Somerset Patriots win 2 of 3 in season-opening series

BRIDGEWATER, NJThe Somerset Patriots took the series against the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Opening Week. The three-game series began on Friday night at TD Bank Ballpark in style, with back-to-back home runs from Ben Rice and Agustin Ramirez in each of their first at-bats.

Rice, who was inserted into the Somerset lineup after Spencer Jones was scratched (stiff neck) picked up right where he left off in 2023, belting the second pitch he saw over the right field wall.

Agustin Ramirez went back-to-back with Rice to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The homer was Ramirez's 33rd career home run.

Game 1:  W (5-4)

Ramirez: 1-for-4, 1 HR , 2 RBIs

RHP Zack Messinger: 5.2 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 4H, 5K

Zach Messinger, who pitched one game for the Somerset Patriots last season, took a no-decision in his second career Double-A start. Combined in both starts, Messinger has only allowed four earned runs over 9 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts and two walks.

RHP Luis Velasquez made his Double-A debut and got the win for the Patriots as he pitched two shutout innings with three strikeouts.

Game 2: L (13-3)

Bailey Dees took the loss on his first Double-A start since he was switched out of the bullpen.

Dees final line: 3.1 IP, 8 R, 5 H, 5 BB, 3K

Ramirez was the highlight of the game, going 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first inning, opening up the 2024 season with a home run in each of his first two games.

T.J. Rumfield scored the only other run in the game, going 2-for-3 and a walk.

Game 3: W (8-0)

The series finale on Sunday was by far the most exciting game for the Patriots, offensively and defensively. The game showcased RHP Trystan Vrieling's professional debut.

Vrieling was drafted by the Yankees in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft out of Gonzaga. He missed all of last season due to a stress fracture in his elbow. The Yankees were so impressed with Vrieling that they sent him to Double-A for his first professional start. Vrieling's pitching arsenal includes a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. On Sunday, he topped out at 96 mph, while his curveball and slider are also plus pitches. His curveball sits at 78 mph-82 mph and the slider is in the mid-80s.

Vrieling did not allow any runs through five innings as he earned his first win in his pro debut.

Ramirez went 1-for-4 and blasted a three-run home run in the seventh. He is now 4-for-14 with a batting average of .286 to begin the season and homered in three straight games to open up the season. The last time he homered in three straight games was in Hudson Valley last season in 2023. Rumfield was the last Patriot to homer in three straight games, who did it in five straight games last season.

The Somerset Patriots hit the road and face the Toronto Blue Jays Double-A Affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, for a six-game series from April 9th - April 14th. Blane Abeyta is set to start for the Patriots on Tuesday, and Brock Selvidge is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. 

Be sure to check out all season long for more Somerset Patriots Coverage.

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