PORTLAND, ME – The Trenton Thunder took leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in Thursday’s series opener against the Portland Sea Dogs before falling 4-3 before 5,072 at Hadlock Field.
Despite the setback, the Thunder’s playoff magic number was reduced to four with Hartford’s loss to Harrisburg Thursday evening. Trenton (81-50) is 2.5 games behind first-place Reading with 11 games remaining. Reading visits ARM&HMMER Psrk to close the regular season Labor Day Weekend.
It was a crisp late-summer night in New England, and the game started favored the home team right out of the gate. The first two pitches of the night from Ronald Herrera in the bottom of the first inning were lashed singles by Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon. Two batters later, the Sea Dogs had a 1-0 lead on an RBI fielder’s choice from Nate Freiman.
The very next inning, Trenton had seen its first five batters of the game set-down by Mitch Atkins before a single by Abiatal Avelino extended the inning for Mark Payton. Payton, who finished with a double and a walk as well, crushed a fly ball out of right field to thrust the Thunder ahead 2-1.
Portland tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning, and it wasn’t until the top of the fifth that Trenton jumped back ahead. With one out, Tyler Wade doubled into the right field corner. Dustin Fowler strode to bat and promptly tripled to right-centerfield to bring home Wade. The triple extended Fowler’s single-season Thunder record for triples in a season to 14, and placed him in sole possession of first place in all of Minor League Baseball.
The Sea Dogs rallied with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning on a fly ball home run over the Maine Monster in left field from Mauricio Dubon and Dubon responded his next time up with the game-winning double in the seventh inning.
The Thunder had runners on first and second base with one out in the ninth inning off Luis Ysla- and eventually got runners on the corners with two outs off Ysla- but he struck out Wade on the 25th pitch of the inning to lock down his third save of the season.
The Thunder and Sea Dogs return to action at 7 p.m. Friday first pitch at Hadlock Field. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 on 91.3 FM and online at www.trentonthunder.com.