First Half Recap: A Blockbuster With A Hollywood Finish
By Shaun Nadkarni | SomersetPatriots.com Bridgewater, New Jersey - With an ending that couldn’t have been scripted any better, the first half of the Somerset Patriots’ season was a thrilling ride that concluded in the most dramatic fashion possible.
By Shaun Nadkarni | SomersetPatriots.com
Bridgewater, New Jersey - With an ending that couldn’t have been scripted any better, the first half of the Somerset Patriots’ season was a thrilling ride that concluded in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Walk it off Brandon Lockridge pic.twitter.com/Q2QCYSAnLE— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) April 13, 2022
The team kicked the year off with a 6-2 win over the Reading Fightin Phils (Philadelphia Phillies) on Opening Day on April 8 as well as a 2-1 walk-off win against the Erie SeaWolves (Detroit Tigers) in its home opener on April 12. Somerset finished the first month of the 2022 campaign with a 13-7 record.
Blake Perkins has been named @MiLB's Eastern League Player of the Week! Congrats @theBlakePerkins!🎖— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) April 25, 2022
ℹ️ | https://t.co/AGTIIOTJx5 pic.twitter.com/EcCAnwcPrA
During the week of April 19, outfielder Blake Perkins slashed .474/.524/1.316 with seven extra base-hits, including four home runs and nine RBI en route to being named the Eastern League Player of the Week.
Somerset continued its dominance with three consecutive series wins to begin May and 16 total wins on the month as the team held steady in first place of the Northeast division. The offense in particular began to click with 35 homers and 133 runs
along with a run differential of 25. The pitching staff backed up the bats with a combined 3.96 ERA and league-best 1.17 WHIP. RHP Randy Vasquez was notably named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week after he pitched 5.2 not-hit innings and struck out five batters against the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) on May 13, becoming the second Patriot of the season to earn Eastern League weekly honors.
The Randy man can! Yankees No. 16 prospect RHP Randy Vasquez has been named @MiLB's Eastern League Pitcher of the Week!— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) May 16, 2022
🎖 | https://t.co/d8Os2Gf7Gi pic.twitter.com/vIPOeu1NNz
After the Patriots fell into second place in the Northeast division in mid-June, Somerset pulled back ahead with six consecutive wins over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays) to set up a decisive six-game series at home against the Hartford Yard Goats (Colorado Rockies) to determine the first half champion of the division.
Needing three wins to clinch a playoff spot, the Patriots lost three of the first four games, before taking a close 2-1 win in the fifth game that left it up to a winner-take-all game six. Somerset jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Hartford in the game but later trailed in the bottom of the 10th after the Yard Goats scored five unanswered. Down 1-2 in the count and facing fellow Somerset County pitcher Gavin Hollowell, Yankees number one prospect Anthony Volpe crushed a walk-off two home run to send the Patriots to the playoffs for the first time since joining MiLB.
ANTHONY VOLPE WALK-OFF HOME RUN TO SEND US TO THE POSTSEASON!! pic.twitter.com/zG8hNpbiPx— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) June 26, 2022
“That's what you live for,” said Volpe, a Watchung native. “To do it in front of the home fans is the cherry on top. It’s a dream come true.”
As the ballpark erupted in celebration, Volpe’s teammates met him at home plate, showering him with water, sunflower seeds, bubblegum and bear hugs. The team then made their way to the dugout to continue the squad’s home run tradition of a team polaroid photo, with the honoree decked out in 80’s style sunglasses and a “G.O.A.T.” chain.
“This is a great team, one of the best clubhouses I’ve ever been a part of,” added Volpe. “Everyone wanted to win. We’re part of a really great organization (and) we want to uphold their values, so winning is a huge part of it.”
First-Half Champion Squad👑 pic.twitter.com/bOZwIyu2Yo— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) June 26, 2022
Along with a league-best 44-25 record, Somerset ended the first half as the second-best scoring offense (338) and best scoring defense (3.36 ERA) in the league.
Offensive leaders on the team included Volpe in runs scored (44), RBI (37), and stolen bases (27), Josh Breaux in home runs (13), and Elijah Dunham in batting average (.270). Volpe also ranked second in runs scored and first in stolen bases in the entire Eastern League.
On the mound, Vasquez posted both the best ERA (2.75) and WHIP (1.13) while Sean Boyle collected the most strikeouts (70) and Barrett Loseke recorded the most wins (6).