The Somerset Patriots put on a clinic of baseball execution over the weekend, capped off by an 8-2 victory over the Lancaster Barnstormers in the finale of a four-game series at TD Bank Park, completing a four-game sweep.
There were key stats in the series. The Patriots made only one error. Of the 14 occasions they had their leadoff batter reach base, they brought him home nine times. Their bunting and defensive communication were mid-season perfect. Somerset had four multi-run hits in the four-game weekend set, all in the early innings when the game was close.
It all came together for the Patriots early on Sunday afternoon. Lucas Irvine escaped a first inning jam, coaxing a double play grounder out of Lastings Milledge with runners at the corners and one out. Immediately, the Pats offense went to work. Darren Ford led off with a bunt single pushed up the first base line, and Alfredo Rodriguez followed with a walk. Both runners moved ahead on a bunt by Olmo Rosario. Tommy Shirley (0-1) struck out Bryan LaHair, but Jerry Sands banged a single into center, scoring both runs.
They repeated the process in the second. Somerset veteran Aharon Eggleston led off with a single up the middle, and Tyler Bortnick walked. Scott Kelly popped up a bunt that landed halfway to the mound, and Anderson De La Rosa had to scramble for an out at first base. Ford promptly ripped a double into the left field corner, scoring two more for a 4-0 lead.
Lancaster began to reach Irvine in the middle innings. A two-out double by Milledge and RBI single to center by Blake Gailen shaved one run off the lead in the fourth. Garrett Weber singled and scored on a double by De La Rosa in the fifth, and suddenly the Barnstormers had the tying run at the plate. After Irvine retired Vladimir Frias on a grounder to first, Somerset manager Brett Jodie went to his bullpen. Lefty Justin Wright (1-0) struck out Caleb Gindl to hold the lead. Lancaster never put another runner into scoring position for the game.
Meanwhile, Somerset put the game away in the bottom of the fifth. Kelly led off with a double on Shirley’s first pitch of the inning. Ford, trying to sacrifice Kelly to third, beat out a bunt single when Shirley looked for the out at third originally. Rodriguez’ grounder to third was mishandled for an error, and Olmo Rosario greeted R.J. Hively with a clean single into left for a 6-2 lead. The third run of the inning scored on a ground out.
Lancaster will open a three-game series at New Britain on Tuesday at 6:35. Former Oriole Brad Bergesen will make the start.
NOTES: This marks the first time in franchise history Lancaster has opened a season, 0-4…Newcomers Frias and De La Rosa, along with Jeff Kobernus are tied for the team lead with four hits apiece…The Barnstormers outslugged the Patriots with six doubles and two homers on the weekend…Lancaster was only outhit, 31-26 but outscored, 20-9, in the series…The Barnstomers bullpen allowed only two earned runs in the four games…Gailen jumped into sole possession of second place in the all-time RBI column with his RBI single in the fourth.