By Joe Southern
The Sugar Land Skeeters have hit a hot streak in the second half of the season, leading the Atlantic League with a 15-10 record (50-45 overall) and holding a two-game lead over the York Revolution (12-11, 52-41) in the Freedom Division.
The team is in the middle of a long stretch on the road that will be interrupted by a three-game home stand this weekend against the Somerset Patriots (12-12, 50-44). The teams square off Friday at 7:05 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 6:05 p.m. at Constellation Field. Prior to that the Skeeters are at the Bridgeport Bluefish (14-10, 44-50) for three games, then off Monday followed by three more with Bridgeport and three with the New Britain Bees (9-15, 45-49) before returning home again on Aug. 15.
The Skeeters took two of three from the Lancaster Barnstormers (9-15, 43-50) last week, followed by going 3-1 against the Long Island Ducks (13-9, 53-39). Most of the games were high-scoring affairs with the Skeeters scoring 34 runs in seven games and giving up 30.
Catcher Wilfredo Rodriguez and infielder Ricky Hague were on fire, hitting .467 and .452 respectively for the week. Lefty Roy Merritt is fourth in the league in pitching with a 2.80 ERA. Against the Ducks Thursday Merritt earned his fifth win for the season going 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out seven and giving up a walk. Closer Derrick Loop earned his 22nd save by preserving a 4-1 win Sunday at Long Island.
Skeeter of the Week
Wilfredo Rodriguez earns the Fort Bend Star Skeeter of the Week honors for his hot streak on the road. In six games he made 15 appearances at the plate, getting seven hits, including two doubles and bringing in 3 RBIs. He raised his overall average to .259.
Baseball fans have continued flocking to Atlantic League ballparks in record numbers during the 2016 season. Through games of July 26, nearly 1.3 million fans have attended ALPB games in 2016 and over 35 million fans have now passed through turnstiles at league ballparks since its inception in 1998.
“The unwavering support of our fans continues to remain as strong as ever this year,” says Atlantic League President Rick White. “The high level of talent and competition on the field along with the family-friendly atmosphere generated in our eight ballparks make Atlantic League games the perfect destination for all.”
The Skeeters set new team records earlier this year. A total of 19,666 fans attended games from May 20 to 22 at Constellation Field. That figure was good for their highest weekend attendance since Sept. 13-15, 2013. The Skeeters then set a single game attendance record on July 4 in a 2-1 win over the New Britain Bees, attracting 8,606 in attendance. That broke the record of 8,597 set on Sept. 17, 2012, in a 4-0 win over Long Island. Sugar Land’s attendance for the first half of the season also increased over last year (147,960 in 2015 and 150,829 in 2016).
The Skeeters return home to Constellation Field to host the Somerset Patriots for a brief three-game series Aug. 5-7. Friday’s game features the popular Fireworks Friday as well as Super Hero Night. Saturday is ’80s Night at the ballpark will also feature a post-game concert by the Spazmatics. The Skeeters will wrap up the home stand on Sunday with Sunday Funday.