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Somerset Patriots fall to Long Island in Game 2, LCDS tied @ 1-1

Series returns to Somerset tied at one game apiece.

Fresh off an impressive game one win over the Long Island Ducks in the Liberty Division Championship Series at Bethpage Ball Park, the Somerset Patriots attempted to take a commanding 2-0 lead before the series switched back to TD Bank Ball Park for the next three games.

Scoring seven runs, while pounding out 16 hits in game one, Somerset looked to jump out to another fast start in game two but Long Island had better ideas. The Ducks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Lew Ford RBI single off Somerset starting pitcher Mike Antonini.

Having left 10 runners on base in game one, the Patriots looked to improve on that area but fell into the trap, leaving four runners on base through the first two innings. On this night, the Ducks flashed the leather in the infield with second baseman Elmer Reyes and shortstop Dan Lyons making spectacular diving plays on ground balls.

Weaving in and out of jams, Antonini encountered trouble in the fourth with runners on second and third and one out. With Giovanny Alfonzo up at the plate, Antonini uncorked a wild pitch allowing Alex Burg to cross home plate. After striking out Alfonzo, Antonini surrendered a single to Reyes bringing in Delta Cleary Jr. widening the margin to 3-0. Antonini departed after four innings surrendering three runs on seven hits while whiffing four and walking one.

Patriots Manager Brett Jodie on Mike Antonini’s performance on the mound, “He just wasn’t sharp and let a guy on every inning and seemed he was battling himself and never looked comfortable. However he did manage to minimize every inning.”

Stymied by Long Island starter Matt Larkins, Somerset managed to break through in the fifth inning. Olmo Rosario (5-for-5 in game one), reached base safely for a seventh straight time, drawing a two out walk. With runners on first and second, Kyle Roller drilled a single through the hole into right field scoring Alfredo Rodriguez. Larkins left after 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out four and walking seven.

Looking to trim the deficit further with runners on the corner and two outs, David Vidal stepped up to the plate and smoked a grounder that appeared headed for the outfield but Dan Lyons made a terrific diving stab and flipped the ball one-handed to Reyes at second for the final out of the inning. Somerset had one more golden opportunity, loading up the bases with two outs in the sixth. Facing new pitcher Rob Rogers, Rodriguez flied out to right field.

“We grinded out some AB’s and threatened at times, problem is we waited until the there were two outs which is never late but you don’t leave too much room for error,” said Jodie. “We never gave up and kept pressing and worked the pitch counts and did a good job of getting on base but never got the big hit to push it across and tie it up or take the lead.”

Lucas Irvine took over the pitching duties for the Patriots in the fifth and got off to a solid start retiring the side in order. Irvine’s only blemish in three innings of relief occurred in the sixth when Long Island catcher Alex Burg crushed a lead off home run over the right field wall. Meanwhile, Rosario’s streak of reaching base ended at eight in the seventh inning flying out to right field.

Now the Liberty Division Championship Series switches back to TD Bank Ball Park in Bridgewater, New Jersey for Games 3 & 4 and if necessary Game 5. Game 3 is Friday at 7:05 p.m.

“The goal coming in to split, you want to win both obviously and try to go home and win the series,” Jodie said.

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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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