Bullpen Comes Through In Win Over Ducks

(PR) Central Islip, NY – Elliott Ayala’s pinch-hit two-run homer put Somerset up, and 5.1 scoreless innings from the bullpen kept the Patriots on top as they defeated the Long Island Ducks 10-5 on Wednesday night at Suffolk County Sports Park, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Ayala came on for Noah Hall in the 6th inning with Wayne Lydon on third base. Former big leaguer and Long Island starter Kip Wells got behind in the count and saw Ayala blast a homer – his first of the season and first since August 15, 2009 – to left field, putting Somerset in front 7-5. Hits from Lydon and Iggy Suarez in the 7th brought home a pair and a run-scoring base hit from Pete LaForest in the 8th helped to double up Long Island en route to the win.

Meanwhile, the Patriots bullpen – which had taken the losses in the first two games of the series – was spotless between Casey Cahill, Jeff Kennard, and Carlos Hines. Cahill (3-4) took over for starter Justin Jones in the 4th inning of a tie game and proceeded to toss 3.1 innings, allowing just three hits, inducing a double play in the 5th to get out of the only real jam he faced. Kennard pitched the 8th and Hines threw the 9th to finish out the scoreless bullpen effort.

Wells (1-2) and Jones were both roughed up in their starts as the offenses battled back and forth. Somerset took an early lead, banging out four base hits in a 36-pitch 1st inning, batting around to plate three runs. Run-scoring hits from Joe Burke, Jeff Nettles, and Josh Pressley staked Jones to a 3-0 advantage. The Ducks would answer back in the 2nd, knocking three straight hits off Jones to drive in two runs but Somerset would counter with two more in the 3rd. Pressley and LaForest notched RBIs, putting Somerset up 5-2.

Jones, after a perfect 3rd, struggled in the 4th inning as Javier Colina and Dustan Mohr reached with hits. Matt Esquivel, already with a RBI in the 2nd, launched a line drive homer to left, tying the game at 5-5. Jones would walk two more and exited after 3.2 innings, yielding seven hits and five runs.

With a short bullpen behind him, Wells (1-2) – in just his fourth Atlantic League start – labored through 6.0 innings, allowing nine hits and seven runs while walking six and striking out four. Julio Guerrero gave up three runs over 3.0 innings as Somerset totaled 17 hits on the night.

Somerset (7-13, 43-47) finishes its series with the Long Island Ducks (10-10, 46-44) on Thursday when former Major Leaguer and long-time Duck Bill Pulsipher (0-0, 3.00) takes on his former team. Jake Dittler (8-7, 4.76) will have the ball for Long Island at 7:00 pm from Suffolk County Sports Park with coverage on 1450 WCTC-AM and online at http://www.wctcam.com and http://www.somersetpatriots.com.

NOTES: Ayala’s homer marked just the fourth pinch-hit by a Patriot in 23 at-bats this season…it is Ayala’s 3rd multi-RBI game this year…the win was just the fourth in 13 meetings against Long Island this year and the third in the last 12 in Central Islip…the Patriots were errorless for the fourth time in five games…the 17 hits is the second highest total this year for Somerset, just shy of a team-best 18 on June 17 against Long Island…Suarez’s base hit was just his 4th knock in his last 34 at-bats since June 1…Pressley finished the night 3-4 with two RBI. David Housel pinch-ran for Pressley in the 8th…Lydon notched a three-hit game while Burke, Ayala, Nettles, and LaForest all had two hits…Hall left the game to tend to a family emergency…Tim Raines Jr. was the only Patriot (with a plate appearance) without a hit. He is just 6-40 against Long Island pitching this year.

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