Thunder clinch playoff spot
In fact, when approached about it afterward, most of the players were unaware it had finally happened.
Indeed, the Thunder’s 2-1 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night, coupled with a Binghamton loss against lowly New Britain, punched their card in next month’s division series, which more than likely will come against New Hampshire.
As a bonus, the victory also bumped the Thunder’s lead in the division to 2 ½ games, just a game down of where they started the series.
“No question about it, this was a good win for us,” skipper Tony Franklin said. “I’m pretty happy with the way we played tonight, after last night. That was a heck of an effort for us tonight.”
Just as they did in the eighth inning on Tuesday, the top of Trenton’s lineup put together a quick rally against New Hampshire. This time it came in the seventh against Randy Boone, who had looked impenetrable for the prior six innings.
With one out, Austin Krum – who entered last night 2 for his last 34, slapped a Boone offering into center field. Dan Brewer then slipped a knock the right side that Adam Loewen juggled, allowing runners to move to second and third.
“I was looking for something out there,” Brewer said. “I didn’t know if it was off (the plate) or not, but it was close enough where I had to swing. I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen.”
Austin Romine’s nubber to shallow shortstop on the next pitch pushed across Krum and left the go-ahead run at second for Corban Joseph, who, like Krum, was in a deep funk.
Joseph’s worked Boone to a 3-0 count, a situation in which, over the last few weeks, he’d normally be asked to take. Franklin played a hunch, however, and let Joseph hack away, expecting he’d see a fastball he could push to the right.
“With the way I’d been playing now, it’s exciting, because (it means) Skip has a lot of confidence,” Joseph said. “He saw kind of what I saw, and I put together a game plan. Normally that’s not necessarily the greatest 3-0 hack. When you get the green light you really want to crush the ball.”
Even without the greatest contact in the world, Joseph’s single gave the Thunder the edge they’d need to put this one in the win column, something they hadn’t done against New Hampshire since July 29. That win, coincidentally, also was at Boone’s expense.
It also backed up a second straight stellar outing from Adam Warren, who over the past two starts has looked more and more like a good choice to take the ball in Game 1 of the playoffs.
The right-hander, pitching on his 23rd birthday and with a week’s rest in his back pocket, looked every bit as good as he did during his last start, when he struck out 15 Baysox and broke a 16-year-old team record in the process.
Using a fastball that sat between 90 and 94 miles per hour and a loopy curve, Warren finished the evening with one run on three hits and a walk with a half dozen strikeouts. He threw 99 pitches during his outing, 62 of which were strikes.
“Getting beat the first few games against New Hampshire, we all wanted to come out and not get swept,” Warren said. “We were just looking to try to get one on them. Our whole team played well tonight, and we came out with a win.”
NOTES: The Thunder released their 2011 schedule yesterday, and the biggest difference was the amount of games they’ll play against Reading. They’ll play the R-Phils 18 times next year, including a stretch of eight straight sandwiched around the All-Star break. … John Van Benschoten arrived yesterday, complete with a name tag on his locker dubbing him “King Schoten.”