AKRON, OH — Eric Haase belted a go-ahead grand slam in the fifth inning and the RubberDucks bullpen held the line to take Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series, 6-3, from the Thunder on Tuesday night at Canal Park.
The Thunder grabbed the game’s first runs before Akron could get an at bat as Mike Ford pounded a two-run home run to deep right field in the top of the first inning.
Akron drew the game even in the third on an RBI single from rehabbing Cleveland Indians Catcher Yan Gomes and a fielders choice groundout from Jordan Smith. However, the Thunder took another lead, 3-2, with a pair of doubles in the fourth inning from Mark Payton and Billy McKinney.
The 3-2 lead for the Thunder wouldn’t last past the fifth inning as Akron loaded the bases against the starter Ronald Herrera with one out. Despite eight strikeouts from Ronald, the ‘Ducks forced the Thunder to turn to their bullpen because of a high pitch count from the starter, Herrera.
On the second pitch from Travis HIssong, Eric Haase cracked a grand slam home run to swing the game into the ‘Ducks favor.
From there, Akron starter Michael Peoples found his rhythm and finished seven innings to earn his first postseason victory in 2016. Peoples allowed three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, he struck out a season-high eight batters in the win.
The Thunder had a chance to get back onto the scoreboard in the eighth inning with two on and nobody out, however, David Speer and Cole Sulser combined on a strikeout of Mark Payton and double play ball to snuff out the rally. Sulser completed the five-out save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Billy McKinney led the Thunder offense with a pair of doubles an RBI and a walk on Tuesday night, he matched a franchise record with two doubles in a postseason game. The Thunder managed six extra base hits in the game, one shy of their season-high.
Your Thunder continue wil play Game Two of the series on Wednesday at 6:35pm at Canal Park. RHP Will Carter will go for the Thunder, LHP Rob Kaminsky will start for the RubberDucks. Listen live to Thunder baseball beginning at 6:50pm on 91.3 FM WTSR and online at TrentonThunder.com