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

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ELDS Game 3 - Postgame Notes

Final score: Trenton 3, Reading 1

Synopsis: After a sterling duel between Ethan Martin and Mikey O'Brien and the Thunder bullpen, David Adams cracked a 1-1 tie with a sharp single to right field, scoring Tyler Austin. Austin had led off the inning with his first Double-A postseason hit. Zoilo Almonte, who had Trenton's first RBI, added an insurance run with a single off of reliever Tyler Knigge. 

Snapping out: In a season full of professional at-bats from as professional a hitter as you'll find, Adams waited until Martin finally started to lose command, and then pounced. He lined a 2-2 pitch that was supposed to be in but leaked out over the plate into short right for the game winner. 

Not only did it win the game, but it got Adams off a nasty postseason schneid in which he was 1 for 13 with seven strikeouts. 

“After the last few games and those first three at-bats, I was mostly just going up there battling. I got down 1-2, and at that point I was just thinking, just put the ball in play. Fortunately I did that. It wasn’t the hardest hit, but it was in the right spot.”

Pick a winner: Before Adams' hit, the biggest play of the game was easily Lee Hyde picking off Darin Ruf at first after intentionally passing him to pitch to Tug Hulett. The play was months in the making and was installed, oddly enough, by Luke Murton, Trenton's erstwhile first baseman who was promoted to Triple-A just before the playoffs. 

The play worked a lot like backdoor pickoff at second, where the shortstop or second baseman sneak in behind the runner before the pitcher whirls around and throws. In this case, first baseman Tyler Austin was the one who snuck in and slapped the tag on Ruf before Hyde had even thrown a pitch to Hulett. 

“All the credit goes to Luke Murton,” Lee Hyde said. “We were doing PFPs … probably two months ago. I had the snap throw – I picked off a couple of guys with it early in the season. Usually on the back pick to lefties, the first baseman breaks off … but Murton came up with the idea of trying to sneak in behind him and have me do the snap throw. It was a good spot for it, and it worked out for us.”

I wanna be like Mikey: For the second time in his last few starts, Mikey O'Brien came up absolutely nails when his team needed him most. The first time was during the team's four-game set in Akron early last month. He one-hit the Aeros for 6 2/3 innings during the Thunder's second of three wins against what at the time was the league's best team. 

He only went five frames tonight, but he yielded just one run on three hits and touched as high as 96 on the radar gun. Given the caliber of the arms in the bullpen behind him (we'll get to them later), that's more than enough. 

O'Brien said he didn't necessarily change anything, but he did feel a little more amped during Friday's win. 

“I don’t do anything different. Focus is still the same. My routine is still the same. I don’t do anything different. I guess it’s just a little extra adrenaline rush.”

Works of Martin: On the other side, Ethan Martin put forth probably the best pitching performance I've ever seen in five years of covering this team. He struck out 11 Thunder hitters in 7 2/3 innings before Adams knocked him from the game. He walked none, which is especially impressive considering the reputation for spotty command he brought with him from the Dodgers organization. 

“I felt like I had pretty good command and had a pretty good idea on every hitter of what I wanted to do. Going into that last inning I think I still had the stuff I had for the majority of the game – I just missed spots and they capitalized on it.”

A no-bull pen: In 13 innings of relief (counting Shaeffer Hall's outing on Thursday), Trenton's bullpen has surrendered just one run on five hits, good for an ERA of 0.69. Branden Pinder got the biggest out Thursday when he retired Darin Ruf in the eighth, and Tommy Kahnle, Lee Hyde and Mark Montgomery did yeoman's work over the final four frames on Friday.

Aard to Beat: David Aardsma will make his second rehab outing with Trenton on Saturday, this time in relief of Nik Turley. He'll only pitch one inning, and he doesn't know exactly when it will be. With a series win possibly in the balance, he'll have to be a little better than he was on Thursday if he wants to do his share of the lifting. 

Picks to click: Here are my game story and notes from Friday's proceedings.

Flicks to click: Here is a short highlight reel I put together. It includes O'Brien whiffing Ruf, Almonte doubling in a run, Tyler Austin singling to start the rally, and Adams getting the winning hit. 


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