Thunder Wins Offensive Shootout, Forces Game Four; Thunder 11, Aeros 7
By Ronnie Tellalian
Hitters ruled the roost in Friday’s contest as the two rivals combined for 18 runs on 24 hits. With multiple lead changes, and scoring flourishes, the contest proved a wild one. Trenton, facing elimination, fought their way back and took Game Three at home 11-7.
Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 0.00) got the start for the Aeros. The Indian was assigned the first two innings of the game before turning the ball over to right-handed pitcher T.J. House (8-5, 3.98). House, a former 16th round draft pick out of Picayune High School in Mississippi, made his last start against the Bowie Baysox on September 6. In that game, he went five innings, giving up four runs on six hits. The Aeros had a 12-11 record when House took the mound. Taking the hill for Trenton was righty Mikey O’Brien (5-7, 4.20). O’Brien started the season in A+ for the Tampa Yankees, where he went 4-1 in six starts before being called up to Trenton.
The first inning started off promising for the Aeros. Thunder starting pitcher Mikey O’Brien struggled to find the zone, and frequently fell behind Akron hitters. Jordan Henry showed great plate discipline, waited for his pitch, and grounded a single up the middle to begin the game. The hot hitting Tyler Holt promptly sacrificed Henry to second. On the first pitch to designated hitter Chun Chen, Henry moved to third on an O’Brien wild pitch. Chen gave the Aeros the lead with a line drive single into right field, scoring Henry.
The Thunder answered quickly in the bottom half of the first. Trenton center fielder Adonis Garcia led off the inning with a single, followed by a Ramon Flores double that scored Garcia to tie the game. Another single from David Adams put runners on the corner, and up to the plate stepped Thunder right fielder Zoilo Almonte. Almonte has done some damage in this series, hitting a three run home run in game two at Canal Park. He continued that damage by crushing a Carlos Carrasco pitch over the fence in right field for a three run home run. The blast put Trenton up 4-1 through one inning of play.
Akron got one back in the second in the form of a solo home run by Adam Abraham. They continued their scoring rush in the third. Jordan Henry again led off an inning with a single, followed by a single from Holt, then another from Chen to load the bases. Another Trenton wild pitch brought Henry in, and Holt and Chen moved up a base. The hard hitting Jesus Aguilar then ripped a screaming line drive in the gap in right center, scoring Holt and Chen, and giving the Aeros back the lead at 5-4.
Chen and Aguilar teamed up again in the fifth to add to the lead. Chen chopped a ground ball up the middle with one out. Aguilar gained his second hit of the day with a single to left field to put runners on the corners. Matt Lawson, who was hitting .250 in this post season, added to that average with an RBI single, scoring Chen. Abraham earned his second RBI of the day, when his ground out scored Aguilar from third, and the Akron Aeros lead 7-4.
Trenton came roaring back in the bottom of the fifth inning. After Aeros pitcher T.J. House got two quick outs, Adonis Garcia smacked a single to get things going. Flores then drew the first walk of the day for the Thunders, and he was followed by Adams, who was hit by a House fastball. The bases were loaded for Almonte, who continued his hot hitting with a single that scored two, giving his fifth RBI on the day. Shortstop Addison Maruszak came up and smashed a liner into left center field. Abraham cut the ball off and made a great throw home, but was unable to get the sliding Almonte, as two more scored, and Trenton gains back the lead 8-7.
The Thunder added to that lead in the sixth inning, when Kevin Mahoney walked to start the inning. Mahoney attempted to steal second, and Perez chucked the ball into center field, sending Mahoney to third on the error. It proved costly, as two batters later, Mahoney scored on a groundout by Walter Ibarra. The gap is widened in the seventh, when Maruszak singled with one out. Catcher J.R. Murphy peppered a ball off the wall in center field, scoring Maruszak, and giving Trenton a 10-7 lead.
The Thunder didn’t stop there as they tacked on another run in the eighth. Garcia walked, and then stole second to put himself into scoring position. Adams stroked his second hit of the game to bring Garcia home, and make it a four run lead. Trenton 11, Akron 7.
For Game Four, Akron brings Toru Murata (3-1, 2.60) to the mound. Murata threw six innings his last time out against the Baysox, allowing only one run on four hits. Trenton will send out left hander Nik Turley (1-0, 5.40). Against the Reading Phillies in the Division Series, Turley earned the win, giving up three runs in five innings of work. Trenton will look to tie the series up, and take it to pivotal game five. Looking to finish the series off are Manager Chris Tremie’s Akron Aeros, who now lead the series 2-1.
Photo: Matthew White/DTTWLN.com photographer