Back home after a two-week trip, the Portland SeaDogs lost to an even hotter team.

The Somerset Patriots hit three home runs in the series opener Tuesday night at Hadlock Field as the top of the order, featuring some of the top prospects for the New York Yankees, did most of the damage for an 8-4 win in front of a crowd of 3,189.

It was the fifth straight win for the Patriots, 18-9 and just a half game behind Portland (19-9) for first place in the Eastern League’s Northeast Division. It was the second straight loss for the Sea Dogs, who went 8-4 on their 12-game trip.

The Patriots and Sea Dogs met in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs last season, with Somerset taking the best-of-3 series, 2-0.

Each of the first four hitters in Somerset’s lineup — shortstop Trey Sweeney, left fielder Jasson Dominguez, catcher Austin Wells and center fielder Everson Pereira — are ranked among the top six prospects in the Yankees’ organization by The quartet combined to score six runs and drive in five with Dominguez, Pereira and Wells each homering.

After Sweeney led off the game with a walk, Dominguez homered to right field, giving the Patriots a 2-0 lead. Pereira’s 453-foot blast over the left-field wall in the third pushed Somerset’s lead to 3-1. Wells hit a two-run shot in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to 6-1.


Sea Dogs starting pitcher Brian Van Belle allowed seven hits in four-plus innings, including the three home runs, and walked three for the third time in his last four starts.

Following Tuesday afternoon’s batting practice, Portland Manager Chad Epperson went over all the things the team has done well this season, especially on the two-week trip to Erie and Akron.

“I thought we swung the bats well. We’re continuing to run the bases hard. Anytime we can take 90 (feet)… we can continue to put pressure on the defense. We’re catching the baseball. It was a good road trip. Anytime you can do that on an extended trip, it’s always good,” said Epperson, who was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing when Ceddanne Rafaela was called out on strikes on a hitter’s clock violation.

Portland right fielder Phillips Sikes, who went 7 for 20 last week against Akron with three runs scored and four RBI, hit a solo home run over the left-field wall in the fifth inning to cut Somerset’s lead to 7-2. Otherwise what had been a hot-hitting Sea Dogs team cooled off. Portland struck out 11 times, and left nine runners on base, including the bases loaded in the first inning and again in the sixth.

“A lot of these guys, even if the numbers don’t show it, are impacting the baseball at the plate more. They’re swinging at better pitches. If we can continue to do that, the hitting is where it’s supposed to be,” Epperson said.

Led by outfielder Corey Rosier’s 15 steals entering Tuesday’s game, the Sea Dogs led the Eastern League with 58 stolen bases. Rosier picked up his 16th steal of the season by taking third base in the second inning.

The Sea Dogs scored a pair of runs on Somerset balks, with Stephen Scott scoring in the second inning and Alex Binelas in the sixth.

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