The Sugar Land Skeeters split four games with Freedom Division rival Lancaster Barnstormers over the weekend in what is likely a preview of the divisional playoffs in two weeks.
Sugar Land clinched the playoffs by winning the first half of play and is six games up in the second half. Short of a late-season meltdown by the Skeeters, Lancaster, the second-best team in the Atlantic League, will probably win a Wild Card slot and a re-match with the Skeeters in the playoffs.
“They’ve got a nice ball club, they’ve got some guys who can run, swing the bats pretty good, the starting pitching’s good, their bullpen’s good,” said Skeeters Manager Pete Incaviglia. “A team that goes out and plays fundamentally sound baseball is going to win games. When you play good teams it comes down to the little things, so whoever does the little things and gets some timely hitting, that usually determines who’s going to win the game.”
The Skeeters began the week hosting the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. After sweeping three games against the Blue Crabs, Sugar Land tore into the Barnstormers Friday night with 15 runs in a 9-5 victory. On Saturday the teams played a double-header to make up for a rainout last month in Lancaster. The Barnstormers took the first seven-inning game 1-0, but the Skeeters bounced back in the nightcap 3-2. Vicente Campos got the win and closer Felipe Paulino notched his 31st save. It’s one shy of teammate Derrick Loop’s record of 32 and leads the Atlantic League in that category.
“I have no idea what the record is, I don’t pay attention to that. I keep doing what I’m doing so far and if I break the record, that’s good,” Paulino said. “I’m happy we’ve come this far through the season. I’m the kind of guy, I just enjoy the game and do my best every time I jump on the field.”
Sunday’s game was all Lancaster as they scored early and often in a 10-1 rout.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Skeeters are remaining optimistic.
“We’re the same team we were the first game of the year we are now, we go out and play a certain brand of baseball, we play hard, we fight, we compete and do the things that’s necessary to win games. Fortunately for us we’ve won more than we’ve lost, so it’s been a good year so far,” Incaviglia said.
“We’re healthy, happy, we’re winning ballgames, getting ready for the playoffs, so I can’t complain,” outfielder Anthony Giansanti said. “Anytime you get to play in the playoffs in professional baseball it’s a special thing. I think we just want to finish out the year strong and baseball, like any other sport, is a game of momentum, so we want to carry it into the playoffs, so that’s what we’re really focusing on is continuing to play good baseball.”
The Skeeters are in Southern Maryland and New Britain, Conn., for their final road trip of the regular season. They have three games against the Blue Crabs Tuesday through Thursday and then spend the weekend playing the New Britain Bees. After a day off Monday the Skeeters return home for the last regular season home stand with six games against the Long Island Ducks.
The Spazmatics will perform a post-game concert on Friday, Sept. 14, and Saturday will be Faith and Family Night with fireworks. Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day.
By virtue of winning the first half of play in the Freedom Division, the Skeeters earned a playoff spot. Their first two divisional playoff games will be held on the road Sept. 18-19. The will Skeeters will host the third game Friday, Sept. 21, and the fourth and fifth games if necessary on Sept. 22-23.
The Atlantic League Championship will be played the following week between the Freedom and Liberty division winners. Should Sugar Land win the Freedom Division, they would host the first two championship games on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26. The last three games will be held at the home field of the Liberty Division champion.
The Skeeters released pitcher Matt Sergey on Aug. 26. Catcher Albert Cordero was suspended one game on Aug. 28 over a disagreement with an umpire.
Skeeter of the Week
Anthony Giansanti has collected a hit in 21 of 24 games in August, going 33-for-98 (.337) with eight doubles, three home runs, 15 RBIs and seven stolen bases over that span. Giansanti is tied for fifth in the Atlantic League with 16 home runs, is fifth with 30 stolen bases and is third with 71 runs. He’s the only player in Skeeters history to collect at least 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season, making him the Fort Bend Star’s Skeeter of the Week.
2nd Half Standings
Sugar Land Skeeters 34-17-0
Lancaster Barnstormers 27-22-6
York Revolution 27-23-6.5
S. Maryland Blue Crabs 19-30-4
Long Island Ducks 31-20-0
Somerset Patriots 30-21-1
New Britain Bees 23-27-7.5
Road Warriors 10-41-21