By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
The Skeeters ended last week with three wins and three losses and moved into second place, two games behind the Revolution in the Freedom Division. The Skeeters are now 29-27 on the season.
On Monday, the Skeeters began a seven-game Constellation Field home stand, with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in town for three games. Their record is 19-35 and they have two wins in their last 10 games. Leading the Blue Crabs are Bryant Nelson, hitting .381, and Jamar Walton, .308, in their last seven games.
On Thursday, the Skeeters begin a four-game series with the red-hot Somerset Patriots, who have won eight of their last 10 games and have the best record in the league at 33-23. They are coming off a weekend sweep of the Blue Crabs where they set an Atlantic League weekend attendance record with 22,907 tickets sold. The Patriots’ are led by Bryan LaHair, hitting .688, Carlos Guzman, .462, and Vinny Zarrillo, .385 over the last week. The Patriots’ pitching staff’s earned run average is 2.32 for the last seven games.
There are 21 games remaining in the first half of the Atlantic League season and the Skeeters are two games out of first place. The division leaders at the end of both halves of the season advance into the playoffs.
The Skeeters will have to earn their way into the playoffs as 11 of their last 21 games are against teams with better records than the Skeeters. In addition to playing four games with Somerset this week, the Skeeters have three games with Long Island beginning July 1. The Ducks are 32-24 and are one game behind Somerset in the Liberty Division. The final four games of the first half are against the Freedom Division leading York Revolution. The Revolution is currently 31-25.
STATE OF THE ATLANTIC LEAGUE
Commissioner Rick White of the Atlantic League is very pleased with how the league is doing so far this season.
“Each division race is close with most teams only two to three games out of first place,” said White. “We have had 21 players sign Major League contracts already this season. We average about 55 per season, so we are ahead of our normal pace. We have a new team in New Britain, Conn., and it is doing very well. On the negative side, bad weather in Sugar Land and in the Northeast has hurt attendance. League-wide, we are down about 10 percent from last year, but we believe we can make it up over the remainder of the season.”
White is a big fan of the Skeeters.
“Jay Miller is doing a marvelous job for the Skeeters,” said White. “We hope to create several more teams in Texas just like the Skeeters in the next two years. Constellation Field is a state of the art stadium and a model for the league.”
STATE OF THE SKEETERS
Skeeters President Jay Miller said he is happy with the season so far.
“Our season has been really good,” said Miller. “The weather and flooding has hurt attendance but our new promotion nights are getting attention. Monday’s dollar hot dog night was a big hit and we have several more of them coming up. We also offer groups half price tickets on Tuesdays and we are starting to see a lot of interest in that promotion.”
While Constellation Field is still young as stadiums go, Bob Zlotnik, owner of the Skeeters, is constantly looking at ways to improve it and keep it state of the art. “We are working with architects right now on changes that can be completed by the beginning of next year. Obviously we need to get the city to approve any changes to the footprint of the stadium, but we don’t expect any objections,” said Zlotnik.
SKEETER OF THE WEEK
The Fort Bend Star Skeeter of the Week is Travis Scott. Scott had 11 hits in 27 at bats for a .407 batting average last week. He also had 6 RBIs and a home run. Jeremy Barfield hit .375, and lefthander Roy Merritt had two saves for the week.
For the season, Barfield is third in the league in batting average at .333, third in home runs with 10, and tied for the lead in RBI’s with 38. The Skeeters have two pitchers tied for the league lead in wins. Both Parker Frazier and Sean Gallagher have five victories.
The Skeeters signed Tim Alderson, a right-handed pitcher who was drafted in the first round of 2007 by the San Francisco Giants. From 2012 to 2014, Alderson was in the AAA International League and his career record in the minor leagues is 52-32 losses with a 4.21 earned run average.