By MICHAEL RADANO
Campbell's Field has proven to be nothing if not a big ballpark.
In a league that features short porches and trade winds that blow even the meekest of drives over walls, Campbell's has been an anomaly.
That was before the Somerset Patriots came to town.
Somerset, which has won five consecutive games to start the second half and 15 of its last 17, beat the Camden Riversharks 9-3 in front of 2,987 faithful Wednesday night at Campbell's.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Sharks, who fell four games behind South Division-leading Somerset in the Atlantic League. For a team that struggled in the first half and finished with the second-worst record in the league, a slow start was the last thing Camden needed.
The teams combined for eight extra-base hits, six of which were home runs. That came on the heels of a combined 14 extra-base hits Tuesday, in a game that featured five home runs. The big hit Wednesday was a three-run home run by Mike Glavine that gave the Patriots a 5-2 lead after 3“ innings.
Glavine, who was 0-for-9 in the series up to that point, hit a drive over the left-field wall with one out.
"I knew at the beginning of the year, when we got to July the ball would carry better," Sharks manager Wayne Krenchicki said. "But left-handers don't hit balls out to left here. I was surprised that ball went out."
One inning later, the Patriots, Charles Poe hit a three- run home run that was the first real threat to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge's abutment, which looms 525 feet from home plate. Poe's home run traveled an estimated 480 feet and fell just short of the access road that runs between the bridge and the stadium.
"I thought it was going to hit the flag," said Krenchicki, who smiled for the only time after the game. "I' m serious. I really thought it was going to hit the flag. I' d be proud to give up a home run like that."
"You don't like to show up a pitcher," Poe said. "You just wish you don't have to show up a pitcher and watch it. I would love to have watched it."
Kevin Dattola's solo home run off reliever Rod Bolton in the seventh inning finished the Patriots scoring. His blast over the right-field wall disappeared into the night and had intentions of rolling down Delaware Street to the Riverfront State Prison facility.
"We did joke around about hitting the bridge and, what do you call it, the abutment,'' Dattola said. ``But after batting practice yesterday, we didn't think we'd hit any home runs."
Somerset (44-24 first half, 5-0 second half) jumped to a 2-0 lead on the newly found power of Billy Hall and the continued struggles of the Sharks outfield.
Hall, the Patriots leadoff hitter, led off the game with a home run to left. Hall's third home run of the year came one day after he had given Somerset the game-winning home run Tuesday night in the Patriots 10-7, 13-inning win over Camden.
Sharks starter Frankie Sanders looked to be out of the inning when, with two outs and Emiliano Escandon on first with a walk, Poe lofted a fly to right. Campbell's swirling winds played havoc with the ball, and right fielder Jacob Brumfield failed to come up with the ball. With two outs, Escandon was off with the crack of the bat and scored the second run of the game on the play.
The Sharks (25-43, 1-4) battled back and tied the game with single runs in the second and third innings.
Guillermo Garcia hit a solo home run, his ninth of the season and the sixth consecutive game he has gotten a hit, in the second to cut the deficit in half. With two outs in the third, Darrell Nicholas hit a double to center to score Jesus Azauje to tie the game 2-2.