Thunder split with Reading
In a game that featured a team-record four triples, including three in the third inning and two from left fielder Justin Christian (also a team record), the Thunder ransacked Reading, 12-2, and clawed their way back into a tie for first place with New Hampshire.
‘They stole that last one from us,“ Christian said. ‘Guys came out a little more focused, a little bit more determined, and it showed in the play today.
‘I am, personally, still a little bit upset with that New Hampshire series,“ Christian continued. ’A bunch of guys probably feel adamant about going out and performing well after that.“
Matt Cusick – who swatted a two-run double in game one – Christian and Marcos Vechionacci in the big third against a combination of starter Jason Anderson and reliever Tyson Brummett.
Rene Rivera swatted a three-run jack in the sixth to pad Trenton’s lead and give spot starter Cory Arbiso more than enough support to earn his fourth win.
Game one, however, wasn’t so rosy.
Reliever Ryan Pope allowed three runs in the seventh to turn what looked like a win into a devastating and costly 6-5 loss.
He allowed the first three men to reach on two solid singles and a beautiful drag bunt from Harold Garcia. Timo Perez then bounced into a double play that brought home the fourth score and briefly gave Trenton hope.
Any thoughts of extrication, however, were squelched when Matt Rizzotti, Tagg Bozied and Kevin Mahar strung together the successive singles that drove home the tying and winning runs.
The outing was Pope’s worst since July 9, when he allowed five runs – four earned – on four hits in three innings against the Bowie Baysox.
Before the meltdown, Corban Joseph let everyone still mourning the loss of Brandon Laird to Triple-A know that the drop in production wouldn’t exactly be precipitous.
The left-hander in his first Double-A game swatted a two-run triple into the right-field corner, bringing home Christian and Austin Krum with the first runs against Naylor, who had looked brilliant until that point.
Overall, Joseph finished 2-for-3 with a double, the triple, two runs and two RBIs, picking right up where Laird left off before he was promoted.
For five innings, Trenton starter D.J. Mitchell was dazzling, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk. He allowed back-to-back longballs to Bozied and Mahar in the sixth.
The effort was just another in a solid streak that the skinny Clemson alum has put together since the All-Star break. Since returning from Harrisburg, Mitchell has allowed no more than three earned runs in any of his four starts, and has struck out 18 against just five walks.
NOTES: Last night was Ryan Howard Garden Gnome night at FirstEnergy Stadium. The figurines drew lines of fans at the stadium’s gates as early as 2 p.m.
It also drew an announced crowd of 8,508, most of whom actually stayed for the game after collecting their ceramic bounty. At press time, these gnomes were going for as much as $150 on eBay.