(PR) (Portland, ME) – Trenton collected 15 hits and built a big early lead, then held off a late Portland rally to win the season-opening series as the Thunder topped the Sea Dogs, 9-7, Sunday afternoon at a windy Hadlock Field. Francisco Rondon (1-0) won in his first start since August 2009 while Rob Segedin picked up three hits and three RBI.
The five of the top six hitters in Trenton’s lineup had multiple hits – Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores and Neil Medchill had two apiece while Segedin and Tyler Austin each went 3-for-5. Casey Stevenson picked up two RBI in his first game played with the Thunder.
Clinging to a two-run lead in the ninth, Trenton closer Branden Pinder gave up a leadoff single to Derrik Gibson, then two outs later walked MLB-rehabbing Stephen Drew to put the tying runs on base. Pinder ended the game by inducing a foul pop out by clean up batter Tony Thomas on a 3-2 pitch.
The Thunder went ahead 5-0 after four times at bat against Portland starter Kyle Kaminska (0-1). Stevenson’s RBI single highlighted a two-run second inning, while Segedin’s two-run double made it 4-0 after three. Flores collected the first of his two RBI singles in the fourth, and it appeared Trenton was on its way to an easy win.
Rondon allowed three solo home runs in the next two innings, including back-to-back blasts by Derrik Gibson and Shannon Wilkerson in the fifth that cut the deficit to 5-3. Rondon lasted five frames and allowed four hits while striking out six and walking only one.
Trenton’s two-run rally in the seventh included Segedin’s RBI single, but Portland scored two in the bottom of the inning against reliever Danny Burawa to cut the Thunder lead to 7-5. Medchill’s RBI hit against Miguel Celestino in the eighth capped another two-tally inning and put Trenton ahead 9-5.
Michael Almanzar’s second solo homer of the game for the Sea Dogs was part of a two-run response against Tommy Kahnle in the home half of the eighth and made again cut the deficit to two runs. Four of Portland’s eight hits on the afternoon were solo home runs.
Trenton next heads to Manchester, N.H. for a three-game series with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Game one is scheduled for Monday night beginning at 6:35 pm, with left-hander Matt Tracy (NR) is expected to start for Trenton in his EL debut while New Hampshire counters with righty Ryan Tepera (NR). Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 6:20 pm.