Franchise will likely relocate
By Joe Southern
When the Sugar Land Skeeters play the Bridgeport Bluefish Sept. 12-14 at Constellation Field, it will be for the last time.
The Bluefish, one of two remaining original teams in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, will lose their home of 20 years at the end of the season. That will leave the Somerset Patriots as the last original team.
“We are proud of the 20-year run the Bridgeport Bluefish have had,” said Bluefish principal owner Frank Boulton. “While we are disappointed the city decided to turn the ballpark into a 29-date concert venue, we wish them the best of luck.”
The club was notified that the City of Bridgeport will pursue a proposal to turn The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, the team’s home since 1998, into an amphitheater intended for concerts.
“It didn’t come as a surprise to us,” Boulton said, adding that the city wanted to make the move last year but he got an extension so the team could celebrate its 20th year.
The Skeeters just finished a four-game series there and will return Sept. 5-7 for three games before hosting the Bluefish for the final time the next week.
Boulton, one of the Atlantic League founders and also the owner of the Long Island Ducks, said the Bluefish franchise will likely have a new home next season.
“We’re talking with many cities about expansion,” he said, adding that, “expansion would include a relocation.”
“There are cities in Texas, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey that are interested in the Bluefish,” he said, but not disclosing which cities. “It’s an asset and it’s valuable and many cities want what we have to offer.”
He said that the Atlantic League, which currently has eight teams, plans to expand in coming years, including to other cities in Texas.
“Other cities will be added as we make a move to 12 years by 2020,” he said.
In its 20 years, the Atlantic League has seen seven other teams come and go. Boulton said it’s all part of doing business in professional baseball.
“In baseball you have to know what to do when the ball is hit to you … In business you have to do the same thing,” he said.
The Skeeters began last week with a brief reprieve when Monday’s game at the New Britain Bees was rained out. They then split the next two games with the Bees, winning 5-0 and then losing 7-3. From there they went to Bridgeport to take on the Bluefish where they took three of four games to earn a 4-2 record last week.
The Skeeters took the first, third and fourth games against the Bluefish and in doing so moved out of the cellar of the Freedom Division and knocking the Bluefish out of first in the Liberty Division.
A trio of pitchers led the Skeeters on the mound last week. In 11 innings of work across two games, Mitch Talbot struck out 13 and gave up four runs, three earned, for a 2.46 ERA. He won one game and did not receive a decision on the other. Sean Gleason picked up a pair of wins, pitching 12 innings, striking out seven and four earned runs for a 3.0 ERA. Brett Marshall got a win in his only start, going seven innings, striking out one and giving up a pair of runs for a 1.29 ERA.
Kevin Ahrens led the Skeeters at the plate the last seven games, getting 10 hits with five doubles and two RBIs for a .370 average. Wilfredo Rodriguez continues to be a force with the bat, getting eight hits with four RBIs and earning a .342 average. Anthony Giansanti had 10 hits with five runs and a homer for a .345 average. Joe Benson hit .333 and Albert Cordero was .300 at the plate.
The Skeeters have a six-game home stand Aug. 15-20 with the York Revolution before returning to the road on Aug. 21 for four games at Long Island and three at Southern Maryland. They return to Constellation Field Aug. 28 for four games against the New Britain Bees and six against Southern Maryland.
Promotions this week include Las Vegas Night on Thursday, fireworks on Friday, a concert by Micky and the Motorcars on Saturday and a dufflebag giveaway on Sunday.
Skeeter of the Week
Skeeter of the week honors go to the new kid on the block. Caleb Ramsey joined the team Aug. 2 and although he only had a .200 average last week, his hits were timely. He got six RBIs and played a key role in three of the wins.