Patriots’ Superstars Swat the Skeeters in Series Opener
Added by David Rubin on August 16, 2013.
Jonny Tucker slides safe at home to score the Patriots sixth run of game. (Photo by David Rubin)
The Somerset Patriots had the Zooperstars entertaining the crowd between innings, and during the game it was the Somerset Patriot superstars that were keeping the crowd engaged (although some of the players did have a cameo in an act or two with the Zooperstars).
Clearly, the Sugar Land series is a big series. After Wednesdays Patriots win over the Barnstormers, Somerset’s Cory Aldridge was asked when he starts looking forward to a big series like this one. He replied, “Tomorrow at Seven [O'clock]. Every game is the most important game of the year” he added, “We’re trying to win”. His concluding line in the postgame interview was a good one: “You got to be a competitor and you want to go out there and win for yourself and your teammates.”
Well the whole team must think the same way as Aldridge does. Somerset played as though it was the most important game of the year.
A man named Joe Holden, who played single-A ball with the Mets organization a few years ago, was penciled in the number nine spot for Somerset. Holden, the former Atlantic League all-star, came into the night batting .320 in 103 at-bats with six runs batted in this year. He is no stranger to Somerset, though only starting 28 games this year, as he enters his fourth year with the squad. He certainly knows how to get on base with a hefty .379 on-base percentage. In his first at-bat he drove in one run as Jeff Baisley crossed the plate on a single to left by the aforementioned Holden. The inning didn’t slow down there as Jonny Tucker followed that up with a 2-run single to right that scored Joe Holden and Angel Sanchez which gave the Patriots a 3-0 lead.
Joe Holden, however, wasn’t quite satisfied enough to stop there.
In Holden’s next at-bat in the fourth inning, he hit a single scoring James Skelton. Aharon Eggleston was up a few batters later and put a ball in centerfield for a double. Holden and Tucker would come around to score on the Eggleston hit. That gave the Patriots the extremely comfortable six-run lead they needed in a crucial game prior to starting the fifth inning. This inning would be the last for the Skeeters’ starter David Pauley. Pauley, a former big leaguer himself, lasted just four innings. He allowed 10 hits, six runs, two walks, and he struck out six while picking up the loss (3-2).
On in relief for Sugar Land was ex-Patriot Ben Kozlowski. Very quickly after entering, a stoppage of played occurred as Patriots skipper Brett Jodie and the umpires had a small discussion over the balls being used during the course of the game. Several fans tweeted asking about the scenario, so I asked Brett Jodie postgame and he said the ump had called him over regarding the baseballs being used. Brett Jodie commented, “We [were using] some Minor League balls [and] some Atlantic League balls. That’s all. They’re all Rawlings. The umpire came to me and said we need [to use] all Atlantic League balls”.
Tim Tebull (Zooperstars) fools around with Patriots players. (Photo by David Rubin)
Patriots starter Roy Merritt went five innings and departed with a no-hitter. Merritt, in only his second start since leaving the bullpen, did walk two batters while also striking out seven. When asked about having to leave the no-no after only five innings Merritt said, “I’m trying to build up my arm. I don’t want to go out there and throw 100 pitches [during] just my second outing”. Merritt also commented about the importance of getting run support early in the game “When I got those runs early I knew I had to shut [Sugar Land] out”. Roy Merritt did that en route to picking up his first win of the year (1-2). Merritts’ catcher for the day, James Skelton, talked about his starting pitchers’ performance “He had everything going – fastball, curveball, slider, [and] changeup”. You certainly don’t need to hear Skelton, Merritt, or Jodie to believe that – the Sugar Land hit column showed he was dominant.
The no-hitter (which could have became a team no-hitter), was broken up when Paul Phillips, who entered the game in relief of Merritt, gave up a single to Sugar Land second basemen Jeff Dominguez.
The Somerset shutout of Sugar Land ended when Phillips, in his first appearance since July 27th, gave up a long home run to Sugar Land’s designated hitter Eduardo Perez. As to the length of the home run, it hit off the scoreboard in right field. Good thing they have that net installed to protect the high definition screen, huh?
Phillips finished after three innings, two hits, and one run.
Carlton Smith came on for Somerset in the ninth to take the place of Phillips. Smith, 2-0 with a 3.82 ERA, allowed just his third homerun in 27 appearances to Travis Scott. Scott hit the solo shot to put a dent in the Patriots lead.
Somerset picked up the 6-2 win against Sugar Land in game one of the four game series.
Somerset and Sugar Land square off in game two on Friday. Somerset will send Josh Lowey (10-7, 3.42) to square off against Cesar Carillo (0-0, 5.52).