05/17/2019 11:03 AM -
By Marco Meglio
Bridgewater, NJ – Though the Somerset Patriots had a rough series against the High Point Rockers this week, one highlight stood out that will live as one of the greatest regular season finishes in team history.
The Tuesday, May 14th game was delayed by rain, had little to no run production, and had the feeling that it was time to pack it in and prepare for tomorrow. That quickly changed in the bottom of the ninth, as the Patriots will to not give in showed once again.
Down 4-0 coming into the ninth, Alfredo Rodriguez and Ramon Flores both singled to start the frame, setting the table for Somerset. An error on Stephen Cardullo loaded the bases, with Michael Ohlman up and two outs. Patiently, Ohlman worked the count, fouling off countless pitches before drawing a huge walk, plating the Patriots first run.
Next up was new member Edwin Espinal. Due to visa issues, Espinal was unable to play in the team’s first two weeks of games, but had finally joined the team on Saturday, May 11th. In just his seventh plate appearance with the team he, had a chance to make an impact, and he didn’t miss.
With bases loaded, Espinal cracked a 2-1 pitch from Trevor Frank deep into left center field, clearing the wall and sending the Patriots home with a 5-4 victory. The shot was loud and sent the entire bench into a complete frenzy.
“I was looking for that pitch. He turned to me and I was ready for it. I killed it,” Espinal said.
Espinal rounded the bases, wearing the biggest smile on his face. On his way around third he tossed his helmet in the air and saw his teammates ready to surround him at home. Once he touched homeplate he was mobbed by everyone with hugs and a Gatorade bath.
The celebration didn’t stop. He jogged his way into the locker room and was greeted with shaving cream to the face by a few of his teammates. Loud music blaring, friendly vibes and an overall gritty team win helped push the Patriots to a 12-3 start to the young season.
While the team win is great, the elation for a player playing in just his second game with the Patriots was more than apparent for Espinal.
“I feel great. It was my second game, but the team and fans are very patient. They try talking to me every time and making me feel comfortable in the clubhouse,” Espinal said.
The camaraderie that the Patriots have has clearly shown early in the season.
“He gives a lot of energy in the infield and around the clubhouse. We knew when he got here we’d welcome him with open arms and he’d fit right in,” shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez said.
Once again timely hitting was the theme on the night. Even after being shutout the first eight innings, the Patriots were able to find a way and rally to victory.
“Nobody gives an at-bat away. We always fight. 1-9 we have a solid lineup and we’re capable of big innings, no matter if it’s the first or the ninth inning,” second baseman Craig Massey said.