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Patriots avoid sweep with 8-4 win over Long Island in Game 3

Facing elimination, Somerset defeated the Ducks, 8-4, to stay alive in the Liberty Division Championship Series.

Limited to a total of three runs and 12 hits by Long Island Ducks pitching in the first two games of the Liberty Division Championship Series, the Somerset Patriots had to flip the script quickly in Game 3 at TD Bank Ball Park because it meant either win or go home. Somerset had plenty of support with an Atlantic League Playoff record of 8,143 in attendance.

Early on it seemed déjà vu with the Ducks grabbing a quick advantage. First baseman David Washington clubbed his third home run in two nights off Patriots starter David Klubiak , a two-run shot opposite field home run over the left field wall in the fourth. Having left a total of 12 runners on base in two games, the Patriots struggled once again with runners in scoring position stranding five runners through the first four innings of play.

However, that string ended in the fifth with runners on the corners and two outs. Jayce Boyd, who entered the game hitless in eight at-bats, socked a double down the right field line bringing in Alfredo Rodriguez. Long Island managed to go back up by two runs in the following inning on a Taylor Ard RBI double. Klubiak managed to hold the Ducks to one run working out of a jam with runners on the corner by coaxing Dioner Navarro.

The back and forth action continued in the bottom half of the sixth. Nate Coronado led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a double into the left centerfield gap by Mike Fransoso. That ended the night for Long Island starter Brett Marshall as Jose Cuas took over the pitching duties. Yovan Gonzalez kept the line moving smacking a single down the right-field line as Fransoso came into score tying the contest up. Emotions ran high on a controversial play at second base leading to a ballistic outburst by Ducks manager Kevin Baez storming out of the dugout and arguing the call, eventually kicking dirt on the bag and tossing it into shallow left field leading to Baez ejection from the game.

With the bases loaded and one out, it was the hustling play of 40-year old Endy Chavez down the first base line on a ground ball that led to a RBI fielder’s choice and Patriots not only taking their first lead of the game but of the series. Boyd (3 for 5) drove in his second run of the game cranking a single into left field that brought in Craig Massey.

After a Daniel Fields RBI single in the top of the seventh trimmed the deficit down to one run, Somerset wasted no time answering back. In the bottom half of the frame as Chavez capped off his stellar night with a bases clearing double into the right-center gap.

“Happy to contribute to the win tonight and we needed it knowing we didn’t have tomorrow and that was fun,” said Chavez. “The team played hard and never gave up. I like the challenge and competition and what we did tonight. Very cool when you are the home team and fans support you. I was very excited because I felt back in the majors and everybody singing my name during the middle of my at-bat.”

Klubiak earned the win tossing six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out five. The Patriots bullpen trio of Zech Kinicola, Mike Antonini and Ryan Kelly did a spectacular job permitting just one run in three innings.

Brett Jodie on the Game 3 victory and the record-setting crowd: “Good pitching performances and we played pretty good defense. Collectively we did that and it’s a different hero each night. Endy had a big game tonight and Boyce got it going. We don’t rely on two or three guys every night. Everyone contributed in some form or fashion tonight. Getting the big two-out knocks wins ball games and we were able to do that.”

“They (fans) came and supported Patriots baseball. It’s a beautiful thing and an electric atmosphere and a lot of fun. Guys fed off that a little bit and will remember that for a long time.”

There is not much time for the Patriots to celebrate. They will try to fend off elimination for the second straight night on Saturday at TD Bank Ball Park with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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