Pike Stifles the Somerset Patriots Offense
After taking two of three games from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs over the weekend for their first series win of the season, the Somerset Patriots sat at 6-12 overall and hoped to continue to inch closer to the .500 mark entering action last night at TD Bank Ballpark against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Right handed hurler Nic Ungs took the ball for Somerset hoping to stifle a Bluefish team that was fresh off of taking two of three games over the weekend from the Freedom Division leading Landcaster Barnstormers. Ungs was coming off his best start of the season in which he went seven shutout innings to earn a victory against the Camden Riversharks on May 14.
Ungs and Bridgeport starter Matt Pike matched each other with scoreless frames through the first three innings before the Bluefish would strike first in the top of the fourth inning. After a leadoff single by second baseman Steve Moss, Bridgeport got a clutch two out RBI single up the middle from first baseman Wes Bankston to draw the early 1-0 lead.
After the heart of the Somerset batting order was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth inning on three fly balls, Bridgeport would tack on to their lead in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff strikeout, catcher Luis Rodriguez homered to extend the lead to 2-0.
Somerset came fighting back in the bottom of the fifth and were presented with an excellent opportunity to notch a run on the scoreboard. After a leadoff base hit by second baseman Matt Hagen, shortstop Fernando Cortez got an infield hit to second base while Hagen advanced to third base on a throwing error to first. With runners on first and third base, catcher JR Hopf and left fielder Wayne Lydon both popped up on the infield to third base and centerfielder Joe Holden struck out looking to end the threat.
As quickly as the Patriots scoring threat had been quieted by Pike, Bridgeport struck yet again in the top of the sixth inning on a leadoff homerun to straight away centerfield from second baseman Victor Mercedes.
After yielding the solo shot to Mercedes, Ungs buckled down and retired the next three hitters in order. Trailing 3-0, Somerset would finally push a run across in the bottom of the seventh inning when Holden would single home Hopf, who had doubled earlier in the inning. Holden’s RBI prompted Bridgeport manager Willie Upshaw to pull Pike after 6 2/3 innings of stellar pitching. Pike threw 95 pitches and surrendered the lone run on eight hits.
Somerset could not manufacture another scoring opportunity the rest of the way and fell 3-1 to the Bluefish in the series opener. Despite the anemic offensive output, Ungs gave the Patriots another terrific outing, as he has done all season. He gave the team a good chance to win the game going seven strong innings, giving up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts on 97 pitches.
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