I spent Sunday afternoon in Camden, watching the Sugarland Skeeters beat the Riversharks 5-1, so I missed seeing the Cincinnati Reds complete their sweep of the New York Mets. (Hopefully the Mets will remember how to score some runs tonight, or their homestand is going to turn really ugly.)
I met my friend Bart at the ballpark, and we were able to get tickets in the second row behind the visiting team’s dugout. (The tickets are $13 — the same price the Trenton Thunder charge for their day-of-game sales — which I find a bit surprising for an independent league club.) Camden announced a crowd of more than 4,000 and the ballpark did look better than half-full, so the do seem to be drawing ok.
On Sundays, the Riversharks hold a pre-game autograph session. They handed out team photos we could get signed, and most of the team participated. So that was a nice surprise. After we were done there, we went over to the visiting team’s dugout. Sugarland’s manager Gary Gaetti and a few of their players signed baseball cards for me.
The game was a quick, well-played affair that was over in just over 2 1/2 hours. Former Houston Astros outfielder Jason Lane put Sugarland on the board first with a two-run double in the third inning, and those turned out to be the only runs the Skeeters would need. Heath Phillips held the Riversharks to one run on three hits over seven innings, and Ryan McKellar added two scoreless frames to complete the 5-1 victory.
Former Newark Bears infielder Paddy Matera started at shortstop and led off for the Riversharks. He went 0-for-4, but made several nice fielding plays. I spoke to him briefly during the pre-game autograph session, and he said that he’s having a lot of fun playing in Camden.
On my way out, I stopped in the gift shop and picked up sets of Riversharks baseball cards from 2010 and 2011 – both sets were still full price at $10.
Overall, it was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. One minor criticisms, though: The Riversharks did not introduce any of the relief pitchers when they entered the game – I’m not sure why… they should at least be familiar with the pitchers on their own team.
If we get another nice Sunday with the Riversharks at home when I’m not supposed to be somewhere else, maybe I’ll find my way back to Camden again this season.