Archive for September, 2013

Thunder Capture Third Eastern League Title

September 13, 2013

(PR) HARRISBURG, PA – The Trenton Thunder used a five-run 3rd inning to beat the Harrisburg Senators 11-4 for the third Eastern League Championship in franchise history.

Trenton- who finished the season on a season-high nine-game winning streak and has not lost since August 30th- was the first Eastern League team to sweep both the divisional and championship rounds of the postseason since Albany-Colonial (Yankees affiliate) did it in 1991. The championship for the Thunder is the first since the team won the second of their back-to-back titles in 2008.

The Thunder notched 16 hits in the ballgame including four as part of the five-run inning. Trenton sent 11 batters to the plate in that inning which knocked Harrisburg starting pitcher Nathan Karns out of the ballgame. Karns, who finished the regular season with 155 strikeouts in just over 130 innings, lasted just 2.2 innings and was charged with five runs on four hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.

In that 3rd inning, Trenton had two outs and a runner on first base with Jose Pirela batting. He had an 0-2 count against him before being plunked by Karns. That started a streak of seven straight batters to reach and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.

Trenton’s offense was led by three-hit nights by Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel. Gamel finished the postseason by batting 8-for-15 (.533 AVG) with three walks (.611 OBP) in four games played. Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin each finished with two hits on the night and all nine starters recorded hits for Trenton.

Postseason MVP was Ali Castillo who played just 46 games for the Thunder in the regular season, but was instrumental in many key moments for Trenton. Castillo, who rejoined Trenton’s roster after an injury to starting shortstop Carmen Angelini in the final series of the regular season, smacked his first homer as a member of the Thunder in the 5th inning to pad what was a 5-1 lead at the time for Trenton. He finished the postseason batting 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, a run scored and two RBI.

Shane Greene was the starting pitcher for the Thunder and tossed 5.1 innings for the victory. Down the stretch, Greene’s final three starts were in the Wild Card-clinching game at Portland August 31st, Game 3 of the Eastern Division Championship Series at Binghamton and Thursday’s title-clinching ballgame. He allowed two earned runs in 18.0 innings (1.00 ERA) and got the victory in each game.

The championship was the third for manager Tony Franklin in his seven seasons at the helm of the Thunder. It was also the third for Trenton third baseman Reegie Corona who was part of the 2007 and 2008 championship teams. The 26-year old had not appeared in an affiliated baseball game since 2010 due to an arm injury and finished with six hits in six postseason games.

The Trenton Thunder family wants to thank our fans for an incredible 2013 season, and we cannot wait for the 2014 season to begin at ARM & HAMMER Park next April.

Sweep, Sweep, Sweep

September 7, 2013

(PR) BINGHAMTON, NY – In a ballgame that featured 15 baserunners for the Binghamton Mets, Trenton’s pitching was able to strand all 15 in a 3-0 series-clinching win at NYSEG Stadium.

Trenton’s series sweep of the Binghamton Mets didn’t come without extra-inning heroics (Game 1), 9th inning suspense (Game 2) or even a benches-clearing altercation (Game 3), but the Trenton Thunder advanced to the Eastern League Championship Series for the fifth time in seven years under manager Tony Franklin.

The Thunder used six shutout innings by Shane Greene to allow the Thunder offense to strike first in the ballgame. Greene- who has not allowed a run in 13.0 innings over his last two starts- earned the victory for the Thunder while Danny Burawa tossed a scoreless 1.1 innings for the save.

Trenton scored a pair of runs in the 5th inning to open the scoring. Ali Castillo doubled and was driven home on an opposite-field single by Zoilo Almonte for the first run of the game. And then Jose Pirela hit a ball to shortstop that Wilfredo Tovar threw wide to first base allowing Ramon Flores to score.

In the middle of a sequence in which Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez, second baseman Danny Muno and shortstop Tovar were ejected, Thunder second baseman Jose Pirela was thrown from the game as well. The scene unfolded in the bottom of the 7th inning with the Thunder ahead 3-0 and Binghamton trying to rally with runners on first and second base and no outs.

Wilfredo Tovar hit a ground ball to second base when Pirela flipped to Trenton shortstop Ali Castillo to begin a double-play. The relay throw from Castillo never materialized, however Danny Muno was ruled to have interfered with Castillo on the slide and Tovar was ruled out at first base as a result. From there, the four ejections were handed down as a flood of Thunder and B-Mets players and coached streamed from the dugout and bullpens towards the center of the diamond.

The fracas set-off a ten minute delay in the ballgame as the umpires restored order and tried to sift through the ejections. It appeared no punches were thrown.

Trenton awaits the winner of the Harrisburg Senators-Erie SeaWolves series to see which team from the West Division will travel to ARM & HAMMER Park for Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series starting Tuesday.  Tickets are available for Game 1 of the ELCS by going to www.trentonthunder.com/tickets or by calling (609)394-3300. Radio coverage of Tuesday’s game on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and online coverage begins at 6:45 p.m.

ELDS Game 2: Post-Game Notes

September 6, 2013

— Raise your hand if you had Zoilo Almonte and Ali Castillo being the guys drive in the Thunder’s runs last night.

I’m not seeing a lot of hands.

But that’s how it played out on Thursday night, and Mikey O’Brien made sure it was enough.  O’Brien struggled with command early in his Game 2 outing, walking four batters before getting an out in the third inning.  But he settled in, held the best regular-season team in the Eastern League to just one run on two hits over six innings of work and gave his team a chance to win.

“Those first couple innings, I just couldn’t get a rhythm for anything,” he said.  “I just had to battle and hope they hit it right at our guys.  I tried not to think about the previous innings and what I was doing by walking guys or falling behind.  I just tried to clear my mind and start over.”

The win was, as all playoff wins are, huge for Trenton as the series now shifts to Binghamton for the next three games (Games 4 and 5 if necessary).

“We’ve won two games and it’s great, we’re in a good position right now.  But we haven’t done anything yet,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.  “All we’ve done is won two games and put ourselves in a pretty good position.  We’ve got to get one more.  Like I said yesterday, they’re a gritty bunch of guys and I don’t expect them to roll over.  They’re going to come out fighting.”

Neither team looked to be an offensive juggernaut on Thursday.  Trenton got its run on a sacrifice fly by the rehabbing Almonte, and did its big damage on an RBI double by unlikely hero Ali Castillo.  Zach Nuding and Tommy Kahnle were excellent in relief, and just like that, the Thunder were up two games to nothing in a series not many gave them a chance to win.

“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing as far as taking it one game at a time and just putting together quality at-bats.  Our pitchers are going up there throwing strikes, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately. If we keep that same mindset, good things will happen,” said first baseman Kyle Roller.

“We play well as a team together.  It’s not just one guy doing it, it’s a different guy every night.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELDS Game 2: Pre-Game Notes

September 5, 2013

6:30 PM — Not too much to say. Zoilo Almonte says his ankle feels “very good” and he’s not sure how long he’ll be here. He said many other things as well. I’ll write that up after the game. Whee!

4:25 PM — Lineups are here, and Ben Gamel is on the bench for the Thunder one day after his walk-off hit won Game 1 for them.

B-Mets: Muno 2B, Rodriguez 3B, Hughes 1B, Dykstra DH, Vaughn LF, Taijeron RF, Ceciliani CF, Forsythe C, Tovar SS, Gorski P

Thunder: Flores LF, Almonte RF, Pirela 2B, Sanchez C, Austin DH, Roller 1B, Williams CF, Corona 3B, Castillo SS, O’Brien P

4:00 PM — Just when I thought I could solely focus on just a playoff game, a rehabber has arrived from the Bronx.

Zoilo Almonte, who played for the Thunder in 2011 and 2012, played in 26 games with the Yankees earlier this season, but sprained his left ankle on July 19 and has been out ever since.

I’ll have lineups for you later, but rest assured he’ll be in it somewhere.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: Ben Gamel Walk-Off Single, ELDS Game 1

September 5, 2013

ELDS Game 1: Post-Game Notes

September 5, 2013

— The Thunder were going down one game to none in this series. It was going to happen. It was an out away from happening. A strike away from happening.

And then? Then, it didn’t happen.

After Pat Venditte coughed up two runs in the top of the 10th inning to put the Mets up, 5-3, Binghamton put All-Star closer Jeff Walters in the game to close it out. Strikeout by Mason Williams. Groundout by Ramon Flores. Nobody on, two out, and the best stopper in the league on the mound.

Game over, right? Nope.

Jose Pirela doubled to give the Thunder a small glimmer of hope. Then, Walters had Gary Sanchez down 0-2 after he swung and missed at his first two offerings. But Sanchez wouldn’t die. He fouled a pitch off, then took a very close offspeed pitch that just missed the plate. After fouling off another pitch, Sanchez singled through the middle to score Pirela and cut the deficit to just one.

Tyler Austin, who made some waves with a pre-game comment about how Binghamton starter Noah Syndergaard would be in for a long night, backed up his words one more time (albeit against Walters this time) with an infield single, and then Casey Stevenson tied the game 5-5 on a single to left. On the first pitch he saw, Ben Gamel then won the game with a line drive to right field.

Down 1-0? How about up 1-0 and they beat Binghamton’s ace to do it?

Below, find post-game comments from Thunder manager Tony Franklin, outfielder Tyler Austin and designated hitter Ben Gamel about the improbable victory.

TONY FRANKLIN

“This is kind of what we’ve done all year and kind of what we’ve talked about all year, and that’s just to keep playing. No matter what the circumstances or where we are in the game, just keep playing. We’ve done that a couple times this last couple of weeks, and it’s worked out very well for us.”

“It’s part of the makeup of this team. If you go back to when we got here in April and everyone is asking me about what kind of team I think we have, I didn’t know. I know now. We don’t have a lot of the same guys, but I think the guys that we had established the team we were going to be, and we were going to grind it out no matter what. The guys who have joined us, they picked up right where the guys who are gone left off.”

“We’ll find out (what this type of win does) tomorrow. That’s when you find out, you hope that it’s going to carry over to tomorrow. It would have been a tough one to lose for us, the way things were turning out.”

“It’s tough to get runs off those guys, it’s tough to beat pitchers like Syndergaard and Walters. I’m not saying it’s any more special, but they’re the class of the league.”

BEN GAMEL

“I was really just looking for something up, something I could handle. I put a good swing on it.”

“Two quick outs, then Petey hits a double, Tyler got a hit up the middle, Gary hits a line drive…it’s unreal. The heart and determination this team has, we all kind of feed off each other. Just like that, we’re back in it.”

“We put a lot of good at-bats together, and that’s what kept the momentum going. The pitchers kept us in the game, they never let it get out of reach.”

TYLER AUSTIN

“I guess (the prediction came true). It’s a big win. And against him, he’s a great pitcher, and I’m not taking anything away from him or any of their staff. They’ve got a great team, great staff. But like I said (before the game), this team’s got heart. We came to play, and we gave it everything we had from the opening pitch to the last one of the game.”

“We just believe in one another, we believe in each guy that steps into the box and we believe in every guy we throw out there on the mound. That’s what we take out there. This is a great team, and I’m excited to see what the next few games have to hold.”

“That’s definitely big coming in here and getting the first game, especially at home and knowing that we potentially have to play three games at their place. It’s always big to come here and get Game 1 at home.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Noah Syndergaard Strikeout Reel, 9/4/2013

September 5, 2013

If you have a short attention span or not a lot of time on your hands and just want to see the strikeouts…here you go:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: COMPLETE OUTING, Noah Syndergaard (9/4/2013)

September 5, 2013

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: Bryan Mitchell, First Two Innings (9/4/2013)

September 5, 2013

ELDS Game 1: Pre-Game Notes

September 4, 2013

6:00 PM — “We’re excited about (facing Syndergaard).  It’s going to be a long night for him.”

Those were the words of Tyler Austin before the game.  In about four hours, we’ll all find out how true they are.  Trenton faces arguably one of the top prospects in all of baseball tonight, but here’s the thing…Bryan Mitchell is no pushover either.

“I think Mitchell is going to give them something to look at tonight,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.  “As much as Noah Syndergaard is going to give us something to look at, I think it’s going to be a pretty good matchup.”

Franklin downplayed facing Syndergaard…

“We’re going to approach this just like we always do, I just can’t see doing it any other way,” he said.  “I don’t think just because there’s a lot written about how good this kid is — and let’s face it, he’s pretty good… — when we’re facing pitchers of this caliber, we approach it like any other pitcher.  We know he’s good, and if we can get to him early, we’ve got a shot.  That’s the way we have to look at it.”

Franklin also downplayed his team being the underdog in the series, having finished 12 games behind the B-Mets in the standings.

“The amount of games that we were behind is no indication of how good I think we are,” he said.  “But let’s face it, Binghamton has had a year like no other…how often do you get to have a year like that?  You have years like that because you have good baseball players.”

4:45 PM — Noah Syndergaard is pitching.  What else do you need to know?  Lineups?  Fine, fine…

Trenton: Williams CF, Flores LF, Pirela 2B, Sanchez C, Austin RF, Roller 1B, Gamel DH, Corona 3B, Castillo SS, Mitchell P

Binghamton: Muno 2B, Rodriguez 3B, Hughes 1B, Dykstra DH, Vaughn LF, Taijeron RF, Ceciliani CF, Forsythe C, Tovar SS, Syndergaard P

Going to head down to the clubhouse in a half an hour to get some info for you guys…