The Somerset Patriots (14-5) finished on a high note after losing four out of six games on a 12-game road trip, with a resounding six-game sweep against the Hartford Yard Goats at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut.
Somerset outscored Hartford by a significant margin 50-14, tallying a season-high 17 hits in the third game of the series, and in three out of the four final games, every hitter in the lineup recording a hit. First baseman Dermis Garcia was tearing the cover off the ball with a 10-game hitting streak, batting .350 with six home runs, 14 R.B.I.’s, and nine runs scored.
Outfielder Michael Beltre just as impressive with a six-game hit streak, seven R.B.I.’s, 12 runs scored, and overall batting average sky-rocketing from .176 to .300 that earned Beltre the Double-A Northeast Player of the Week.
Meanwhile, the Patriots pitching staff dominating during the road trip with a 1.96 E.R.A. and 80 strikeouts. Somerset led all of Double-A with 220 strikeouts and registered double-digits in 15 of 18 games this season.
Returning home to T.D. Bank Ball Park for the first time since May 9th, the Patriots hosted the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (7-12). Janson Junk got the starting assignment for Somerset. Unhittable this season, Junk sporting a team-low 0.82 E.R.A. and not allowing a run in his last two starts.
Facing off against Fisher Cats starter Kyle Johnston, the fans were treated to a pitcher’s duel. Junk hurling four shutout innings, yielding three innings, and whiffing seven batters. On the flipside, Johnston did not allow a hit in the first three innings of action. Michael Beltre got the first Patriots hit of the night leading off the fourth inning.
“Janson did a pretty good job, kept us in the game, was attacking the hitters, and mixed up his pitches pretty good tonight,” Somerset Patriots Manager Julio Mosquera said. “He gave us everything we are looking for; he kept us going and gave us a chance to keep it close.”
In the fifth inning, Somerset had a scoring opportunity with runners on the corner and two outs, but Johnston weaved out of the jam, striking out Patriots shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera.
Taking over the Somerset pitching duties for Junk, left-hander JP Sears (2-0) easily navigated through the New Hampshire lineup in 4 2/3 solid innings on the hill. Mowing down seven hitters against the Fisher Cats back on May 13th, Sears dialed up the heat setting down eight.
“Janson did a good job; I’m getting settled into it and nice to have a routine knowing when I’m going to pitch, but I’m just excited every time I go out to throw and been good,” JP Sears described. “My slider was working pretty well; usually, my fastball is my main go-to pitch and was pretty good, but my slider was working better than it used to and rolled with that. I tried to fill up the zone, limit the walks, and my last outing, I had too many walks, and I knew I’m not that kind of player and did my best to help the team win tonight.”
“I treat it as a start; our goal here is to win and make it to the big leagues. No matter whether as a starter, short or long reliever and taking every opportunity to pitch, and it doesn’t matter what role as long as I eat innings and showcase my talent.”
In the eighth inning, left fielder Matt Pita led off with a bloop single to right field. Pita ended up swiping second base, followed by Michael Beltre drawing a two-out walk. Catcher Donny Sands broke the stalemate by lacing a single into center field, with Pita coming into score quickly. In danger of a 10-game hitting streak ending, first baseman Dermis Garcia kept the streak intact, ripping a single to right field as Beltre crossed home plate.
Julio Mosquera on Dermis Garcia, “He has been swinging at more strikes, making better decisions and wasn’t doing earlier in the season. He got back to being more disciplined at the plate and making contact with pitches over the plate, and he is so strong.”
New Hampshire made things interesting in the ninth inning with back-to-back singles off Sears. With runners on the corner, Fisher Cats catcher Gabriel Moreno delivered a sac fly. Sears recovered to strike out LJ Talley. At that point, Julio Mosquera made a pitching change, calling upon Greg Weissert.
Uncorking a wild pitch that placed runners at second and third base, Weissert slammed the door shut by striking New Hampshire left fielder Samad Taylor while notching his third save of the season.
“What can I say about J.P. (Sears), he kept rolling out there, and I would have loved to see him finish it out, but as an organization, we have decisions to make,” Manager Julio Mosquera explained. “(Greg) Weissert came in there and did a pretty good job in closing out the game for us.”