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Patriots can’t find rhythm in Liberty Division Championship Series opening loss to Long Island

Facing off in the Atlantic League Playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons against the Long Island Ducks, the Somerset Patriots were attempting to wipe away the bad memory of Long Island winning last year’s postseason series 3-1 including swiping two games at TD Bank Ballpark.

With the first two games of the series taking place at Bethpage Ballpark, Somerset had to overcome the fact the Ducks had taken seven out of nine games in the playoffs on their home field. Right off the bat in the first inning, the Patriots had an terrific opportunity to jump out to an early lead with runners with first and second one out but were unable to take advantage as Long Island starter Matt Larkins coaxed first baseman Jayce Boyd into a double play.

Somerset starter Vince Molesky faced a jam in the bottom half of the frame with runners on second and third with two outs but managed to get David Washington into grounding out to second base. However, Long Island broke the stalemate in the third inning, with runners at second and third none out, Daniel Fields(1 for 3, one run scored and three RBI) drilled a two run double down the right field line. Lew Ford(3 for 5, two RBI) stepped up to the plate next bringing Fields home cranking a single into center field.

Meanwhile, Larkins stymied the Patriots retiring eight in a row at one point. In the fourth with two outs and Rubi Silva on first base, Ducks second baseman Jordany Valdespin (3 for 4, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI) smacked a drive down the right field line as Silva easily came into score. Right fielder Justin Trapp could not field the ball cleanly, eventually firing the ball back to second baseman Craig Massey who in turn threw to third base attempting to cut down Valdespin but the ball skipped by Nate Coronado allowing Valdespin to trot across home plate. Molesky exited after the fifth inning yielding five runs, four of them earned on nine hits, walking one and fanning four.

“I don’t think we picked it up in at all in all facets of the game, pretty abnormal with our showing tonight,” said Somerset Patriots Manager Brett Jodie. “Very sloppy in all aspects, we didn’t pitch the ball well, play great defense and good AB’s. We had some hits but didn’t battle, early swinging and weak contact.”

“I don’t know how they got the fourth and fifth run and pretty sloppy to allow that with two outs. We need to take advantage of situations. You can’t keep innings to allow go by and not push some runs across against a team like that. Little glimpses of what we could do and opportunities we squandered away.”

Massey atoned for his error getting the Somerset on the board in the fifth with an RBI single to left field as Trapp skid in safely at home ahead of a throw by Silva. The lone bright spot on offense for the Patriots was left fielder Ramon Flores going 3 for 4 at the plate including a solo home run with one out in the sixth trimming the deficit to 5-2 but that would be as close as it would get. Long Island would tack on four additional runs off Somerset relievers Dustin Molleken and Chase Huchingson to bust the game wide open.

“We need to get back to what we’re doing,” Jodie said. “Grinding out AB’s, putting pressure on them and playing sound defense. They really dominated in all aspects, very far and few in between positives. The one positive is only counts as one loss. We have to come out tomorrow and be better in all facets of the game and try to secure a split on the road and get home.”

Game 2 of the Liberty Division Championship Series at Bethpage Ballpark is on Thursday night with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. Right handed pitcher Stephen Perakslis(2-1, 3.35 ERA) takes the mound for the Patriots while left handed pitcher Jake Fisher(8-7, 3.91 ERA) is on the hill for Long Island.

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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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