Winning their first five out of six games at TD Bank Ball Park, the Somerset Patriots (10-5) hit the road for 12 games in the span of 13 days. The entire complexion of the roster changing with the leading home run and RBI leader Estevan Florial transferred to Scranton. Joining Florial in Scranton Brandon Wagner, Hoy Jun Park, and Thomas Milone.
Starting out in New Hampshire, the Patriots ran into trouble dropping four out of six games. Making matters worse Diego Castillo and Jason Lopez landing on the injury list.
Manager Julio Mosquera admitted it was not an ideal start but sympathized with the challenges the players faced being on the road for so long.
“This is an adjustment for everybody to go on a long road trip for that long and stay in one city. Six days at a time it’s kind of a tough thing and it’s going to take a while. It’s early in the season, you’re going to lose and win some series and obviously we strive to win and play well and sometimes it’s not going to work your work your way and you just got to stay positive and we keep preaching to the players as a coaching staff. Stay positive, keep competing when you go out there, and take care of your business.”
“With the restrictions, we can’t go inside a restaurant, you got to order food to go all the time and make sure the boys are ordering food and coming back. One of the toughest parts you can’t go out and go to populated areas. We spend a lot of time in the hotel and there’s not much that you can do and you try to keep yourself spaced out. We’re lucky our players are following the protocols that have been put in place.”
Finishing up the grueling trip with a six-game series at the Hartford Yard Goats this past Tuesday night at Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut. In the series opener, Somerset starting pitcher Matt Krook hurled five shutout innings, allowing three hits, three walks while striking out seven.
With Carlos Espinal taking over the pitching duties, the Yard Goats loaded up the bases in the sixth. Winding up to throw a pitch, the home plate umpire called a balk on Espinal forcing in a run. Down to their last licks in the ninth inning, catcher Donny Sands led off with a double.
Stepping up to the plate, first baseman Dermis Garcia came through in the clutch smashing a two-run missile shot into the left field bleachers. Greg Weissert came on in the ninth to record his second save of the season. Keegan Curtis earned his first win of the season in relief.
The Somerset Patriots led 4-1 after six innings plate the next night, Dermis Garcia picking up where he left off the night before clobbering his fourth home run of the season in the first inning. Hartford rallied to score three runs between the sixth and seven innings. Eventually, the game went into extra innings, Isiah Gilliam proving to be the hero for the Patriots knocking in Michael Beltre with a single.
Somerset tacking an additional run as the game went to the bottom half of the frame. With runners on the corner and two outs, Stephen Ridings shut the fort down by striking out Hartford catcher Max George. Ridings notching his second win of the year.
On Thursday night the Somerset Patriots wasted no time putting the game away against Hartford. Scoring seven times the first three innings off Yard Goats starting pitcher Matt Dennis. Meanwhile, Somerset starter Glenn Otto, coming off a rough start last Friday against New Hampshire where he yielded seven runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings on the mound was in the zone striking out the zone in the first inning.
“I actually didn’t feel good in the bullpen leading up to the game and that’s a common thing,” Glenn Otto said. “Max McDowell did a really good the whole night giving me a game plan that I was comfortable with. I think that first inning I knew when I could do something special. It was pretty fun to watch from the dugout, we were hitting the ball from everywhere. Everybody was scoring that makes it a lot easier for me to go out there and no pressure and have to worry about a tight ball game. Concentrating on just going out there and attacking hitters and not necessarily dodging contact and just filling up the zone and I able to do that pretty well.”
The Somerset Patriots went on to tally four additional runs as they busted out the lumber racking up 17 hits on the night. Dermis Garcia collecting two more hits and driving in a run while Michael Beltre went 4 for 6 with two RBI’s and three runs scored.
Newcomers Aaron Palensky, Max McDowell, and Oliver Dunn making significant contributions as well. Palensky 2 for 5 with two RBI’s, McDowell 1 for 2 with 2 RBI’s, three runs scored, and three walks. Dunn hitting his first home run in a Patriots uniform in the sixth inning. Otto departing after 5 1/3 innings, surrendering two hits, walking one, and whiffing 14 hitters.
Manager Julio Mosquera on the winning streak, “I use the same mentality, same slogan is “Next Man Up” and tell them your opportunity to shine. Dermis (Garcia) is swing the bat a little better now, (Michael) Beltre brings a lot to the table and swinging the bat and great to see (Aaron) Palensky get his first professional hit in professional baseball in his first game ever so we gave him the ball. Dermis (Garcia) is making better decisions right now that earlier in the season and spring. He is trying to swing at better pitches and balls in the zone and I think a result of what he is doing now.” He’s a player with a lot of power, when he connects he‘s going to connect with the baseball and going to fly and one of the top guys in the organization power wise. Glenn (Otto) has always had really good stuff, he’s healthy finally and something that he brings to the table is that he attacks hitters. He studies the games a lot, hitters and his pitches are getting sharper and sharper as he goes out there. You can see every outing he gets out there is feeling more comfortable and I think he‘s got a bright future.”