Anthony Volpe celebrates after hitting a game-winning two-run homer that stamps the first half title and a playoff berth for the Patriots in a 6-5 win over Hartford, June 26, 2022. Photo: Somerset Patriots.

The calendar may not read September, but the Somerset Patriots will be playing some serious late-September baseball this year. That much is for sure after Anthony Volpe stamped the first half Eastern League Northeast Division title with a walk-off – two-run homer against the Hartford Yardgoats.

The Patriots won 6-5, splitting a hard-fought six-game series with the Goats who held a one-game lead over Somerset going into Saturday night.

The wild matinee at TD Bank Ballpark was a scoreless affair for six-and-a-half innings before Somerset plated four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 4-0 lead. Anthony Volpe was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the first run. Later Elijah Dunham cleared the bases with a double to left.

It looked like Somerset was on its way to not only winning the game, but getting a victory for Aroldis Chapman in the process. Chapman had pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the seventh in his outing with Somerset since the Yankees sent him down on a rehab assignment.

Unfortunately Josh Maciejewski and Carlos Espinal couldn’t hold the lead.

A fielding error by Volpe allowed Brenton Doyle to reach. That was quickly followed by an RBI double by Willie Maclver to cut the Patriots lead down to 4-1.

After a wild pitch by Maciejewski allowed Maclver to head to third, Niko Decolati drove him in on a single to center, cutting the Patriots lead in half.

A walk to Isaac Collins forced Somerset to go to the bullpen in the form of Carlos Espinal. Espinal got Daniel Montero on a sac bunt attempt for the first out, and later got Ezequiel Tovar on a pop up to Volpe at shortstop for the second out.

However Jimmy Herron’s double to left drove home both Decolati and Collins, tying the game at four.

Hartford would take the lead in the top of the tenth on a RBI groundout by Tovar to make it 5-4.

So it all came down to this. With the free runner on second, Volpe came to the dish and fell behind 0-2 before taking a pitch for a ball. One a 1-2 count, Volpe got a pitch he could handle and sent it sailing over the center field wall for a two-run homer sending TD Bank Ballpark into complete bedlam.

The Patriots are first half champions off the bat of the Yankees number 1 prospect; a prospect who has been killing the baseball in the month of June and continues to show why the Yankees are so high on him.