with pinch-runner Dan Hennigan coming up. Hennigan came in for Jesse Hoorelbeke in the 7th inning but was stranded. Hennigan, who just came off the DL for a hamstring injury, hit an RBI single to right field, scoring Curtis and tying the game.
Piscataway’s Corey Smith followed with a single to right field as well before Nettles came to bat. On the night the five millionth fan came into TD Bank Ballpark and with a raucous crowd chanting his name, Nettles took a 1-1 pitch deep to left-center field for the walk off and a 4-1 win.
Sugar Land responded on Thursday night, when teammate and former Patriot great Josh Pressley was named the second best player in Patriots history as part of the 15-year anniversary of the organization this year.
Sugar Land took an 11-1 lead through the top of the seventh, the latest scoring play a two-run triple by Pressley. Somerset rallied in the bottom half with four runs on an RBI double by Joe Holden and two-run homerun by Curtis, cutting the Skeeters lead to 11-5.
Yusuf Carter hit a solo homerun in the eighth, his twelfth of the season, to cut Sugar Land’s lead to 11-6. In the ninth, Smith hit his eighth home run of the season to left field, bringing Somerset within two, but they were unable to get any farther.
Sugar Land’s last appearance in Somerset would end with an 11-9 victory, their sixth win of twenty against the Patriots in their inaugural year in the Atlantic League.
Somerset starts tonight’s four-game set against York with one thing in mind: winning. York and Somerset have played tight games all season long. Somerset trails York by eight games with 10 to play. Doug Arguello starts tonight for Somerset versus York’s Chris Cody.
Chase Wright starts the first half of a double header tomorrow against Ryan Feierabend and recent signee Adam Champion starts the night cap against former Patriot Derrick Gordon. Sunday’s starter is still to be determined for Somerset but York counters with 13-game winner Corey Thurman.
With the remaining members of the team looking to have come together, maybe Somerset has another historic comeback in them to make a run at the Atlantic League championship.