Trenton, NJ-The Trenton Thunder knuckled down against Mickey Jannis to secure their 2nd straight trip to the Eastern League Championships last night against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies by the final score of 9-1.
The Thunder, since 2007 had always made it to the Championship Game when they earned a playoff berth. Before 2007 Trenton never reached the Championship series. This year’s championship series trip will be their 7th potential run so far since that date.
Tomas Nido struggled to catch for knuckleballer Mickey Jannis, which included three passed balls in the 3rd inning leading to the Trenton Thunder scoring nine runs knocking out the Rumble Ponies bid for the Eastern League Championship Series. Jannis would go on to throw for only 3 and 1/3 innings earning four runs on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts earning the loss for the Rumble Ponies as they are eliminated from championship contention.
Will Carter got the start for the Thunder and had an impressive outing with 6, and 1/3 innings pitched allowing only one earned run on three hits, no walks and five strikeouts with only two wild pitches. The 2,632 fans in attendance at Arm & Hammer Park were impressed giving Carter a standing ovation, as he was relieved in the 6th inning by Raynel Espinal. “Just attacking guys, and the defense making plays, getting a lot of ground balls” was the key to success according to the Thunder starter. Manager Bobby Mitchell emphasized this. “He’s (Will Carter) been so consistent the last few outings that we have a lot of confidence in him. He’s gonna get ground balls all over the place, which he did.” Carter’s performance along with the Thunder rolling along with run support allowed Trenton to secure the final game of this series and head to the Championship Series for the second straight year, and its seventh run since 2007.
Offensively it was the players in Trenton all year behind the plate who led the offense of the Trenton Thunder to score six runs tonight. There was some apprehension amongst the Thunder about-facing Jannis, a knuckleballer. Manager Bobby Mitchell mentioned that this was the first time this season that his team faced a pitcher with a knuckleball as his primary pitch.
Jeff Hendrix went 3-3 on the day in a good outing behind the plate. Hendrix would lead off the game with a double leading to a run in the 1st. He also extended the Thunder lead in the 5th with a 2 RBI single, along with a single in the 7th inning. The right fielder reached a total of 5 times thanks to walks in the 3rd and 4th innings and also added a stolen base to his final stat line.
Thairo Estrada contributed with two RBI singles, first hitting home Hendrix back in the 3rd inning. The short stop would strike again with another RBI Single in the 5th on a three hit night for the Shortstop who hit for the cycle back on Thursday. Rest, according to Manager Bobby Mitchell has been key to Estrada’s offensive surge towards the end of this season.
Nick Solak contributed with a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning, along with a single and a stolen base both in the 5th inning.
Clint Frazier in a rehab assignment struggled at the plate striking out three times, reaching base only on a fielder’s choice error in the first, and a wild pitch strikeout in the 3rd.
Garrett Cooper also struggled in his rehab assignment with the Thunder only reaching base once on a passed ball after he struck out.
With strong pitching on the Thunder side along with some strong offensive performances the last two games as the team transitions towards its upcoming series against Altoona, a focus on hitting against a good pitching club will be on the mind headed into this week.
The Trenton Thunder will host the Altoona Curve on Tuesday and Wednesday night with a 7 pm start.