07/12/2019 10:08 AM -
By Marco Meglio
Bridgewater, NJ- The Somerset Patriots enjoyed another impressive first half in 2019, as the team closed out the 70-game mark of the season with a win and an announcement of eight players that were selected to the All-Star Game.
Somerset headed into the break with a 42-28, trailing Long Island by just a half a game for the Liberty Division lead. It also marked the second-best overall record in the Atlantic league.
The team was consistent both home and away from TD Bank Ballpark, with a 20-13 record at home and a league-best 22-15 record on the road.
Somerset’s pitching staff led the way in the first half. They owned a league-best 3.23 ERA; 0.29 better than the next closest team (High Point). That equates to just 216 earned runs over 601.2 innings of work, including 530 strikeouts (third in the Atlantic League).
At the front of the rotation has been right-hander David Kubiak. No pitcher has been more dominant through the first half than Kubiak. The third-year Patriot leads the league in ERA (1.76), wins (7), strikeouts (82), opponents’ batting average (.173), WHIP (0.90) and win percentage (.880). He also ranks in the top five in innings pitched and games started.
Kubiak has help behind him. Brett Oberholtzer, David Holmberg, Liam O’Sullivan, Thomas Dorminy and mid-May acquisition Ryan Kussmaul have provided quality starting pitching in their own respective ways. Dorminy’s 2.34 ERA would rank second if he were a qualified pitcher (he’s 8.1 IP shy of being qualified). Additionally, the southpaw has yielded only three runs over his last five starts, spanning 31.1 innings (0.86 ERA).
Behind the starters, the bullpen’s gatekeeper has been closer Mike Antonini. The head honcho of the crew, Antonini led the league in saves (25) with a 2.17 ERA through the first 70 games. He was on pace to break Jon Hunton’s single-season record of 49 saves in 2014 before having his contract purchased to by Puebla of the Mexican League.
The rest of the ‘pen has come into its own over the course of the first 70 games. Newly acquired Jonathan Cheshire has been phenomenal in his short order, tossing nine scoreless appearances to begin his Patriots tenure, including two six-out saves. Luis Cruz has allowed one earned run over his last 16 outings and owns a 2.60 ERA on the year, while Mike Broadway has also impressed with a 40:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first 28 relief appearances.
Offensively, the Patriots have attacked opponents with a both patient, yet aggressive approach. They have collectively struck out the least amount of times of any team in the league, while still swiping the second-most bags. Six players have accounted for at least seven stolen bases, with Mike Crouse’s 13 leading the bunch.
Five different position players represented the team in the Mid-Summer Classic: Will Kengor, Mike Ohlman, Ramon Flores, Justin Pacchioli and Alfredo Rodriguez. The two newcomers, Kengor and Ohlman, have settled in nicely to their roles as middle of the lineup hitters. Kengor cruised into the break with the league’s second highest average with .342 while Ohlman owned the league’s second-longest on-base streak (26 games) and third-longest hit streak (15 games).
Flores has arguably been the team’s most consistent bat. The second-year Patriot slashed .314 (fifth in league) with 38 RBI and a .404 OBP (third in league). He has become the new presence at the leadoff position for the majority of the first half.
After joining the team after the season began, Edwin Espinal and Jimmy Paredes made immediate contributions. Espinal has provided the pop, with four home runs and a memorable game winning walk-off grand slam in his debut. Meanwhile, in just 13 games with Somerset, Paredes has smacked five home runs with 15 RBI.
At TD Bank Ballpark, the vibe has resonated from the team to the fans. The team drew crowds of at least 6,000+ fans in six-straight games over back-to-back homestands in June, including an Atlantic League-high 8,205 fans on Saturday, June 15th. Somerset leads the league in average attendance (5,589 fans) and have in total brought over 162,000 fans through the turnstiles so far this year.
Groups, season-ticket holders, sponsors and fans enjoyed a number of unique promotions in the first half, including two game-worn jersey auctions, eight postgame fireworks shows, countless giveaways and an extremely popular celebration of the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets.
The second half of the season promises to be just exciting, with more unique theme nights, celebrity appearances, postgame fireworks and a playoff push on tap at the “Jewel of the Atlantic League.”