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September 21, 2007 – Game One September 21, 2007

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POSTGAME: Ask the Patriots, and Jose Morban was safe. Ask the Bears, and he was out. Either way, the great stab at third by Corey Smith was a hot topic in both clubhouses after the game. Check out these quotes and see for yourself.

SPARKY LYLE

“(The) pitching fell short tonight. You want to win that first game, and we didn’t. We’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, I thought he was safe. Absolutely. It was a bang bang play, but he was on the bag. But that’s part of it. That’s the worst part about it, you can’t put it in their hands.”

“Richardson had a good outing, and Marsonek got out of a good jam and then couldn’t get it done. Especially when you’re up 6-3, we should have put that game away.”

“We’re not sure (of the game two starter) right now. We’re probably going to make a decision on that when we get here tomorrow.”

JASON RICHARDSON

“I felt good tonight, just the one hit was bad timing. That’s just how it works.”

“(The hit to Smith) was a breaking ball, down and away. He went and got it, and hit it a little too deep in the hole at short, and Jose had to kind of go back for it. It was a tough play, a tough ball to get to. It was tough, definitely.”

COREY SMITH

“I really just wanted to knock it down. But when I got to it, I tried to get rid of it as quick as I could, and I beat him by about a half a step.”

“Yeah, I thought he was out. The umpire called him out, so he was out.”

“With this offense, you can’t get lax on defense because we’re going to hit. Our pitchers did a great job keeping us in it, and we ended up coming back and putting some runs up.”

WAYNE KRENCHICKI

“Obviously, it was a great play. You make a play like that to your left on your knees and then throw a guy out — and he was out — that’s kind of how we played defense when we were in Long Island. We had a hell of a defensive series against Long Island, and it was just indicative of what’s been going on.”

“We didn’t lead the league in hitting for no reason. We’re going to hit, and we’re going to put some runs up on the board. You don’t like to get behind 6-3, that’s for sure. But we’ve got some guys that keep fighting and keep fighting. We’ve got good hitters on this ballclub, and there’s not a lot of holes in there where you can pitch to their weaknesses. It was a good overall comeback, especially coming right back after we gave up the five.

ASHMORE ANALYSIS

Sparky Lyle’s three most trusted relievers; Paul Thorp, Saul Solveson and R.D. Spiehs were nowhere to be seen in this game.

It’s easy to second guess things after a loss, but I have a hard time believing that Sam Marsonek and Casey Cahill were better options than any of the above — although I probably would have said the same about Richardson, and look at what he did…he didn’t deserve the loss tonight.

The mood in the Patriots clubhouse after the game was as you’d expect it to be — not good.

While the Morban play at the end of the game was pretty much one of the big stories, what happened after it was interesting as well.

Morban spiked his helmet into the ground in the general direction of the first base umpire, who did not see Morban do this. The helmet did not hit the umpire, nor did it come close to doing so.

The call angered the Patriots, many of whom made it out of the dugout by a few steps to express their displeasure.

Meanwhile, something that surely didn’t sit well with Somerset either was the Bears celebration, jumping up and down by second base in a big pile. It looked like a championship celebration to me.

I asked Sparky directly about tomorrow’s starter — and although it’s slated to be Keith Ramsey, I’d be surprised to see him on the mound tomorrow. I bet it’s Brian Adams.

Live Updates: Bears 7 – Patriots 6, final

NWK 0 3 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 — 7 12 1
SOM 1 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 — 6 10 2

TOP 1ST

Castro 6-3
Gomes 5-3 (tremendous stop and long throw for Larson)
Reed BB (3-1 pitch just outside)
Colina 1-3

BOTTOM 1ST

Ayala 5-3 (low Smith throw picked by V-Rod)
Lockwood F-7 (first pitch)
Olivares 2B (one hop double off right center field fence)
Larson H (RBI broken bat single up the middle, half of bat lands in infield)

Larson steals second, Pachot throw into CF, Larson advances to third – Error, Pachot

Morban BB

Morban attempts to steal second, throw beats him easily…Morban stops…Larson breaks for home…throw comes home, Larson doesn’t slide and is tagged out…Pachot spikes ball into ground

Leathers (was at-bat when that happened)

TOP 2ND

Rodriguez H (long single off the wall in left, V-Rod takes big turn)
Smith 1-4 FC (high chopper to pitcher, Wiggins throws to second, throw just beats Rodriguez for the force)
Mateo 2B (RBI double to deep left center, Smith scores from first)
Herrera BB (Wild pitch on the fourth ball advances Mateo to third)
Pachot 2B (2 RBI, Lockwood initially breaks in on ball, ball lands over Lockwood’s head after he retreats. Herrera scores when Olivares drops ball on relay, Pachot thrown OUT at third)
Castro K (swinging, 3-2 count)

BOTTOM 2ND

Leathers H (single through the left side)
Pressley K (swinging on a pitch down and in)
Romano K (swinging)
Belcher 6-4 FC (Leathers out at second, play was not close)

TOP 3RD

Gomes F-7
Reed H (single up the middle, just over outstretched glove of Wiggins)
Colina F-9 (to fairly deep right field, Reed does not tag)
Rodriguez 5-3 (Larson with a great scoop at third to corral the hard hit ball)

BOTTOM 3RD

Ayala HBP (Ayala hops up and down and heads in the general direction of the mound, but did not appear to be mad at Woodyard. The umpire stepped in front of him anyway)
Lockwood 3UA (pulled a 0-2 fastball just foul of the right field foul pole before grounding out)

(Ayala thrown out stealing second…umpire circles play twice, calls him out)

Olivares F-8

TOP 4TH

Smith 2B (down the left field line, just past the glove of Larson)

SAM MARSONEK getting loose in the bullpen for Somerset.

Mateo K (swinging)
Herrera BB

SCOTT WIGGINS pulled after 3.1 innings. SAM MARSONEK (6-8, 5.03) enters game. This is Marsonek’s first appearance of the postseason.

Marsonek’s first pitch (!!!) is in the dirt, advancing the runners to second and third.

Pachot K (swinging, breaking ball)
Castro 6-3 (Marsonek recovers, does not allow a hit or run)

WIGGINS LINE: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP

BOTTOM 4TH

Larson HR (first pitch, over the left center field wall)
Morban F-7
Leathers 2B (over the head of Mateo, who appeared to have been able to catch the ball)
Pressley 2B (RBI, lined down the right field line, Pressley slides headfirst into second)
Romano BB (four pitch walk…Foucault visits mound)
Belcher BB (started out 0-2, worked count full and drew walk)

BASES LOADED — NO ACTION IN BEARS BULLPEN

Ayala F-8 (RBI…Pressley tags, Reed throw up the first base line — Pressley scores)

LEFTY GETTING LOOSE FOR BEARS

Lockwood 2B (2 RBI…lined down the right field line…literally kicks up chalk on the first base line when it landed…Romano and Belcher score)

WOODYARD PULLED…JERIOME ROBERTSON (5-5, 4.89) ENTERS THE GAME…First appearance of postseason

Olivares K

WOODYARD’S LINE — 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP

TOP 5TH

Gomes H (single up the middle)
Reed 2B (deep to left center field, throw beats him to second, but he avoids the tag)

Wild pitch by Marsonek scores Gomes, advances Reed to third

Colina H (RBI, scores Reed)
Rodriguez 5-3 (chopper to third, Colina to second)

JASON RICHARDSON GETTING LOOSE

Smith K (swinging)
Mateo H (RBI — single up the middle, Colina scores…Marsonek cuts off the throw home, tries to pick Mateo off at first, throws over Leathers, allowing Mateo to advance to second…ERROR to Marsonek)
Herrera 3UA

BOTTOM 5TH

Larson BB
Morban F-8
Leathers K (swinging)
Pressley H (single up the middle, Larson to 2nd)
Romano 1-3 (slow tapper to Robertson, easy out at first)

ATTENDANCE ANNOUNCED AT 5,043

PITCHING CHANGE — JASON RICHARDSON (2-4, 4.37) in for MARSONEK. Richardson has one playoff appearance, being ejected from last night’s game after hitting a batter.

TOP 6TH

Pachot P-3 (Tough play by Leathers, ranging back and towards the stands…ball was in foul territory)
Castro K (looking, breaking ball)
Gomes 5-3 (first pitch)

BOTTOM 6TH

BEARS HAVE A RIGHTY GETTING LOOSE

Belcher K (swinging)
Ayala BB (started 3-0, squared to bunt and took strike one)
Lockwood F-7 (hard hit, but right to Mateo)

PITCHING CHANGE — ROBERTSON OUT, JUSTIN HUISMAN (3-1, 1.79) IN. Huisman has made one scoreless appearance this postseason, allowing one hit in one inning.

Olivares 6-3 (started 3-0)

TOP 7TH

Reed K (swinging, 1-2 count)
Colina K (swinging, full count)
Rodriguez (6-3, weak broken bat grounder)

BOTTOM 7TH

Larson F-8 (long fly ball to left center, Reed makes running catch to his right)
Morban K (swinging)
Leathers H (looping single to LF)

BEARS HAVE LEFTY WARMING

Pressley 6UA

TOP 8TH

Jason Richardson comes out for his third inning. Wooooooow…

Smith H (infield single to Morban deep in the hole…Smith just beats the throw)

CASEY CAHILL WARMING UP

Mateo K

RICHARDSON OUT, CAHILL (4-1, 3.60) IN. Cahill made one appearance against Camden. We shall never speak of it again.

Herrera 3-6 FC (hard grounder to Leathers, Leathers throws to short for out #1, but Morban’s throw is wide and Leathers can’t control it. Herrera stays at first.)
Pachot H (looping single to center, Herrera to second)
Castro H (single up the middle, just past a diving Olivares. Herrera scores)
Gomes FC

BOTTOM 8TH

SHAUN BABULA (1-0, 4.05) ENTERS GAME. Third appearance of postseason.

HECTOR ALMONTE UP IN PATS PEN

Romano 5-3
Belcher F-8 (Sliding catch by Reed)
Ayala 1-3

TOP 9TH

HECTOR ALMONTE (2-0, 5.34) IN GAME. Second playoff appearance

Reed K (swinging)
Colina 6-3
Rodriguez F-9

RIGHTY UP FOR BEARS…PROBABLY HILL

BOTTOM 9TH

BABULA COMES OUT FOR 9TH

Lockwood 5-3 (Smith was playing in, easy grounder to him)

BABULA OUT, JEREMY HILL (3-0, 1.96) IN. Hill is 1-0 with a save in two playoff games.

Olivares H (looping base hit to right center)
Larson 2-3 (takes first two pitches for strikes, third pitch just outside…chopper in front of plate, Pachot throws to first. Olivares to second)
Morban grounds to third…DIVING STOP BY SMITH, THROW TO FIRST…JUST IN TIME

FINAL, 7-6 BEARS. BEARS UP 1-0.

Starting Lineups:

BEARS

Castro, SS
Gomes, DH
Reed, CF
Colina, 2B
Rodriguez, 1B
Smith, 3B
Mateo, LF
Herrera, RF
Pachot, C
Woodyard, P

PATRIOTS

Ayala, RF
Lockwood, CF
Olivares, 2B
Larson, 3B
Morban, SS
Leathers, 1B
Pressley, DH
Romano, LF
Belcher, C
Wiggins, P

Pre-Game Notes: Right now, the Newark Bears have “TBD” listed as their game five starter. And that’s fine with them, because they don’t seem to think this series is going the distance.

“I don’t think this series is going five games,” said manager Wayne Krenchicki when asked about a potential fifth game starter.

Pitching coach Steve Foucault echoed somewhat similar sentiments.

“We’re not really thinking about that until it happens. When it does, then we’ll make a decision,” he said.

Here are some other quotes from my conversations with Krenchicki, Foucault and Brett Jodie.

KRENCHICKI

“Games are won on momentum and pitching, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen from night to night. It takes good pitching to win these ballgames, and that’s what we’re going to expect. They’ve pitched well, and we’ve pitched well all year long.”

“We’re not going to worry about a split (of the two games in Somerset) or anything like that. I’m going out for tonight’s game. We’ve never faced their pitcher, they’ve never faced ours. This team’s not playing tight, they’re playing confident. That’s what we did in Long Island, and we expect to have the same atmosphere here — playing loose and playing well.”

“I definitely thought we would be here, I didn’t have any doubts in my mind. I kind of laugh about the way some of their front office people went about their comments and people wanting to know why I didn’t take home field advantage. I expect that when I pitch my number one pitcher at home, we’re going to be up 1-0, and I only have to win (one of) two games on the road, where we’ve had a better record all year long. One out of two games on the road and it’s over, but we won two in a row.”

FOUCAULT

“Absolutely (I’m happy the way the rotation set up), this is exactly how we planned it. It turned out perfect.”

Any chance of Eckert getting switched with Bergman for game two?

“No, not at all. No chance.”

“We’ve been using Jeremy (Hill) the last two weeks to close games out. We have a lot of options down there, and we have a lot of options where we can kind of pick and choose. We don’t have to bring a guy in for two or three innings to pitch. We’ll set it up batter-to-batter if we have to, we have enough of them.”

“We had a lot of guys injured, and we lost a lot of guys. It was like a day-to-day thing, sometimes we had one pitcher that could pitch that night. A lot of other nights, it was only two or three guys that could pitch. It was tough, but the starting pitchers we brought in did a great job and we held it together.”

“In a matchup like that (where our first two pitchers haven’t faced their lineup), that would favor the pitcher, but you still have to make pitches. You have to get them out. But if there is an advantage to that, it goes towards the pitcher.”

JODIE

“It depends on the approach (to seeing a pitcher you’ve never seen before), if the guy’s pounding the strike zone, you can’t take a lot of pitches. It was like with Viera, when we saw him, we didn’t really have too much of an idea of what he had, and he really just picked around the strike zone. It’s just a feeling out process of seeing what they’ve got and putting the bat on the ball the first time through and the second time through and trying to understand what the guy has. If the guy doesn’t execute pitches, hopefully we can hit them. If he does, it’s going to be more difficult. Hopefully, he can make some mistakes and we can get the bat on the ball.”

“(Adams pitching game two) could happen, yeah. I’m thinking about that today, and I’ll probably make a decision later on. But as of right now though, it’s going to be Wiggins, Ramsey and then Adams. He hasn’t pitched on three days rest all year. I go on what people say, and all the guys out there are saying they’re feeling fine. But you understand that it’s the playoffs and all that stuff. That’s the competitive nature of people, you’ve got to sort through that. Is it the competitiveness saying give me the ball, I’ll take the ball? Are they going to be good, or is it going to be more beneficial to them to get their full rest and they’re going to be great. It’s hard to weigh those options. But I have confidence in Wiggins, Ramsey…I’ve got confidence in all of them.”

“Obviously you’d like to start out with a win anyway, but I guess your biggest fear is losing three and you don’t get to pitch two of your main guys potentially. That’s always in the back of your head, but you can’t be thinking about losing games like that anyway. We’re out there to win, and I really feel like all five of those guys give us a chance to win when we go out there. Ramsey’s had some great starts this year, and he had two bad ones in a row, but that was really it. He gave the team a chance to win, so I have confidence in him too. That decision doesn’t depend solely on whether we win or lose tonight, we’re just going to see how Adams feels and talk to Knight and see if he’s OK possibly going on three days and stuff like that.”

“We could (use Ramsey out of the pen, since he’d be the only lefty) but that’s not really in his element of comfort probably. But we could, we had him and Wiggins down in the bullpen for the whole Camden series just in case we needed something. Thankfully, we had some really good starts and we didn’t need to go to them, but yeah Ramsey could possibly even be in the pen tonight. And obviously if we use him tonight, we’d have to start Adams tomorrow. Those are situations that we have to look at too, that’s more of a day-to-day thing, I really don’t know yet. You’ve got to win one game at a time, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win that game.”

Awards Announced: Here are the post-season All-Stars and year-end award winners…

C – Randy McGarvey
1B – Jesse Hoorelbeke
2B – Javier Colina
3B – Jay Caligiuri
SS – Ramon Castro
UTIL – P.J. Rose and Nate Espy (tie)
OF – Carl Everett
OF – Mike Lockwood
OF – Steven Doetsch
OF – Ray Navarrete
DH – Victor Rodriguez

RHP – Gary Knotts
LHP – Brian Adams

CLOSER – Danny Graves and Derrick DePriest (tie)

MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Jeff Scott
PITCHER OF THE YEAR – Brian Adams
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Victor Rodriguez and Jesse Hoorelbeke (tie)
PARK OF THE YEAR – Commerce Bank Ballpark
GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR – John Brandt

Thoughts: Nothing against Hoorelbeke, but I think it’s a little ridiculous to include him in the Player of the Year race considering his team didn’t make the playoffs, and didn’t even come close in the second half.

Game Photos:

Bears dugout before the game

Bears starter Mark Woodyard

The Bears are being introduced

Pat Boran high fives some teammates during introductions

Pitching Matchups In: Here’s what they are for now. I’d bet a decent amount of money that whatever team loses switches their Game Two and Game Three starters…

G1- NWK Mark Woodyard (2-1, 3.60) vs. SOM Scott Wiggins (2-0, 3.89)
G2- NWK Dusty Bergman (1-0, 1.00) vs. SOM Keith Ramsey (6-9, 4.63)
G3- SOM Brian Adams (15-2, 3.68) vs. NWK Harold Eckert (5-0, 2.59)
G4- SOM Brandon Knight (12-5, 4.03) vs. NWK Jose Garcia (5-0, 5.27)
G5- SOM Lincoln Mikkelsen (2-1, 4.24) vs. NWK TBD

Championship Series Starts Tonight: The Somerset Patriots host the Newark Bears in Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series tonight in Bridgewater.

The Patriots are looking to win their fourth title in ten years, and fourth straight championship in an odd year.

Meanwhile, the Bears are in the playoffs for the first time since they won it all in 2002, and are facing the Patriots in the postseason for the first time since 2001.

That series, won by the Patriots in dramatic fashion, was captured in the award winning documentary, Bottom of the Ninth. I wouldn’t be surprised to walk in the Patriots clubhouse and see that on the big screen television at some point in this series.

But all anyone’s going to be talking about over the next five days is the 2007 versions of these teams, so let’s take a look at who has the edge…

STARTING PITCHING

I think Somerset has a pretty clear advantage here, but Newark certainly has a formidable group at the front end of the rotation as well.

Scott Wiggins, Brian Adams, Keith Ramsey, Brandon Knight and Lincoln Mikkelsen is the likely order in which you’ll see Somerset’s starters, with Adams going on short rest to capitalize on his success at Commerce Bank Ballpark.

I’d expect Mark Woodyard to get the nod in the first game, followed by either Jeriome Robertson, Delvis Pacheco or Dusty Bergman. Harold Eckert could also go on short rest as well. Jose Garcia would likely pitch after whatever game Eckert’s in.

Obviously, those are very rough estimates, and I’ll have projected starters for everyone when I get to the ballpark.

In any event, Adams will likely be named the Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year today, so it’s no stretch to say he’s been the best pitcher in the league this season. Knight has shown he’s a durable strikeout machine, and Mikkelsen pitched well in the exact game they signed him for, which was last night’s “win or go home” Game Three in Camden.

Wiggins had a rough start in the last regular season series against the Riversharks, and Ramsey has been somewhat inconsistent this season, alternating good and bad months. It’s very possible he’s skipped entirely if it comes to that, but he’d still be the only lefty in the bullpen, so he would be used.

Eckert is a pitcher who obviously does not belong in the Atlantic League, and the Bears have done a great job of filling the many holes in their rotation by signing the likes of him, Bergman and Woodyard.

I’m not sure Wayne Krenchicki would be real confident giving the ball to Robertson or Pacheco at this point, with the manager saying earlier this season that Robertson hadn’t been very good and that the team had scored a lot of runs for Pacheco.

But the top end of their rotation is nearly as good as Somerset’s, and can definitely keep them in games at the very least.

ADVANTAGE: Somerset

ONE TO WATCH: Brandon Knight (0-2, 14.21 in two starts vs. Newark this season. The Bears are hitting .375 off of the former Yankee.)

BULLPENS

Maybe a month or two ago, I wouldn’t have trusted the Patriots bullpen as far as I could throw any of them.

But they’ve seemed to pull things together over the last month of the season, playing a key role in the run that propelled Somerset to the best overall record in the league this year.

Casey Cahill, sent to the Road Warriors after a slow start, is now being used in key situations.

Paul Thorp, an outcast from the Yankees organization, has also seen time getting out of jams, which is Saul Solveson’s specialty.

The team’s true fireman, closer R.D. Spiehs, has had more than a few saves that haven’t come too easily, but he’s still gotten the job done, and showed some grit by pitching three innings in Game Two of the Division Series — his longest outing of the season and longest since his final outing of the 2006 season while with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders.

When the game is absolutely on the line, expect to see those one of those four guys on the mound.

Hector Almonte, Sam Marsonek and Jason Richardson will likely be used as long men or in specific situations.

For the Bears, the late season additions of J.J. Trujillo and Shaun Babula paid dividends, bolstering a bullpen that frequently had only one or two pitchers available at times in the second half.

A healthy Justin Huisman provides a big boost as well, but the biggest addition has to be return of Jeremy Hill from Taiwan.

Hill’s return allows him to comfortably slide into the closer role, and will presumably move Jason DiAngelo into a setup role, where he’ll likely have a better chance to succeed.

Newark also has Edwin Almonte available if need be.

ADVANTAGE: None.

ONE TO WATCH: Jason DiAngelo (0-1, 7.04 ERA in seven appearances vs. Somerset this season. Somerset is hitting .405 off of DiAngelo, the highest average the Patriots have off of any current Bears pitcher.)

STARTING LINEUP

From one through nine, the Bears have the strongest starting lineup in the Atlantic League, with Newark leading the league with a whopping .302 average in the regular season — 14 points higher than the next closest team.

Here’s what the Bears sent out for their two victories over Long Island in the Division Series:

Ramon Castro, SS
Joey Gomes, DH
Keith Reed, CF
Javier Colina, 2B
Victor Rodriguez, 1B
Corey Smith, 3B
Ruben Mateo, LF
Jose Herrera, RF
John Pachot, C

There isn’t anyone hitting under .258 in that group, and that number belongs to the 9 hitter, Pachot. Five players are hitting .300 or better, and that includes batting champ Victor Rodriguez, who finished with a .365 average.

The key to the group may be the play of Smith, who hit .571 and slugged 1.286 in the playoffs to help lead the Bears to victory. His playoff OPS was 1.911, which is pretty much disgusting. People have looked at that number and become physically ill because of how ridiculous it is.

Somerset had more home runs this season, and were led by Mike Lockwood with 23. It’s the first time since 2002 that Jeff Nettles, Victor Rodriguez or Ryan Radmanovich didn’t lead the team in longballs.

But Patriots fans, Jeff Nettles isn’t walking through that door. Ryan Radmanovich isn’t walking through that door. Larry Bi…sorry, wrong rant (it’s a Rick Pitino reference). And Victor Rodriguez now plays for the Bears.

And well OK, maybe Nettles is walking through the door, as he’s been spotted at the last few Patriots home games, but he won’t be playing.

The point is, is that Somerset’s had to rely on players other than their usual sources for production this year, and things seem to have worked out.

Somerset’s lineup will probably look something like it did in Game Three, which was…

Elliott Ayala, LF
Mike Lockwood, CF
Teuris Olivares, 2B
Brandon Larson, 3B
Jose Morban, SS
Alan Zinter, 1B
Josh Pressley, DH
Luke Allen, RF
Travis Anderson, C

Although, a scenario in which Anderson and Zinter come out of the lineup and Jason Romano and Jason Belcher are in it wouldn’t be at all surprising. Todd Leathers could also see a start at first base as well.

ADVANTAGE: Bears

ONE TO WATCH: Travis Anderson (hitting .385 in 10 games against Newark, the highest average any active player has against either team in this series.)

BENCH

There is no team deeper than the Patriots in the Atlantic League. It’s like the 2003 team, where bonafide Major Leaguers are on the bench.

Pat Boran has been used as a pinch runner all season, and while he isn’t a true speedster like Marcus Nettles was, he’s one of the smartest baserunners in the league and really knows how to utilize his speed.

Alan Zinter will likely come off the bench in this series, and can hit a home run at any given time. Todd Leathers was once on the bubble of being released, but he’s really stepped up his play as well and could start on just about any other team in the league.

Jason Belcher is a solid DH when he starts, but hasn’t been impressive behind the plate, throwing out just 10 percent of attempted base stealers. But he’s got a nice bat, and can provide a clutch at-bat if needed.

For the Bears, Vic Gutierrez, Pat Peavey and Jason Torres comprise their bench.

Gutierrez is a good singles hitter who hit .311 this season, and is solid as a defensive replacement or if a situation where a bunt is needed arises.

Peavey is a versatile player who can play several positions, and Torres will probably see limited time in this series, if any. Pachot’s arm is just too valuable to take out of the game for any reason.

ADVANTAGE: Patriots

ONE TO WATCH: Jason Belcher (1.008 OPS in eight games against Newark)

OVERALL

This is going to be one hell of a series. Well, at least on paper it should be. This is why the players go through 126 games. This is why I covered 64 Atlantic League games this year. This is why the fans buy their season tickets. This is what everyone’s been waiting for the entire season.

I think it’s a little more evenly matched than some people might expect, as people who haven’t seen Newark on a regular basis don’t understand just how good their lineup really is.

But I think it’s the starting pitching that’s going to dictate this series, and I don’t think the Bears have enough of it at the bottom end. You could see one or two of their pitchers going on short rest to compensate for this if the series goes long enough, and maybe that will work out.

But I don’t think it will, and I think the Patriots have what it takes in terms of top end starting pitching and depth in their lineup to take the series. I think it will probably go four games, but I’ll stick with the prediction I made in the press box before the end of the regular season…

PREDICTION: Patriots in 5

And The Computer Says: In August, my colleague and Courier News writer Ryan Dunleavy and I played an epic seven game series between the Patriots and the Bears on the Atlantic League computer simulation.

Why a seven game series? Why not?

The only real rule that we had was that relief pitchers couldn’t be used in more than two consecutive games, and of course, we wouldn’t be using the same starting pitcher every game.

Keep in mind that because it was in August, a few players that are now on the rosters weren’t in the game. Also, injured players were eligible to play, but players picked up by organizations or released outright were not.

Here’s how this series went down…

Game 1 – Patriots 1, Bears 0. Carlos Mirabal and Keith Ramsey were locked in a pitchers duel through eight innings, with neither allowing a run. Bears relievers walked the bases loaded in the ninth, and Jason Romano won the game with the ever popular walk-off sac fly, despite Somerset having just two hits in the game.

Game 2 – Patriots 7, Bears 2. Mike Lockwood (H, HR) and Jason Romano (H, 2B) each scored two runs, while Alan Zinter and Danny Garcia each drove in two. Brian Adams allowed two runs on six hits over seven and two thirds innings, while Harold Eckert lasted just one inning.

Game 3 – Bears 4, Patriots 2. Vic Gutierrez had a big game, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Ramon Castro and Ruben Mateo each had two hits, and Newark got two key double plays in a very close game. Travis Phelps allowed one run on four hits over seven innings.

Game 4 – Patriots 22, Bears 2. Jose Morban went 4-for-4 with a double, two home runs, three walks and ten RBI in the most thorough a** kicking in ALPB video game history. Every Patriots starter had at least two hits, and Danny Garcia went 4-for-6 with seven RBI. Brandon Knight allowed one run in seven and a third innings.

Game 5 – Bears 7, Patriots 3. On the brink of elimination, the Bears fight back and win. Keith Reed and Corey Smith each hit solo home runs, while Edwin Almonte lasts five innings and allows two runs on five hits in very long relief. Mike Lockwood hits a solo homer in the loss.

Game 6 – Bears 5, Patriots 4, 14 innings. The best game of the series was also the longest, with the game lasting 14 innings. Keith Reed won the game on a walk-off home run, sending the series back to Somerset tied at three. Harold Eckert rebounded from a weak Game Two and allowed four runs over nine innings, despite the Bears offense getting just six hits in the entire game. Elliott Ayala was 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI in the loss.

Game 7 – Patriots 4, Bears 1. Travis Phelps had a no-hitter through six innings, but fell apart in the seventh, leading to a Patriots win. Somerset’s series-clinching run came on an infield hit by Jason Romano. Brandon Knight was named the series MVP after allowing just one run on five hits in seven innings of work, his second strong start of the series.

What Do You Think: You saw my prediction. You saw what the computer said. But you guys have followed the league all season as well. Who’s your pick to take home title in the league’s tenth anniversary season? How many games? Who’s your MVP? Post your thoughts in the comments

Postseason Awards To Be Announced – My Ballot: The Atlantic League is supposed to announce their postseason award winners today. Each team in the league gets one vote and has the option to consult their media members before submitting their collective ballot. As I cover the Somerset Patriots for this site and the weekly paper I write for, I was asked and sent them this…

Catcher – Randy McGarvey
1st Base – Jesse Hoorelbeke
2nd Base – Javier Colina
3rd Base – Jay Caligiuri
SS – Danny Gonzalez
Utility – Pete Rose, Jr.
OF – Ray Navarrete
OF – Mike Lockwood
OF – Carl Everett
OF – Denny Abreu
DH – Victor Rodriguez
RHS – Gary Knotts
LHS – Brian Adams
Closer – Derrick DePriest

Manager – Wayne Krenchicki

Pitcher of Year – Brian Adams
Player of Year – Javier Colina

Park of the Year – Commerce Bank Ballpark

Monthly Awards Announced: Corey Smith was named player of the month for September and Brandon Knight won pitcher of the month. – Mike Ashmore, mashmore98@gmail.com

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Comments»

1. Jeff - September 21, 2007

The Camden game almost got out of hand last night, when I think Somerset overacted when Brandon Larson was hit by an always-wild Aric LeClair. Somerset seemed to have an edge, where they seemed to be looking for trouble. A fight could have easily started from this. Just my thoughts.

Game Story
The game already was out of hand by the time Randy McGarvey got the Riversharks on the scoreboard with two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, but it got truly ugly in the eighth.

Larson had to be carried off the field after taking an Aric LeClair pitch off the knee. With bad blood brewing between the teams all season, home plate umpire Joe Cruz immediately warned both benches, but that warning did not stop the Patriots from retaliating.

“We’ve been getting hit all year,” Lyle said. “And they warn us and don’t let us do anything.”

Hard-throwing right-hander Jason Richardson drilled Raul Marval in the hip leading off the eighth, leading to his own and manager Sparky Lyle’s ejection. Heavily iced, Larson said he still expects to be ready for tonight’s game.

2. hwcwx1 - September 21, 2007

Great Size up with the series but I think the favorite is the Bears in 4 games, Bears will work a split in Somerset and win this thing on Monday night. The Bears hitters I expect will break out big time no matter who is pitching for Somerset. As stated yesterday Wayne has done a great job with this bunch, instead of playing with go karts and footballs before a game when CJ had the team and where ever CJ is he should stay there Wayne has these guys thinking nothing but Baseball. The key to this thing is going to be the Relief Pitching. Going to be a great series. On a side note the Star Ledger should be ashamed of themselves with the non coverage of the NEWARK Bears and the Atlantic League, I’ll be thinking of that paper as my mother is padding the bird cages this afternoon.

3. Z - September 21, 2007

Agreed about the Star Ledger….and many times when they devote even only a paragraph to a Bears game they are wrong, sometimes posting the score of a game that happened 2 days before…I think they are a sponsor of the Bears but their coverage of the Bears is worse than poor..

4. mnlem - September 21, 2007

I will be rooting for the Patriots but this is going to be a tough series and will probably go 5. My favorite team versus my favorite ballpark.

5. tteski - September 21, 2007

It sounds like you guys get about the same newspaper coverage in Newark as we get from Newsday on Long Island. I was surprised to see articles on the two Duck playoff games since they didn’t have more than a 3 line review of the Duck games in the daily editions for most of the season (and those reviews were written from the game recaps on the Duck web site).

6. sharkgirltoo - September 21, 2007

I was at the game last night and of course majorly disappointed with the outcome (mnlem, you got your wish for a blowout!), especially after the first 2 games being so close. The Sharks’ best chance was on Wed.(game 2) but couldn’t get the job done. The Patriots’ bats woke up and blasted the Sharks’ pitching. I thought Powell should start but got roughed up as well as the other Shark pitchers. It was hard and sad to see it end this way and knew it would be difficult for the Sharks to come back from such a huge deficit but was hoping they’d come back (“it ain’t over til it’s over”). I was surprised that the crowd on hand was only about half the amount of people that were there on Wed. night being that it was coming down to this game.
Thanks BaseballGal for getting back to me re: McGarvey. Glad to see him play. He was just about our only offense last night with a 2 run homer. They replaced Brad Strauss for a pinch runner in the 8th or 9th inning so he at least got acknowledged by the (remaining) fans as he walked off the field.
Congrats to the Patriots. Should be a good series with the Bears.

7. Jeff - September 21, 2007

danny graves has to be the closer

8. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - September 21, 2007

On the surface, Graves should be the closer, and undoubtedly will be the closer.

But I disagreed.

The main stat everyone’s going to look at is Graves having 33 saves, which easily led the league.

He also was 4-5, had an ERA of almost four (3.90), and the opposition was hitting .274 off of him.

His WHIP was 1.29, and he pitched on a team that racked up 72 wins.

DePriest was 0-2 with a 1.06 ERA, but had just 20 saves.

He also pitched on a team that collected 15 fewer wins.

Opponents hit just .175 off of him, and his WHIP was a filthy 0.84

Want me to cut the BS?

It isn’t his fault Lancaster sucked this year. I think he was the best closer in the league, but that he just didn’t get the opportunities that Graves did.

9. BoosterBabe - September 21, 2007

I would definitely go for Hoorelbeke at 1st and Caliguiri at third. No questions about that at all.

They have the #1 and #2 batting averages on the Bluefish, and both guys played the entire season. (though Jay spent 2 weeks on the DL in August). Offensively and Defensively, and for sheer consistency, I would have a hard time picking just one of those guys for Bluefish MVP.

Malek impressed me from day 1 forward in Right and later Center Field, as well. I think he’d deserve an honorable mention for the All-Star team. No slouch at the plate, either!

The Bluefish had a bunch of really GOOD Ballplayers this season. It’s a shame the team’s performance didn’t equal their individual performances.

10. mnlem - September 21, 2007

Man the Bears lineup is tough.

11. chuckerd58 - September 22, 2007

I agree on the pick of DePriest over Graves. I would have picked Jeff Scott as manager of the year . He did an incredible job keeping the Road Warriors competitive and interesting this season.

12. chuckerd58 - September 22, 2007

I’m glad to hear that Brad Strauss got a little sendoff during last night’s debacle. Alway’s a class act,too bad he couldn’t retire with a championship.

13. chuckerd58 - September 22, 2007

Z and tteski,you are both right about how the local paper’s should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of coverage. Snoozeday bills itself as the paper for all of Long Island,yet they virtually ignore the Duck’s during the season. They used to at least have a reporter for the home game’s,but not this year. I hate Snoozeday.

14. chuckerd58 - September 22, 2007

Sorry hwcwx1,you mentioned the Star Ledger fiasco first.

15. BEARSLOYALFAN - September 22, 2007

About time somebody says something about the coverage of the Star Ledger. I agree 300% with you guys. It is a shame that a newspaper that is the sponsor of the Newark Bears and get so much promotion in the park, doesn’t care for the team. I have being saying that for years. My own opinion is the sport section is dedicated to SCHOOLS SPORTS.

16. BEARSLOYALFAN - September 22, 2007

Mike I agree with you regarding the Player of the year award. It doesn’t make any sense, but that is life in the Atlantic League. What about a comment on the Manager of the year, unbelievable how they betrayed our manager. Way Krenchicki was denied it. I wonder if the sentimentalism of Jeff Scott leaving made him the manager of the year, but for the entire Newark Bears Fans and others WAYNE IS THE MANAGER OF THE YEAR. He knows we do recognized that and I am sorry you couldn’t be in Newark at the last game to see the appreciation the Newark Bears fan showed to his team.

17. Fausto Gabon - September 22, 2007

I think Wayne would take the championship trophy instead and call it a fair swap.

18. BEARSLOYALFAN - September 22, 2007

Mike I don’t know where was the group of fans behind second base!!!!????, Yes, we do appreciate and celebrate each win our team gets as a real championship. It is time for us to celebrate every minute of victory. We love our team, we celebrate every good play they do and whatever it takes to keep our guys fighting. They are playing with their hearts, they are playing like major leaguers. That is why we celebrate every minute they win. Do you remember how many times the Newark Bears were criticized for being the worst team last year. Thanks to that front office that has not stop one single minute in bringing back the joy and happiness that the fans at Newark being waiting for long years. WE LOVE OUR GUYS!! WE ARE A FAMILY!!!!!!

19. BoosterBabe - September 22, 2007

“Awards Announced: Here are the post-season All-Stars and year-end award winners…

PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Victor Rodriguez and Jesse Hoorelbeke (tie)

Thoughts: Nothing against Hoorelbeke, but I think it’s a little ridiculous to include him in the Player of the Year race considering his team didn’t make the playoffs, and didn’t even come close in the second half.”

By that same logic, Jeff Scott should have been shut out, as well.

These “awards” are to honor individual acheivement. Jesse hit 33 home runs (a new League Record, by the way) and 94 RBIs, and was a huge presence at first base. Not to mention, played third and even pitched when he was needed. The very fact that he achieved as much as he did, in SPITE of the rest of the team, tells you he is deserving of the nod.

You probably knew I’d chime here….and that is one thing you were right about. But you’re wrong about it being ridiculous to include Jesse in that honor.

20. www.BrickCityBruins.com - September 22, 2007

Mike, AMAZING work by you on all of the coverage. WOW! If it weren’t for you, there’s no telling what we fans wouldn’t get. A whole lotta nuttin’. It was nice to speak to you before the game last night. Glad you got some pix before you lost the daylight. It’s raining now. I hope it clears up soon. See you tonight in Bridgewater. LET’S GO BEARS!


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