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Playoff implications on the line as Somerset hosts Long Island

BRIDGEWATER N.J. – It appears to be that the two times Somerset and Long Island met this month were leading to a big grand finale as the first half of the season dwindles down.

Does it seem fitting that the two clubs will play for a third time with playoff implications and the potential tiebreaker on the line? Absolutely.

The Patriots and Ducks share the top spot in the Atlantic League’s Liberty Division at 36-23 with nine days until a first-half champion is crowned. Somerset will play one more game than Long Island before the break.

“Our whole division is tight and has been for a while,” Somerset manager Brett Jodie said. “It’s a good division and everyone’s been playing good so it’s going to be a tough fight. Obviously [this is] a big series but all of them are. If we win two out of three and [Long Island] wins two out of three, everyone’s still in it, and High Point and New Britain are playing well too. No matter how you look at it we need to take care of our business.”

The six games played between Long Island and Somerset has them deadlocked at 3-3 and shows the Ducks holding a one run lead 18-17. The Patriots possess a bit of momentum after Long Island dropped its last two to New Britain while the Patriots took the latter of its series against Lancaster granting them a share for first place.

High Point won its last four and are one game out of the top spot as well. Should there be a tiebreaker between the Ducks and Patriots, the title would go to whoever leads the season series. Should there be a three-way tie for first, the crown goes to the team with the best combined record against the other two teams.

Somerset’s rotation and bullpen have been a guiding force throughout the last few weeks as they boast a league-best ERA of 3.29 and a whopping 441 strikeouts. Over the last five games, which they have gone 4-1, they’ve posted a 1.26 ERA. Mike Antonini has been its star closer posting 23-for-25 in save opportunities and owns a 1.08 ERA.

In the batting order, Jimmy Paredes joined the team after visa issues kept him from fulfilling his baseball duties. Since returning to the team he boasts a .308 batting average in 13 plate appearance.

“He’s a very good player obviously but it’s tough for anybody to come in here and hit the ground running with no spring training,” Jodie said. “He looks pretty good. Bat speed looks pretty good, just needs to make sure he doesn’t get too sore. He’s been doing a lot of cage work and stuff at home. Definitely, love having his bat in the lineup. Hopefully he can hit the ground running, he was in that first game he’s taken some good swings since then too.”

Capitalizing on every opportunity down the stretch is the main thing Jodie says he’d like to see as the first half wraps up.

Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest on the Somerset Patriots and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

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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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