by John Furgele
There is no greater sport than baseball. Yes, football is more popular and some may argue that it is a better game, but baseball has more going for it. For starters, the playoffs are much more dramatic and even late season regular season games are often filled with drama—all you had to do was watch the Mets-Marlins finale on Sunday, where Met fans were sobbing as their beloved team choked away a potential playoff berth for the second straight season.
The other thing baseball has going for it is tons of minor and independent leagues, which play in new stadiums. Of the independent leagues, the Atlantic League is probably the best. Unlike the 90 to 100 game seasons that most independent leagues play, the Atlantic League plays a real schedule of 140 games and last night, the Somerset Patriots captured their fourth championship in 11 seasons, all under manager and former big leaguer Sparky Lyle. That is a Yankee like run and ironcially the team is managed by a former Yankee, who now has as many championships as former Yankee manager Joe Torre
Below is a recap of Somerset’s win, from Marc Russinoff and the Atlantic League website.
Patriots Are The 2008 Champs
Bridgewater, NJ – Somerset Patriots catcher Travis Anderson hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Patriots a 3-2 win in Game Four of the Atlantic League Championship at Commerce Bank Ballpark on Monday night to clinch the team’s fourth Atlantic League Championship in 11 seasons.Somerset rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning. Center fielder Sean Smith doubled and scored on an RBI single by shortstop Teuris Olivares. After first baseman Josh Pressley drew a walk, designated hitter Jason Belcher was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Second baseman Matt Hagen was then hit by a pitch to bring home Olivares and tie the game up 2-2.
The Riversharks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Catcher Josh Arhart doubled and scored on an RBI single by center fielder L.J. Biernbaum.
Camden added a run to the lead in the top of the eighth inning. Biernbaum singled and would later score on an error to give the Riversharks a 2-0 lead.
Patriots reliever Brian Reith (1-0) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth inning and three strikeouts. Reith also had three saves in the post season. Camden reliever Alec Zumwalt (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing an earned run on one hit in 0.1 innings pitched.
Patriots third baseman Brandon Larson was named the series MVP, hitting .458 for the series with three home runs and seven RBI in five games played.
The win was Somerset’s fourth Atlantic League title, having won in 2001, 2003, and 2005. The Patriots are the only team in the league with more than three titles.
The Four Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots will play their next home game in Spring 2009. For more information, stop by the Patriots Ticket Office located at the ballpark, call (908) 252-0700, or visit http://www.somersetpatriots.com.