— 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