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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stoneburner shuts down Harrisburg

For The Trentonian

TRENTON — Coming into last night’s clash with the Senator’s, the Thunder had not been playing crisp baseball. Lack of offensive production, miscues on the defensive side and multiple injuries resulted in a 2-5 start for Trenton, but the Thunder bats came to life early as Trenton put together a complete effort to earn an 8-1 win over visiting Harrisburg.

“I thought the guys played really relaxed tonight,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “It’s very early in the season. Young players have a tendency to start pressing. I just made it a point to walk around during batting practice and tell them to just relax, play your normal game and things will fall into place.”

On a chilly evening at Waterfront Park, the Thunder offense heated up. Thanks to a crooked number in the second inning from the Trenton bats and Graham Stoneburner’s solid start, the Thunder cruised to its first victory at home this season, taking game two of a four-game set.

“We were in a little bit of a spell,” Franklin said. “You start to wonder how long is this going to last. We just keep after it and things are going to turn around.”

Unlike recent games, the Thunder offense delivered big numbers. Trenton hit for a four-run second inning, and Stoneburner became more effective with the lead.

Designated hitter Cody Johnson shot a single up the middle to jump start the inning, Corban Joseph walked and eight-hitter, Addison Maruszak capitalized. The first basemen laced a double to left field, plating two runs, but that wasn’t all from Trenton. Following a bunt single from Ray Kruml, leadoff man Austin Krum brought home two more with a single up the middle, giving Stoneburner a quick 4-0 cushion.

Stoneburner, the 17th ranked prospect in the Yankees farm system, squandered leadoff doubles in both the first and second innings, but after receiving the lead, he was sharp, picking up his first win of 2011, and surprisingly, the Thunder’s first victory from a starting pitcher this year.

“He’s done a great job his two starts for us,” Franklin said. “He pitches to contact. He gets guys to put the ball in play and we made plays for him tonight.”

The 6-foot-1 product out of Clemson retired six straight after the four-run outburst, mixing in a pair of punch outs and four groundballs to sit down the Senators.

The Thunder tacked on to Thunder advantage with a soft two-RBI double from catcher Austin Romine that barely reached the outfield grass down the right field line. An RBI single from Johnson stretched Trenton’s lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning, exiting Harrisburg starter Ryan Tatusko.

The Thunder’s struggling offense that sported a .177 average entering last night, worst in the Eastern League, notched season highs in hits (11), runs in an inning (4) and runs scored (8), despite leaving the bases loaded twice.

The lone blemish in Stoneburner’s outing was a rocky top fifth in which the Senator’s loaded the bases with one out, and the righty allowed only one run on a sac fly.

Stoneburner surrendered one run in his first start, but took the loss because of little offensive support. Tonight was a different story. Stoneburner threw six impressive innings and his friends posted eight runs on the scoreboard.

Southpaw Kei Igawa worked three scoreless innings in relief for the save, putting on the finishing touches of an all-around performance from the Thunder.

“Tonight it was a clean game,” Franklin said. “Hopefully we can continue to build on our performance.”

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