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Patriots return home after lengthy road trip

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. – 11 days, 10 games and 3,334 miles later there is Atlantic League baseball at TD Bank Ballpark.

Somerset went 4-6 over its longest road trip of the season which began against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on May 24, and was followed up by a lengthy affair against its Liberty Division rival the Sugar Land Skeeters where they lost five of seven.

The common series usually lasts three games, occasionally a series will be four-games but anything above that sounds a bit unorthodox concerning the structure of a baseball schedule.

How did the Patriots get stuck in the middle of a seven-game series where all nine innings were played and there were no doubleheaders?

The reason: it is simply more cost effective.

Pitching coach and Director of Baseball Operations Jon Hunton said only during his time in Somerset did he have to play a seven-game series on the road where he played the same opponent.

“It’s always rough playing the same team,” said Hunton, who is the Atlantic League’s all-time saves leader with 167. “I think it was the first time in my career where I had to go on the road for 10 days in a row. You don’t do that too often.”

Infielder Will Kengor, who never played seven straight games against a single opponent in a matter of a week, said the experience certainly had a different feel to it.

“You feel like you move in [to the city] for a little while,” Kengor said. “You get into a routine on the road because the road can be kind of hectic with trying to find something to do before the game or get to the gym. It’s nice to have that stability.”

Some of the challenges that come with playing on the road Kengor said can be finding places to eat and in some cases finding things to do. He said that some of the guys like to play cards and video games to keep busy during the trip

And, of course, get a ton of food.

Infielder Scott Kelly is the longest tenured member of the Patriots in the middle of his sixth season with the team. He has played his fair share of opponents during that time and while a series that long is rare, he saw it as a chance to fine tune some of the things that may not have worked so well in the early games.

“You can kind of get a better idea of how they’re pitching because it’s seven games therefore you have more at bats,” said Kelly who went 3-for-3 in his last game on June 2. “Essentially you want to stick to your approach and always make adjustments when needed.”

When asked about who the life of the party is when it comes to road trips, Kengor immediately mentioned Kelly’s name.

“He said that about me?” Kelly asked through a smile. “I’m very grateful for him saying something like that. When there are 30 good dudes in the clubhouse everyday, it creates good chemistry. We’ll really use each other as leverage for assistance and whatever he said about me, [Kengor] is a party to watch at the plate.”

Somerset opens a seven-game home stand and will face the Southern Maryland and York Revolution.

Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest news on the Somerset Patriots and the Atlantic League.

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Dylan is a sophomore journalism major at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and covers the Somerset Patriots and Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He is also the Sports Editor of Rider's student newspaper, The Rider News.
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