The Somerset Patriots, powered by right fielder Michael Burgess and a strong start by Roy Merritt, defeated the Long Island Ducks 5-3 in Game 1 of the Liberty Division Championship Series at Bethpage Ballpark.
Burgess led the offense with a 3-for-4 performance, including a home run, a triple and three RBI. He would fall a double short of the cycle.
“It’s key to get game one, especially at their place. We just need to come back tomorrow, do the same thing and take it home,” Burgess said.
The Patriots took an early lead in the first inning when Burgess tripled to bring home left fielder Aharon Eggleston, who had singled earlier in the frame.
The Ducks tied up the game in the second on an error by second baseman Greg Hopkins that allowed Elmer Reyes to reach base safely and Dan Lyons to score.
Long Island took the lead on an RBI single by Sean Burroughs in the bottom of the third. Merritt then got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout of Mike Blanke to hold the Ducks to a 2-1 lead.
Merritt put up zeroes for the next three innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.
“It took me a little while to get it going, but once I got locked in around the third inning, I was able to just keep it going,” said Merritt.
A solo home run by Matt Fields (1) tied up the game 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning.
Somerset jumped out in front the next inning after an RBI single by Thomas Neal and a two-run blast by Burgess (1) gave Somerset a 5-2 advantage.
“That’s what (Matt Fields and Michael Burgess) are supposed to do. They are supposed to drive in runs, leave the ballpark, and both had a bunch of good swings tonight. It’s going to be tough to pitch to those guys. We just need to do a little better with situation hitting and adding as we go, but I’ll take it,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie.
The Ducks third run came on a wild pitch by reliever Buddy Boshers in the seventh to provide the 5-3 final score.
Merritt (1-0) picked up the win, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in six innings pitched. John Brownell (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in six innings pitched. Jon Hunton picked up the save (1) for Somerset.