Patriots Complete Comeback in Thriller: Game Recap 6/24

NEW JERSEY — It didn’t come pretty, but it came nonetheless.DH Corey Smith continued his hot hitting at the right time, supplying the Somerset Patriots (39-20) with a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to provide a sweep of the Bridgeport Bluefish, 6-5. Tuesday night positively ends the team’s five-game series at TD Bank Ballpark in New Jersey.

The Patriots, who trailed 5-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, needed a spark as their offense had gone cold. It was 3B Brian Barden that started the Patriots’ rally by driving both Smith and CF Luis Montanez on an error. 1B Ty Wright then returned the favor by scoring Barden on a single to center field, to slim the lead to 5-3, giving Somerset a slight glimmer of hope.

Then, down 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th, Aharon Eggleston walked on four pitches, stole second, and saw Mike Wilson advanced to first. With one out, hot-hitting Smith stepped to the plate, entering the situation with game-winning hits in the Patriots’ last two victories against the Bluefish. Smith was poised to deliver yet again.
The Patriots celebrate on-field after their 6-5 victory against the Bridgeport Bluefish. CREDITS:

The 32-year-old drilled an 1-0 pitch to deep centerfield, allowing both Eggleston and Wilson to score, and completed off a frantic comeback with more clutch heroics.

Starting pitcher Erik Arnesen (7-3, 4.08 ERA) gave the Patriots a solid complete game – 9 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs on 95 pitches and 65 strikes. Arnesen let up the 5 quick runs, but settled down as the innings elapsed. At one point in the game, Arnesen had retired the last 15 batters he faced with an efficient 70 pitches through 7 innings. (source)Arnesen was forced to be on top of his game, as Bridgeport starter Matt Iannazzo was putting on a show of his own. Iannazzo (1-2, 2.32 ERA) stifled the Patriots for 6 innings, allowing just 3 runs on 8 hits.

Bridgeport jumped out to an early lead after a 2-run homerun from Denny Almonte in the 2nd inning, and a 3-run barrage in the 3rd inning. The Patriots’ defense looked shaky to start, committing 3 fielding errors that led to Bluefish tallies. The offense didn’t help the cause, either, finishing the game by stranding 9 runners on base compared to Bridgeport’s 2.

But, for the 23rd time in the 2014 season, the Patriots came back and won. The victory also represents the team’s ninth win in their final at-bat.

For Somerset, it completes a successful home stand against the Bluefish, sweeping the five game series, including two 5-1 games. The teams next meet on July 4th in New Jersey. Somerset now travels to Texas for a four-game set against the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Official game recap graphic from

  • In the Liberty Division Race, Somerset leads the Long Island Ducks, who were idle on Tuesday, by 5 games. Somerset’s magic number is now shrunk to 7 – the combination of Patriots wins and Ducks losses needed for Somerset to win the first half of the Atlantic League two-half season.
  • The Patriots have won three walk-off games in 2014.
  • Corey Smith finished the Bridgeport series with 8 RBI. Of his five home runs this season, four have come against Bridgeport.


Patriots manager Brett Jodie before the game: “I feel good about where we are [as a team], but I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement. … I think we’re all kind of coming together and doing those little things necessary to win a lot of ball games. … I still think we haven’t gotten everyone clicking on all cylinders all the time. … Obviously I’m happy where we are, but there’s still room for improvement.”

DH Corey Smith before the game: “As a whole, the team is starting to come together real well. We’re starting to hit more consistently as a lineup, our pitching has been pretty much great all year … so for us, I think the main thing is to get our bats going consistently, keep having good at-bats and putting pressure on the other team’s defense, and we’ll be just fine.”
Responding to whether there is panic when bats aren’t hot (like start of the season): “In this game, if you panic, that’s when stuff really gets bad. … The main thing you want to do is stay consistent with your work. … With this kind of a lineup, we’re definitely more of a glass-half-full than glass-half-empty team.”

Starting pitcher Matt Zielinski before the game about the pitching staff: “As a whole, as a group, overall this season, we’ve done a good job.” Zielinski on if he’d wear MLB’s padded cap: “As long as you’re safe out there, that’s all that matters … I don’t know if I would, it’s a good question. I guess I’d have to try it on a few times and see how it feels.”

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Amiri Tulloch

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