WALDORF, Md.—The Somerset Patriots defeated the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 11-1 at Regency Furniture Stadium Sunday to win the 2009 Atlantic League Championship.
The Patriots became the first Atlantic League team to win back-to-back titles and it was the team’s record fifth championship in 12 seasons of play.
Southern Maryland struck first with a run in the top of the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead when designated hitter Michael Tucker drew a one out bases loaded walk to force in a run. The Blue Crabs loaded the bases on a lead off single to center by rightfielder John Ramistella, a walk by leftfielder James Shanks and a one out walk by third baseman Patrick Osborn.
Somerset answered with a ten batter, four run top of the second inning to take a 4-1 lead. Third baseman Jeff Nettles led off with a single up the middle, advanced to third on a double to left center by second baseman Matt Hagen, and scored on a Blue Crabs’ fielding error on a ground ball to third off the bat of first baseman Travis Anderson.
Leftfielder Elliott Ayala then drove in Hagen with an RBI infield single to the right side of the infield, and after a sacrifice bunt, shortstop Anthony Granato walked to load the bases. Designated hitter Noah Hall and catcher Jason Belcher would then draw two out walks to force in the final two runs.
The Patriots plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 6-1 when rightfielder Mike Rodriguez ripped a bases loaded two out two run single to center. Somerset loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice ground ball to third off the bat of Nettles, a walk by Hagen, and a two out walk by Ayala.
Somerset rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to extend their lead to 10-1. The Patriots loaded the bases when Hagen led off with a double to right center, Ayala blooped a one out single to right and Rodriguez drew a walk. Granato then lined an RBI single to left that plated Hagen and Hall smacked a two out infield single up the middle that scored Ayala. Rodriguez and Granato would scamper home on a Blue Crabs’ throwing error up the right field line on the Hall single.
The Patriots scored their final run in the top of the eighth inning to make it 11-1 when Nettles crushed a lead off solo home run (3) to left.
Patriots’ starter Jason Standridge (1-0) picked up the complete game win, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven and walking six. Blue Crabs’ starter John Halama (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits while walking five and striking out five in 4.2 innings pitched.
Nettles won the Championship Series MVP, hitting .281 with nine runs scored, three home runs, and seven RBI in the post-season. It is the second time in his six-year Patriots career that he has received the honor. It was also Nettles’ third Atlantic League Championship with Somerset.
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