Game 23: Post-Game Notes

— How?  How do the Patriots keep doing this?  How do they look like they’re out of a game and come out of nowhere time and time again?

They were down 3-1 heading into the 9th inning…and Joe Burke’s walk-off fielder’s choice — ever the glamorous way to win in your last at-bat — gave them a big 4-3 win.

“I think it’s just our philosophy that we’re never out of a game,” Burke said.

“There are guys out there who probably weren’t playing in the beginning and now we’re all in there and trying to win ballgames.”

Somerset starter Josh Miller agreed that it seems his team is never out of a game…

“I don’t think it’s anything like we don’t go all out from the get go,” Miller said.

“It just happens that we get some situations and we take advantage of them late in the game.  Everybody’s professional, everybody’s been around, and we all know what we’re doing.  We got the big hits when we needed to.”

— Burke’s Patriots debut behind the plate went well…however, the team tried out two catchers after the first game, including Mike Santoro and someone from the open tryout.

“It went OK, but it’s been a while,” Burke said.

“My hip is sore, but other than that, I’m OK.  After the first couple innings, I settled down and almost had a chance to throw somebody out.  It was close.  But yeah, I felt OK.”

Also OK was Burke’s ninth inning grounder to second base…which he thought was going to have Joe Holden dead to rights at the plate.

“I knew he was going on contact.  He left that pitch up a little bit, and I was trying to hook it to the right side,” Burke said.

“I wanted the guys to have to move a little bit, and make a throw.  At first, I thought he was going to be out at the plate.  But I know Joe’s quick, so I was hoping it would be a tough play or a bad throw.  And it was.”

— Matt Hagen’s bunt in the ninth inning surprised both Hagen and the Riversharks.  It isn’t often you see the cleanup hitter laying a bunt down, but it’s that exact kind of selfless play that has keyed many a Patriots victory.

“In that situation, coming up, the only thing I was thinking was to drive in that run,” Hagen told me.

“I got the sign from Trav, and I knew they weren’t expecting it because I wasn’t expecting it.  Burkey’s been swinging a hot bat…luckily, I was able to get it down.”

Bunting, says Hagen, is something that he and “Coach Anderson” have been working on lately.

“It’s funny you mention that, because I’ve been working on that with Coach Anderson recently just in case that situation came up.  Oddly enough, the situation came up.”

— Burke’s batterymate, Josh Miller, turned in a solid 8 inning outing…

“I felt pretty good,” Miller said.

“There was a chill to it out there, like there has been for pretty much all my starts.  But the wind wasn’t blowing, so it felt comfortable.  It was fun throwing to Joe, he hadn’t caught in a while, and we’re good buddies.  It was fun.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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