By Joe Southern
The up and down Sugar Land Skeeters are back up again, having gone from ceiling to cellar to ceiling again in the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
As of Sunday, the Skeeters were 10-7 and riding a five-game win streak. They are a game ahead of the Lancaster Barnstormers and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs with the York Revolution taking up the rear at 6-10. Only the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division have a better record at 12-5. Following the Patriots are the Bridgeport Bluefish at 9-8, Long Island Ducks at 8-9 and the Skeeters current opponent, the New Britain Bees, at 4-12.
The Skeeters have been beating the Bees in dramatic fashion at home.
The Skeeters opened the six-game series against the Bees on Friday with a wild 7-5 come-from-behind victory. The Bees built an early 5-3 lead, but blew it when the Skeeters exploded for four runs in the eighth. Two of the four runs were scored when shortstop Josh Prince belted his second home run of the game.
“Any time you can square up and hit the ball like I did it always feels good and it kind of relaxes the shoulders, takes the pressure off of you for the rest of the day,” he said.
Earlier in the game, Bees manager Stan Cliburn contested Prince’s first home run, which he said was in centerfielder Michael Crouse’s glove when his collision with the wall popped it up and then back into his glove for a catch. It was ruled that the ball hit the wall before returning to Crouse’s glove. Cliburn contested it to the point of getting ejected from the game.
“I saw two umpires wave their fingers around like it was a home run, so if they had changed it I might have had to pull a George Brett out and say ‘hey, you both called it homers, how can you now change it with no replay or no anything,’ but in all seriousness you sit there and you hope they keep it as a home run and that they don’t change it,” Prince said.
It was the second time in Prince’s career that he hit multiple homers in a game.
“I did it one time when I was in Double A, I had two homers in a game, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done that,” he said.
The next night the Bees and Skeeters took a 2-2 tie into an extra inning. Outfielder Joe Benson hit a walk off single that scored Travis Scott to win the game 3-2. The game could have easily gotten out of hand for the Skeeters had third baseman Chris Nelson not pulled off several acrobatic catches in the game to keep things close.
Sunday’s game was easier for the Skeeters as they walloped the Bees 6-1. Michael Nix pitched a seven-inning gem, giving up two hits and no runs. Anthony Giansanti was 2-3 at the plate with two singles and a run batted in.
The Skeeters were scheduled to keep battling the Bees Monday night, Tuesday morning, and Wednesday night, followed by a four-game series with Lancaster at Constellation Field.
Skeeter of the week
Skeeter of the week honors goes to Josh Prince who hit two home runs and a double for three RBIs in Friday’s game.