After stinging the New Britain Bees with a six-game sweep to start the season, the Sugar Land Skeeters looked to be dominating the Atlantic League until Somerset came to town for a three-game weekend series.
After surrendering the first game to Sugar Land, the Patriots fought off two gallant comeback bids by the home team and left taking two of three and sending the Skeeters on the road with a two-game skid. The 7-0 start, however, is the best start in the Skeeters seven-year history.
The Skeeters began the season with a six-game home stand against the Bees, barely winning all six thanks to a come-from-behind 4-3 victory in the last game Wednesday. Courtney Hawkins belted a two-run homer and was followed by Albert “Coco” Cordero who hit the go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning.
Although the Skeeters feature fireworks on Fridays, things got explosive on Monday, April 30, when Bees relief pitcher Sam Gervacio hit Skeeters batter Matt Chavez, bringing both benches to the field, but without a fight. Gervacio was tossed from the game, which caused Bees manager Wally Backman to have words with the umpire. The ump sent Backman out as well. Skeeters manager Pete Incaviglia got his two cents worth in and also got tossed. That brought both teams out again, but once more nothing happened.
After a break on Thursday, the Skeeters welcomed the Patriots to the Dark Side with a Star Wars themed weekend. Wearing stormtrooper styled jerseys, the Skeeters took the first game 5-3 behind the pitching of Logan Bawcom. Felipe Paulino earned his second save of the season and Kyle Kubitza went 2-3 at the plate with three RBIs.
The force was not with the Skeeters after that as the Pats took the next two games and the series. On Saturday, the Skeeters battled back from a 7-3 deficit to pull within one in the ninth, thanks in part to a two-run single by Derek Norris. With two on and one out in the ninth, Cordero hit a single but the Pats’ Mike Fransoso collided with Norris while fielding the hit, causing both men to go down. Norris was called out and Incaviglia protested loudly, but not enough for another ejection. Hawkins struck out next to end the game.
On Sunday, the Patriots led 11-4 midway through the sixth only to see the Skeeters score four runs, followed by two more in the eighth to make it 11-10. Unfortunately for the Skeeters, the Pats brought in two runs in the ninth to make it 13-10.
Matt Chavez leads the Skeeters and the Atlantic League at the plate with a .576 average. In 33 at-bats he has 19 hits, including six doubles, a home run and five RBIs. The Skeeters have four of the top 10 hitters in the league with Anthony Giansanti hitting .412, Kyle Kubitza hitting .400, and Albert Cordero hitting .367.
On the mound Mitch Talbot and Brett Marshall are tied with Somerset’s Mike Antonini with 0.0 ERAs. Talbot has pitched 10 innings in two games, striking out five, walking two, and giving up seven hits and a run. He has a win to his credit. Marshall has a pair of no-decisions after two outings with 7.2 innings. He has given up five hits, three runs, and four walks while striking out nine.
After a travel day on Monday, the Skeeters hit the road for three games at the Lancaster Barnstormers and three at the Long Island Ducks. They return home Monday four seven games against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The game on Friday, May 18, is Pink in the Park breast cancer awareness, sponsored by Memorial Hermann, and also Girl Scout night. There will be Friday night fireworks, and on Saturday the team is giving away a Skeeters puzzle.
The Skeeters signed catcher Jeff Allen and former Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Colin Walsh. Ryan Jackson was placed in the inactive list and outfielder Welington Dotel and pitcher Jose Ortega were released. Pitcher Paco Rodriguez, who had two saves for the Skeeters, had his contract purchased by the Minnesota Twins.
Skeeter of the Week
Skeeter of the Week honors go to pitcher Mitch Talbot. He has proved himself to be the team’s workhorse on the mound early on this season, winning one of two games he started and getting five strikeouts in 10 innings pitched while maintaining a 0.0 earned-run average.