Posts Tagged ‘Noah Hall’

Best of 2007: Moment #9

February 29, 2008

Moment #9 – Trenton finally beats Portland in the playoffs
September 8, 2007
Portland, ME

In their first 13 seasons, the Trenton Thunder not only had never won a playoff series, they’d never had a 2-1 series lead.

With the first two games between Trenton and the Portland Sea Dogs at Waterfront Park split down the middle and making the series little more than a best-of-three, it was obvious that Game 3 at Portland’s Hadlock Field would be the turning point.

Daniel McCutchen got the nod in the pivotal third game for the Thunder, the first postseason start of his brief professional career.

“You have to take the same approach, even though it’s going to be a little more intense than a regular season game,” McCutchen said.

“I know (Portland) has some pretty good hitters, and we have a pretty good scouting report on them. I just have to pitch to my strengths, and go right at them.”

That’s exactly what the 24-year-old righty did, allowing only one run on three hits over six innings of work, leading the Thunder to a tight 3-2 victory and their elusive two games to one series lead.

The 30th ranked prospect in the Yankees system, according to Baseball America, McCutchen retired 11 straight batters at one point in the game.

With Jeff Marquez on the mound for Game 4 with the Thunder on the brink of advancing to the championship series for the first time in franchise history, there was little doubt that Trenton would break their 13-year curse.

The 15-game winner continued the domination of Thunder starting pitching in this series, combining with Eric Wordekemper and Justin Pope on a five-hit shutout. In fact, Thunder starters allowed just three earned runs over 26.2 innings pitched (1.02 ERA).

And just like that, the Trenton Thunder would be headed to the Eastern League Championship Series.

The first two games of the series, held in Trenton, seemed to be where the Thunder needed to make their mark. Chase Wright, who made two starts for the Yankees earlier this season, started the series opener, and Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Alan Horne was on the bump for the second game.

Wright outdueled top Boston prospect Justin Masterson in the first game, getting a little revenge against the Red Sox — who hit four straight home runs off of him in his last big league start.

“I’ve faced them a couple of times since I’ve been back, and they’ve roughed me up a little bit, so when I saw that I was going to get a rematch, it was nice to be able to go out there and beat them,” Wright said.

Masterson, drafted in the second round out of San Diego State just last year, looked like the inexperienced pitcher he is, having a difficult time locating his pitches in his five innings of work.

It was an assessment he didn’t necessarily agree with.

“I did exactly what I wanted to do,” said Masterson, who picked up the loss after allowing two runs on seven hits.

He also walked a batter, hit another, and threw a wild pitch.

“I actually felt pretty good out there. I gave up seven hits or something like that, but four or five of those never left the infield. Every hit was at least a ground ball, and that’s exactly what I want to do,” said Masterson, who got 10 of his 15 outs on the ground.

Noah Hall, who started the season with the independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, found his way back into the starting lineup after a long stretch on the bench late in the season, and provided a key run scoring single in the win.

“It feels good,” Hall said.

“This season has really worked out well. Having done well in my short time playing, maybe I’ll get another opportunity next year.”

In Game 2, Horne and Sea Dogs knuckleballer Charlie Zink matched each other frame for frame, with the Thunder ace carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and Zink giving Portland seven strong innings of his own.

The contest lasted over four hours, with Portland scoring the eventual game-winning run on a wild play to give them the 3-2 win.

With two outs in the 13th Inning and a runner at first Base, Portland right fielder Jay Johnson singled to give the Sea Dogs runners on the corners. Andrew Pinckney then hit a ball off the glove of the diving first baseman, Cody Ehlers. The ball deflected back to the pitcher, Kevin Whelan, who flipped the ball back to Ehlers, who dropped it, allowing the runner on third to score.

The Thunder’s first playoff series victory helped get rid of the bitter taste left in the mouths of Trenton fans after the past two seasons, as they’d lost to the Sea Dogs in the first round of the playoffs in 2005 and 2006.

What made that pill even more difficult to swallow was that Portland was the affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.  Even at the Double-A level, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is an intense and important one.  And this time, it would be the Yankees who’d come out on top.

Recapping the Top 20 so far…

#9 – Trenton finally beats Portland in the playoffs
#10 – Shelley Duncan’s Impact With The Yankees
#11 – The emergence of Austin Jackson
#12 – Tony Franklin named Thunder manager
#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Hooray For Recycling!

January 14, 2008

Scott Patterson / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I cover the team for the Hunterdon County Democrat.  Unfortunately, pretty much nobody in Mercer County has ever heard of my paper…or myself, for that matter.

So with that in mind, and moment #17 in the top 20 countdown set to be unveiled tomorrow, I figured it might be time to revisit my Thunder awards handed out in the Democrat last October.  I’m sure the 2007 season is still very fresh in some minds, so I’m curious to see what everyone’s thoughts will be on my choices for the second annual Ashmore Awards: Thunder Edition.

It’s just like NBC’s old slogan for re-runs…if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

——–

(Article reprinted as it appeared in the paper on October 18, 2007)

Of the hardware handed out to the Trenton Thunder this year, this may be the most insignificant yet.

They won the championship, had the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, had one player make the postseason All-Star team, and Thunder alums Ian Kennedy and Edwar Ramirez were recently named the Minor League starter and reliever of the year by MILB.com.

But still, this is the fifth season you can find these awards in the Democrat, and my second year of handing them out. Drumroll please…

Ashmore’s 2007 Thunder MVP: Noah Hall (OF)

The Thunder used 54 players in 2007, and it was much easier to pick out the players who shouldn’t be under consideration than narrow down the list of those that should.

There really was no position player whose numbers were far and above everyone else’s this season, but when it comes down to the intangibles, it’s hard to overlook outfielder Noah Hall and his veteran leadership.

Hall, a 2006 Eastern League All-Star, was signed by the Yankees after just one day with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. The 30-year-old led the Thunder in batting average for the majority of the season, but found himself on the bench in favor of whatever prospects passed through Waterfront Park.

But he never complained, and always contributed whenever he was in the lineup. His ninth inning home run took Roger Clemens off the hook back when the Rocket came to Trenton on May 23rd, and his walk-off opposite field double in the championship series provided one of the most memorable moments in Thunder history.

Scott Stanchak’s Previous Winners: Brian Myrow (2003), Mitch Jones (2004), Shelley Duncan (2005)

Ashmore’s Previous Winner: Randy Ruiz (2006)

Ashmore’s 2007 Thunder Cy Young: Alan Horne and Scott Patterson

Who’s more important; the starter with the 12-4 record, or the reliever who allowed nine earned runs all season?

While it was Alan Horne, the starter, who gave Trenton their first Eastern League Pitcher of the Year since Carl Pavano, it was hard to overlook the accomplishments of Patterson, as the Yankees so frequently have.

Patterson, the lanky Pittsburgh native with the funky delivery, finished the year at 4-2 with an ERA of just 1.09. He made three spot starts, had two saves, and was Tony Franklin’s most reliable pitcher all season.

But that’s not to say that Horne didn’t accomplish anything this year. His 3.11 ERA and 165 strikeouts led the league, and his 12 wins were second on the team to Jeff Marquez, who led the league with 15.

One of the more overlooked pitching prospects in the system, he may have done the most out of anyone on the Thunder roster to take the fast track to the big leagues.

Scott Stanchak’s Previous Winners: Andy Beal (2003), Dave Shepard (2004), Justin Pope (2005)

Ashmore’s Previous Winner: Phil Hughes (2006)

Ashmore’s 2007 Thunder Good Guy: Jason Brown

This award is about as difficult to hand out as the MVP was. There are just so many players who could get it, so it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.

But in the end, backup catcher Jason Brown will be taking home the Good Guy honors.

Brown would sit down and take time to answer any question about any pitcher, no matter how many times he’d been asked the same thing by other reporters. Well respected by his teammates and the media, Brown could frequently seen signing autographs for young fans down the first base line, and volunteered to “model” the new Thunder jerseys at a mid-season press conference, which further endeared him to team officials.

Injuries and limited playing time kept his statistics low, and there’s talk that Brown may join the coaching ranks in 2008. If that’s the case, he’ll be the honorary manager of the Good Guy squad.

Ashmore’s Previous Winner: Charlie Manning (2006)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com