Team 2.5 games back with 12 more to go
By Joe Southern
Coming into the homestretch of the season, the Sugar Land Skeeters have started connecting some wins and have pulled within 2.5 games of first place in the race for the second half title in the Freedom Division.
The team went 8-2 in the last 10 games, including a five-game win streak. Despite being 59-68 and 10.5 games back overall, the second half title and the final spot in the playoffs is a wide-open race with the York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers knotted at 32-26.
The Skeeters are hot right now and are quickly closing that gap. After going 3-1 against the New Britain Bees in a series that was relocated to New Britain by Hurricane Harvey and then 3-1 at home against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the Skeeters are in position to catch and surpass the slumping division leaders.
The Skeeters are on their final road trip of the season, taking on the Bridgeport Bluefish for three games, followed by three at New Britain. After taking Monday, Sept. 11, off, they return home to finish the regular season with three games against Bridgeport and the final three against the red-hot Long Island Ducks – the same team the Skeeters swept last year to with the Atlantic League title.
Led by pitching coach Raffy Montalvo in the absence of manager Gary Gaetti, who has been on an extended leave for family issues, the Skeeters have continued to play an unusually high number of one-run games. Five of the last eight were decided by a single run, four of them in the Skeeters favor. Prior to that they had eight of nine games decided by one run. Gaetti did return to the team on Sunday, but Montalvo continued to manage.
At the plate, catcher Wilfredo Rodriguez leads the team with a .327 average, with infielder Bryan Pounds leading with 11 home runs and player/coach Travis Scott on top with 52 runs-batted-in.
On the mound, Jake Hale reached the 10-win mark and Mitch Talbot not only notched two wins in the last week, he also leads the team with 92 strikeouts. Relievers Felipe Paulino (2.43) and Julio DePaula (3.03) lead the team in ERA. Prior to Monday’s game, DePaula had pitched 20 scoreless innings dating back to July 14.
Skeeters of the Week
Josh Prince and Jake Hale take home Skeeter of the Week honors. Prince leads the league in steals with 44 and with 10 homers is one shy of his personal record. Hale is now 10-5 on the season with 81 strikeouts and a 3.43 ERA.