Wow

Bridgeport, CT – The Somerset Patriots scored five two-out runs in the top of the 9th inning to storm back from a four-run deficit and snatch an 11-10 win from the Bridgeport Bluefish in the opener of a four-game series at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. The win was the eighth come-from-behind victory and the tenth last at-bat win for the Patriots this season, as well as their second in two nights.

Down 10-6 heading into their final at-bat, Somerset picked up an early baserunner when Antonio Alfonseca hit Noah Hall with a pitch. But the Patriots would quickly be down to their last out after a Matt Hagen groundout and a Michael Hernandez strikeout. When Joe Burke hit a roller to the left side, Tim Johnson, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th, booted the ball, allowing Hall to reach third safely and putting Burke aboard, continuing the inning. Elliott Ayala followed with a run-scoring single to right field, cutting the deficit to three. Facing a 1-2 count, JR Hopf lifted a soft liner towards Johnson at short who reached up and snared the ball, seemingly ending the game. As the fans cheered and the Bluefish exited their dugout to celebrate, home plate umpire Tracy Roles signaled catcher’s interference against Todd Jennings, allowing Hopf to take first and the inning to continue with the bases loaded. Needing to take advantage, David Housel delivered a double, bringing Burke and Ayala home to make it a one-run game. After Alfonseca (0-2) walked Wayne Lydon to load the bases for the second time in the inning, Bluefish manager Willie Upshaw called for his closer Jorge Julio to get the final out against Tim Raines Jr. who swung at the first pitch, sending a grounder up the third base line. The ball hugged the chalk and squeaked past the bag fair, bringing home Hopf and Housel and putting the Patriots in front 11-10. After all was said and done, the Patriots brought home five unearned runs after two Bridgeport errors and three hits, sending ten men to the plate.

The Patriots were down early after a five-run Bridgeport 2nd inning against starter Justin Jones. The southpaw pitched just 4.0 frames, allowing a Patriot season-high 14 hits and nine runs, six of which were earned while striking out seven. The Bluefish looked to Luis Arroyo for their start as the veteran allowed runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th but left in line for the victory after 6.0 innings, giving up six runs, four earned, on eight hits and four walks. The Patriot offense was blanked for four straight innings, tallying just two hits from the 5th to the 9th, stymied by two shutout innings of relief from Denny Stark who turned a triple play in the 7th after putting the first two runners on base. A failed Hopf bunt attempt turned into a diving Stark grab. The hurler got up, fired to second to double up Burke and a toss to first eliminated Ayala. Stark pitched a perfect 8th before Alfonseca took the loss in the 9th.

The Bluefish had several chances to pad their lead but left the bases loaded on three different occasions, stranding a total of 16 batters. Jones was backed by an outstanding bullpen performance as Jerry Dunn, on for the first time since May 30, allowed one hit in the 6th inning; a solo home run from Brian Barton which gave the Bluefish their 10-6 lead. But it was Matt Reilly’s game to win after he came on in the 7th. Over two innings of work, Reilly (1-0) allowed one hit and walked three batters but did not allow a run to pass, striking out slugger Charlton Jimerson with the bases loaded in the 8th to send the game to the final inning where the Patriots were able to overcome the four-run spread. Ryan Houston pitched a scoreless 9th to notch his 12th save in as many tries, ensuring a third straight Patriots victory.

Somerset (27-19) will get ready for a pair of seven-inning contests with the Bluefish (19-26) on Saturday. Casey Cahill (1-2, 5.67) will make his first start since his high school days, opposed by Kevin Mannix (3-3, 6.75) in game one while Jason Monti (2-3, 3.55) will square off with Jorge Perez (1-0, 2.65) in the nightcap. Coverage begins at 5:00 pm on 1450 WCTC-AM and online at http://www.wctcam.com and http://www.somersetpatriots.com.

NOTES: Jones threw less than 5.0 innings for the first time since May 5 when he went just 4.0 against the York Revolution. Coincidentally, the Patriots came from behind to win that contest as well…Every Patriot starter reached base in the game…Housel tallied a two-RBI base hit in the 2nd inning as well giving him four RBIs for the game; the third time a Patriot has notched four or more RBI this season. It was also Housel’s first multi-hit game of the year…the 17 hits allowed by Somerset ties a season-worst while the 16 runners stranded by Bridgeport is the most left by the Patriots staff this year…Dunn had been on the inactive list since May 31…just two of the 12 Patriot hits were for extra bases.

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