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Patriots crowned by no-hitter, Martian's power

Yankees affiliate scores its first Eastern League championship
September 29, 2022

Championship Series

Championship Series

Sept. 28

Patriots 15, SeaWolves 0
Jasson Domínguez and Randy Vasquez put forth the best performances of their careers to lead Double-A Somerset to a no-hit victory over Erie in the decisive Game 3 of the Eastern League Championship Series at TD Bank Ballpark to clinch the franchise's first league title.

"It’s an incredible moment," Patriots skipper Dan Fiorito said. "I’m just so happy for the players and the staff. This group is so incredibly talented, but the attitude and the effort that they brought here every single day was incredible. I'm just so happy to be a part of it all with them."

Before the first inning ended, The Martian was 2-for-2 with a moonshot and three RBIs. By the fourth, the second-ranked Yankees prospect had lifted another home run into orbit, and by the end of the game, he had amassed a career-high six RBIs. Domínguez finished with three knocks -- homering from both sides of the plate -- and a pair of walks.

On the hill, Vasquez was brilliant over eight sparkling frames -- the longest outing of the 14th-ranked Yankees prospect's career. The right-hander was perfect over 6 1/3 innings, whiffing the side in the sixth while posting four punchouts in a row. A 10-pitch walk to Danny Serretti with one out in the seventh was the lone blemish for the 23-year-old. Vasquez exited after throwing 93 pitches -- 68 for strikes -- and racking up eight whiffs. Full story »

Sept. 27

Patriots 9, SeaWolves 2
Somerset entered play at TD Bank Ballpark in a win-or-go-home scenario against Erie. The Patriots' response was to come out slugging.

The best-of-3 Championship Series knotted at one apiece after Somerset dropped a four-spot in the run column in the first and second innings, keyed by home runs from catcher Austin Wells (Yankees No. 4 prospect) and center fielder Jasson Domínguez (New York’s No. 2 prospect).

Erie starter Chance Kirby ran into a Somerset buzzsaw from the jump: the club’s highly touted top of the order opened the game with a double, a single, a homer, a walk and another single to put three runs on the board before an out was recorded.

While second baseman Corey Joyce looked to jump-start the SeaWolves’ bats with a two-run homer in the top of the second, the Patriots came roaring back in the bottom half of the frame, led by Domínguez.

Playing in just his ninth game at the Double-A level, MLB’s No. 40 overall prospect posted his third consecutive multihit performance. Since arriving in Somerset, Domínguez has amassed an .828 OPS, with his two-run Game 2 roundtripper -- which put the Patriots ahead 6-2 -- serving as his first pro postseason home run.

The homer parade didn’t conclude after Domínguez’s wallop, with Elijah Dunham (Yankees No. 20 prospect) running into his 18th jack of the year later in the second. The middle of the Somerset order firmly swung the pendulum in its favor with the No. 2-6 batters (including Domínguez, Wells and Dunham) delivering two-hit showings.

Staked to an 8-2 advantage through two frames, Somerset starter Yoendrys Gómez (Yankees No. 12 prospect) allowed two runs on two hits and a walk while striking out six over five frames. Behind him, the trio of Barrett Loseke, Emmanuel Ramirez and Carlos Espinal combined for four scoreless innings, whiffing seven SeaWolves and surrendering two harmless singles.

Erie and Somerset will meet in a winner-take-all Game 3, with the SeaWolves looking to claim their first championship and the Patriots seeking their first crown since becoming a Yankees affiliate. Box score »

Sept. 24

SeaWolves 6, Patriots 5
If the rest of the Eastern League Championship Series is anything like Game 1, fans might want to buy some antacids.

In a back-and-forth affair with three lead changes, 11 runs, 18 hits and a whole lot of drama, Erie held on to edge visiting Somerset to capture the opener of the best-of-3 Finals. The Tigers' Double-A affiliate has never won a championship.

The Patriots and SeaWolves met for just one series during the regular season, with Somerset taking four of six games from Erie. Game 1 in Pennsylvania showcased two teams ready to go to the wire.

Somerset jumped out to the initial lead after baseball’s No. 83 overall prospect Austin Wells smashed a two-run double to center in the top of the third inning. Erie answered one frame later when Detroit’s No. 17 prospect Parker Meadows walloped a solo homer to right. In the fifth, the SeaWolves took their first lead on another long ball, a two-run shot to left-center by Gage Workman.

The Patriots rallied. In the sixth, Somerset answered with three runs, the first on a single to left by Jesus Bastidas that plated Wells to tie the game. The Patriots retook the lead when Tyler Hardman smoked a two-run double to center to make it a 5-3 game.

That marked Somerset’s last offensive push of the night.

Erie stormed back in the bottom of the frame, knotting the game on Workman’s two-run single to center. In the seventh, Meadows lined a single to center that drove in Jon Rosoff with the eventual game-winning run.

Meadows’ three hits led all players, as did Workman’s four RBIs. Wells and Jasson Domínguez , the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect and baseball’s No. 40, were the only Patriots with two hits on the night. Box score »


Sept. 22

Patriots 6, Sea Dogs 5
On a night that the Yankees walked off against the Red Sox to clinch an MLB postseason berth, New York's Double-A affiliate did one better. Playing against Boston's Portland club, Brandon Lockridge delivered a walk-off single to send Somerset to clinch a spot in the Eastern League Finals.

Game 2 of the best-of-3 series swung back and forth between the two clubs. Portland led 3-0 after the top of the seventh inning, thanks to a scoreless, seven-strikeout outing from starter Thad Ward and RBIs from Christian Koss, Stephen Scott (sacrifice flies) and Elih Marrero (double).

But Somerset began mounting one of two comebacks in the home half of the seventh. Lockridge, the soon-to-be hero, began chipping away with an RBI single, and top five Yankees prospects Jasson Domínguez (No. 2) and Austin Wells (No. 4) drew walks with the bases loaded to even the score at three.

The tie game didn't last long. Sea Dogs infielder Hudson Potts belted a two-run homer in the eighth to give his team the lead and the hope of forcing Game 3. Needing six outs to do it, Portland's bullpen got all but the last one. With two down in the bottom of the ninth, Wells and Andres Chaparro contributed RBI singles to force extra innings.

Patriots reliever Carson Coleman worked around the automatic runner to toss a 1-2-3 top of the 10th, setting up Lockridge and the Somerset offense in the bottom of the frame. The 25-year-old lined the game-winner down the right-field line, giving the Patriots a chance at their first title since joining the Yankees' organization in 2021. Box score »

SeaWolves 6, Flying Squirrels 2
A year ago at this time, Quincy Nieporte was wrapping up another season of Independent League baseball, three years removed from his last game in affiliated ball. Fast-forward to this late September night when Nieporte, coming off a regular season in which he hit a Tigers Minor League-best 31 home runs for Double-A Erie, was at the plate in the fifth inning of a tie game -- a playoff game, at that.

Nieporte did what he did all year long. The 28-year-old first baseman mashed a three-run homer to give the SeaWolves a lead they would never relinquish, sending them to the Eastern League Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Erie swept the best-of-3 series after beating Richmond in Game 1, 9-3. The SeaWolves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Danny Serretti single, but the Flying Squirrels quickly battled back. Giants prospects Ricardo Genoves and Carter Aldrete walloped back-to-back home runs in the second to even the score at two.

Then, Nieporte swung the momentum back in Erie's favor in a huge way. Richmond was held hitless over the final five frames and SeaWolves designated hitter Jon Rosoff added insurance with an RBI single in the eighth.

Ty Madden, Detroit's No. 4 prospect, made the start, but the story on the mound was Erie's bullpen. After Madden was lifted following the second inning with two runs allowed, four relievers -- Sawyer Gipson-Long, Carlos Guzman, Adam Wolf and Brendan White -- combined for seven shutout innings, yielding just one hit and striking out nine. Box score »

Sept. 20

SeaWolves 9, Flying Squirrels 3
What began as a dynamic pitchers' duel turned into a runaway 9-3 Game 1 victory for Erie, who moved within one win of claiming the best-of-3 series against Richmond in the semifinals of the Eastern League playoffs.

Richmond’s Kyle Harrison and Erie’s Reese Olson racked up strikeouts early and often. Harrison, MLB Pipeline's top-ranked left-handed pitching prospect, recorded all nine of his outs via the punchout, even as the SeaWolves pushed across a pair of runs during his three frames. Olson, the Tigers’ No. 9 prospect, worked the front five for the second-half champions and notched nine K’s over five innings of one-run ball.

The SeaWolves' record books continue to fall at Olson’s feet. After setting the franchise’s single-season strikeout mark (168) during the regular season, the 23-year-old set a new high in punchouts for a single Erie playoff game with his performance vs. Richmond. The righty has struck out at least six batters in seven consecutive starts, with at least eight K’s in five of those outings.

Despite falling behind early, Erie rebounded with run-scoring frames in the second and third, before breaking through with a four-run fifth that was capped by Danny Serretti’s three-run homer. It marked the first Double-A roundtripper for Serretti, a sixth-round pick by Detroit in the 2022 Draft out of the University of North Carolina.

Top-ranked Giants prospect Marco Luciano (MLB's No. 17 overall prospect) debuted for the Flying Squirrels and went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the sixth while serving as the designated hitter. Box score »

Patriots 9, Sea Dogs 4
It took the Somerset bats a few innings to find a rhythm, but once they did, an eight-run deluge in the fourth carried the team to a 9-4 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-3 semifinal series against Portland.

Without notching an extra-base hit, the Patriots posted a decisive frame in which 13 batters came to the dish. A throwing error by Sea Dogs starter Shane Drohan opened the floodgates, and the Yankees' affiliate followed with five singles and four walks. New York's No. 2 prospect Jasson Domínguez walked with the bases loaded to give Somerset a lead that was not relinquished, while fourth-ranked Austin Wells knocked a two-run single.

Even with the extensive firepower the Patriots carry atop their order, it was a pair of prospects who spent the entire year at Double-A who had the biggest impact: Elijah Dunham (No. 20) enjoyed his second four-hit game of the season, while Jesus Bastidas collected a trio of knocks.

The Sea Dogs sprung ahead early with back-to-back homers by Niko Kavadas (the No. 21 Red Sox prospect) and Hudson Potts in the second, but were unable to capitalize on the early momentum.

After yielding the early roundtrippers, Somerset hurler Randy Vasquez (No. 15 ) settled in to strike out six over 5 2/3 frames. With the victory, the Patriots find themselves one win away from playing for an Eastern League title in just their second season as a New York affiliate. Box score »

How they got there

Sept. 18

Erie SeaWolves

Erie entered the day tied in the standings with Bowie, and after tiebreakers were factored in, the SeaWolves either needed a win or a Baysox loss to clinch the second-half title. Bowie dropped its contest to Akron, 8-5, giving Erie a playoff berth for the first time since 2019.

The SeaWolves amassed 41 wins in the second half to give them 80 on the season overall. The Tigers' Double-A affiliate was one of the best road teams in the league, winning 23 contests in visiting ballparks in the second half, while sporting one of the best all-around offenses (third in the league in OPS at .753) and pitching staffs (second in ERA at 3.79).

Righty Chance Kirby led the circuit's qualified starters in ERA with a 2.62 mark -- no other hurler had an ERA under 3.90 -- as well as average-against (.197) and WHIP (0.94). Slugger Quincy Nieporte led the league in homers (31) and RBIs (91).

The SeaWolves will be playing for their first league title. Gameday box score

Portland Sea Dogs

Ceddanne Rafaela picked the perfect spot for his first grand slam.

With his club looking to lock up a postseason berth for the first time in eight years, baseball's 100th overall prospect broke the game open in the seventh with a slam and Portland cruised to a 12-7 win over Somerset at TD Bank Ballpark. The victory clinched the Northeast Division second-half title and a playoff date with ... the Patriots.

After falling behind in the opening frame, the Sea Dogs took control, scoring eight times from the third through fifth innings. Homers by Boston's No. 21 prospect Christian Koss, No. 24 Wilyer Abreu and Tyler Dearden helped Portland take a 8-2 edge.

Somerset cut the lead to four, but Rafaela's seventh-inning clout eliminated any remaining suspense over the final three innings. The salami was the No. 4 Red Sox prospect's 12th homer for the Sea Dogs and 21st overall. The 21-year-old is slashing .303/.346/.549 with 63 extra-base hits, 86 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 113 games.

The victory improved Portland's second-half record to an Eastern League-best 45-24, a far better run than its 30-39 mark in the first half. Gameday box score

June 26

Somerset Patriots

Down to his team's final strike in a winner-take-all matchup for the Northeast Division title, top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe delivered.

Volpe belted a two-run, walk-off homer to left-center, rallying Double-A Somerset from a deficit in the 10th to a 6-5 win over Hartford that gave the Patriots a first-half Northeast Division title.

Somerset started its season just 7-6 before going on a tear with wins in eight of its next nine games to set the tone for the remainder of the first half. Since the start of that streak, the Patriots have gone 37-19. Their push across the finish line wasn't easy. Somerset was two games back of Hartford with three to play entering the first half's final weekend and finished the job by claiming three of four games from the Yard Goats, including two by one run. Gameday box score

Richmond Flying Squirrels

Double-A Richmond took care of business with a 7-2 win over Portland, but they needed some help from Harrisburg to officially clinch the Southwest Division first-half title. The Flying Squirrels gathered together to watch the final out, and when the Senators took down the Rubber Ducks, the San Francisco prospects erupted in celebration. In the clincher, Richmond was led by top Giants pitching prospect, Kyle Harrison, who struck out 11 across seven innings of two-run ball.

Harrison is relatively new to a solid Richmond pitching staff that leads the league in shutouts (eight) and has allowed the second-fewest homers (61). They're fifth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and have struck out the fifth-most batters (674). The offense has also held its own, slugging the second-most homers (89) posting the third-most RBIs (307) with a .325 OBP (fourth-best) and a .402 slugging percentage (fifth-best). Gameday box score