Despite a seven-game winning streak coming to an end last weekend in a series against New Hampshire last week, the Somerset Patriots still managed to take three out of four games in the series. Mother Nature wreaked havoc with the series as rainouts forced the team to play doubleheaders.
Somerset Patriots outfielder Michael Beltre was clicking on all cylinders of late with an 11-game base streak. During the stretch, Beltre hit .391 with three home runs, nine RBI’s, and 16 runs. Starting pitcher Luis Gil earned his first win of the season. The Patriots pitching staff racking up the strikeouts with 44 in the four games played against the Fisher Cats. Glenn Otto ranking second in the league with 35 strikeouts.
Continuing the homestand at TD Bank Ball Park, the Patriots welcomed the Reading Fightin Phils on Tuesday night. Entering the game, Reading with the league’s worst record at 4-20 and ERA at 6.76 and hitting just .199 overall as a team that ranked third-worst in all of Double-A.
Taking the ball for the Patriots, left-handed pitcher JP Sears entered the contest with a 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA. In his last outing against New Hampshire on May 25th, Sears struck out eight hitters. Picking up where he left off, Sears dominated early on, whiffing the first five Fightin Phils batters.
In the bottom half of the first inning, with one out, shortstop Diego Castillo belted a solo shot over the left center field wall off Fightin Phil starting pitcher Kevin Glogoski. Following Castillo, catcher Donny Sands pulverized a Glogoski offering to dead center.
Patriots manager Julio Mosquera on Diego Castillo, “It was good to see Diego, he just came back from being out for a little, he was swinging the bat well before he got hurt, and we hope that he continues to do the same thing he did tonight. It’s always good when your team jumps out early, you come into a game and pitch with a cushion and defense makes a couple of good plays. It’s tough when you have to come from behind, we have been there before and know how it is and we’re going to continue what we do and have our good days and enjoy those going ahead.”
After tacking on the run in the second, the Somerset Patriot offense lit up the scoreboard in the third inning. Leading off, Donny Sands bashed a solo missile to the same spot in the first inning. Getting into the home run derby act, first baseman Dermis Garcia smashed a solo drive to centerfield. Going yard for a second time, Garcia cranked a fly ball over the left-centerfield wall in the fifth inning for his ninth home run of the season.
“Looking fastball right down the middle and trying to put good swings on and just do damage,” Donny Sands said. “Then the next one it was 3-2, he had thrown a few change-ups and missed on both of them and after he inked a fastball I was kind of sitting on a 3-2 change-up and he threw it.”
Manager Julio Mosquera on Dermis Garcia and Donny Sands, “What can I say about Dermis, he has tremendous power as I have been saying all along, he’s been working on his swing decisions, making better swings and making sure the swings are strikes so we all know he is going to connect and hit the ball out of the ballpark a lot of times. I saw Donny hit five or six home runs in spring training, obviously he’s a lot stronger and mature and it’s something he is going to grow more into and have that power. It doesn’t really surprise me, I’ve seen him before so it’s just a matter of him going out there trusting it and going out there and swinging at good pitches.”
Tossing five innings, allowing one run on three hits and most impressive ten strikeouts, JP Sears passed the baton off to Janson Junk. Hurling four shutout innings, Junk yielded just one hit, walked three, and fanned five to close out a 6-1 victory. The Somerset Patriots improved to 17-7 on the season while maintaining a game and half lead over the Portland Sea Dogs (16-9) in the Double-A Northeast standings.
“We’re always thinking of JP (Sears) as a starter and wanted to give him that chance and something that he deserved and has been throwing the ball pretty good,” Manager Julio Mosquera said. “I have coached JP before; the preparation for a start is a little bit different; you don’t have to be anxious coming out of the bullpen and try to do too much. He can take his time, pre-game routine is easy, and be ready to start at 7:05 instead of waiting. When he starts a game, he has electric stuff and a tick-up on his velocity.”
“JP’s got a small frame, he’s getting quicker, his ball jumps and he’s going to eat up a lot of hitters and something that he takes advantage of. Once he gets out there he uses his fastball, we call it a sneaky fastball and he mixed his pitches up well and it’s been helping out a lot because he is locating his pitches a lot better.”
Mosquera on using JP Sears and Janson Junk together, “They both have electric stuff, on the right and left side and they can pound the ball into righties and lefties from inside. It’s a good combination when you face a really good right-handed pitcher then bring in another really good lefty in the same game so it keeps us off-balance a little bit and I think something is working really well.”