Skeeters in tight race to the finish

By Joe Southern
jsouthern@fortbendstar.com

Josh Prince goes to bat during a game earlier this season. The Prince of Thieves is leading the Atlantic League in stolen bases this season with 49 so far. (Photo by Joe Southern)

Even though the Sugar Land Skeeters will finish the season with a losing record, the team still has a shot at making the playoffs next week.

Because the Atlantic League takes the winners of each half of the season to the playoffs, the Skeeters are still in the running with a 33-31 second-half record, which has them in third place but only 2.5 games out of first. This is despite their 63-71 overall record.

There are six games left in the regular season, all at home. The first three are against the Bridgeport Bluefish and the last three are against the Long Island Ducks. Both opponents are vying for a playoff spot in the Liberty Division. The first half winners were the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Freedom Division and the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division. The Ducks play three games at Lancaster before coming to Sugar Land. York has three games against the Blue Crabs and then end with the Barnstormers in a three-game series that could decide the final playoff spot.

LAST WEEK

Much like they did at the end of the season last year, the Skeeters have gotten on a hot streak as the playoffs get close. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 12-5 in the last 17. In the last seven games the Skeeters have been led by Josh Prince at the plate. He is hitting .406 in 32 at-bats with four runs and 13 hits. The Prince of Thieves, however, continues to rack up the steals. He snagged five free bases last week bringing his league-leading total to 49, which is 10 ahead of the next two in line. Joe Benson (.320) and Kevin Ahrens (.276) have been adding power at the plate with Cole Gillespie (.444) and Bryan Pounds (.300) giving solid hit support.

Mitch Talbot notched two wins last week, pitching 13 innings and getting 15 strikeouts against two earned runs for 1.39 ERA. Newcomer Alberto Rodriguez went 10 innings, giving up five runs and notching five strikeouts for a 2.70 ERA. Starters Bobby Blevins and Brett Marshall each earned a win, as did reliever Andrew Johnston.

THIS WEEK

The Skeeters will begin a six-game home stand on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Constellation Field. The Skeeters, battling for the Freedom Division title, will host the Bridgeport Bluefish in a three-game series from Sept.12-14 and a weekend series against the Long Island Ducks from Sept.15-17. The six game home stand is the Skeeters’ final regular season home stand of the year.

On Wednessday, bring the whole family to Constellation Field for Kids in Free Wednesday featuring free admission for kids 12 and under. As the Skeeters wrap up the series against the Bluefish on Thursday, enjoy $2 beer and soda in honor of Thirsty Thursday at the ballpark. Both games are slated for 7:05 p.m.

The Long Island Ducks return to Sugar Land on Friday. Start the weekend at Constellation Field with Fireworks Friday and Faith & Family Night sponsored by Christ Church Sugar Land. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Fans are encouraged to stay after the game and watch the biggest fireworks show of the season featuring an extended show with double the fireworks.

On Saturday evening at the ballpark, presented by Windstream, at 6:05 p.m. the Skeeters will feature a special Super Hero jersey auction benefitting Best Buddies and a Swatson Mask giveaway for the first 300 fans in attendance courtesy of Bedrock City Comics.

The night concludes with a free Texas country post game concert performed by Charlie Robison and sponsored by Bud Light.

The final regular season game of the 2017 season is Sunday at 2:05 p.m. In honor of the last game of the season, the Skeeters will thank the fans for another great year and celebrate with Fan Appreciation Day. There will be chances to win great prizes during the game, including a 43-inch Sharp Smart TV, a SpringFree Trampoline, an ATV and Hooters Wings for a year. The Skeeters will also be giving away some of the popular 2017 promotional items at the gates including the Skeeters Lunch Box, Desk Weight Championship Ring, Dick’s Sporting Goods shirts and bags, and Texas Lottery and Whataburger water bottles. The Skeeters Team Store will also have discounted gear starting at 25 percent off.

Sunday’s game will also feature Sunday Funday pre-game player autographs, catch on the field and post game Kids Run the Bases courtesy of Dr. Larry Caldwell.

Throughout the home stand, the Skeeters will continue to offer first responders two free tickets with a valid ID and free tickets for Hurricane Harvey evacuees. The Skeeters will also be collecting school supplies for local area schools affected by Hurricane Harvey.

TRANSACTIONS

The Skeeters acquired Patrick Mincey and Alberto Rodriguez in a trade with AA Celburne Railroaders. Hector Olivera and Dustin Richardson were released. Sean Gleason was suspended. Lance Zawadzki was traded to Lancaster.

SKEETER OF THE WEEK

The Prince of Thieves, Josh Prince, earns Skeeter of the week honors for the second week in a row. He is hot at the plate and hotter around the bases as he delivers for the Skeeters.

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