August 2, 2021

Mexican Leaguers Give Major Boost to Already Potent Bluefish; York and Somerset Also Go Outside League for Pitching

September 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It appears successful baseball managers such as Butch Hobson, Sparky Lyle and Andy Etchebarren may want to book a little time in Mexico before the next Atlantic League season.  At the least, they should brush up on their Spanish.

While the playoffs are far from over with the unpredictability of five-game series, one team has flexed its muscles in the first two games, and it is not one managed by the trio of former major leaguers mentioned above.

Willie Upshaw’s Bridgeport Bluefish had a fiesta at the expense of Hobson’s host Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, romping 6-1 and 11-1 in the best-of-five series, and a quartet of bullfighters—players, that is—who spent much of the summer in the Triple-A Mexican League did a great deal of the damage.  The Bluefish could wrap up a spot in the championship series as early as Friday night when it is their turn to play at home.

The Freedom Division finalist is much more up in the air with Lyle’s defending champion Somerset and Etchebarren’s York Revolution owning one decisive victory apiece with the next two games at the Patriots’ TD Bank Ballpark where they are 14-7 all-time in their flashy playoff history.

It was no secret Bridgeport had some potent pieces in place as it waltzed through the second half in the Liberty Division with a dominant 34-13 run from August 1 on, with the likes of outfielder Steve Moss and veteran major league first baseman Josh Phelps manning the 3-4 spots in the batting order and four starting pitchers at least four wins over .500.

Upshaw and General Manager Bob Goughan first dialed 1-800-Mexico June 15 for infielder-outfielder Hiram Bocachica, and they picked up the pace for outfielder Tike Redman July 24, major league vet and staff ace Esteban Yan August 17 and infielder Victor Mercedes 10 days later.

Yan easily outpitched new league record-holder Dan Reichert (18 wins) with a four-hit complete game to open the playoffs while Mercedes hit a two-run home run and Redman had a two-run double in a five-run second inning.  Bocachica homered in the fifth, and was the pivot man on three double plays.  In Thursday’s romp, MVP candidate Moss hit a pair of two-run round-trippers and Phelps had a solo blast, but Bocachica and Mercedes combined to drive in five runs, with a homer apiece, and Redman had three hits and scored twice.

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York Turns to the Outside for Game 3 Starter

While Bridgeport went the Mexican League route for late-season help, combatants Somerset and York both reached into the independent American Association for starting pitching help.  The Patriots did not get what they hoped from lefty Joel Kirsten in their first playoff game, now York hopes for better success when another southpaw, Chris Salberg, pitches Game 3 against 12-game winner Josh Miller.

Salberg had an 11-1 season for potent Sioux Falls, SD, although the Pheasants were swept in their championship series.  He was 0-1, 3.46 in two playoff appearances.  Salberg split two regular-season decisions for the Revolution with a 6.10 ERA because of a rocky start against Camden, but he came back to blank Southern Maryland on three hits (three walks, six strikeouts) in six innings six days ago.

Somerset got back into the series with a 9-2 triumph Thursday although the Patriots nursed a 3-2 lead into the eighth and might not have even had that advantage if not for some poor York base-running.

(These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook, with more information found at Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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