Bullpen combines for 13 scoreless innings, Thunder beat Akron in 18

TRENTON – Coming off a 7-game road-trip in which the Thunder lost 5 games, including a 3-game sweep against New Hampshire, Trenton was hungry for a win to get back on track and start off the homestand with the right foot.

In a quite tight and very long game, the Trenton Thunder were able to pull off a highly-needed win against the Akron RubberDucks in extra innings. After being down 3-1 through five innings, the Thunder were able to recover and score 2 runs in the 6th to tie the game up at 3. Likewise, after the RubberDucks scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 18th, Gary Sanchez hit a walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the inning, giving the Thunder their 11th win of the season and putting their winning percentage above .500 once again.

The Thunder’s starting pitcher, Brady Lail, was pulled after just four innings of work. He allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs, all of them in the fourth inning. Up until that point, Lail had dominated Akron, limiting them to just 2 BBs and no hits. He struck out 3 and left without a decision after the Thunder tied the game in the 6th. He now carries a 5.19 ERA this season and still looks for his first win in 5 starts.

The Thunder’s bullpen was key as they kept the RubberDucks scoreless for 13 innings until Akron scored the go-ahead run in the 18th. Johnny Barbato had another fantastic outing, pitching through 2.2 hitless innings, allowing only one runner to reach base on a BB and striking out 4. Cesar Vargas (1.1 IP), Mark Montgomery (2.0 IP), Alex Smith (3.0 IP), Caleb Cotham (2.0 IP), Dan Fiorito (2.0 IP), and Taylor Dugas (1.0 IP, W) combined for 11.1 scoreless innings pitched giving Trenton the chance to take their sweet time bringing the winning run in.

The Thunder’s last two relievers were position players. Fiorito, who pitched in high school and is now an infielder, came in after the Thunder ran out of bullpen arms and gave a solid two scoreless innings. When asked what he thought of Fiorito’s outing, manager Al Pedrique, who had been out of the game since being ejected in the 5th inning after arguing a Pace of Play rule HP Umpire called on OF Mason Williams, said that “it’s great. I was surprised he was throwing 91, 92 MPH.” Pedrique didn’t recall Fiorito throwing that hard in his last appearance earlier this year.

Taylor Dugas, originally an outfielder and not much of a hard-thrower himself, got bat around a little in the beginning of the 18th inning. A double by Erik Gonzalez and a subsequent RBI single by Yandy Diaz gave the RubberDucks the lead at that point. He was able to get out of the inning without any more damage, allowing him to get away with the win after the Thunder walked it off.

Akron’s starter, Will Roberts, on the other hand, pitched well enough to score a quality start. Through 6 innings, Roberts allowed 3 earned runs on 6 hits, no walks and 3 strikeouts. Roberts was also quite dominant through 5 innings, but a troublesome 6th in which he allowed two runners to cross home plate resulted in the Thunder tying the game at 3. Roberts’ ERA goes down a nod to 5.53 while keeping his record at 2-1 thanks to today’s no-decision.

Akron’s bullpen was also superb, throwing 11 innings of scoreless ball after Roberts was pulled from the game. Jacob Lee took home the loss.

Offensively for the Thunder, Jake Cave went 2-for-7, including a lead-off homer in the first. Judge went 3-for-7, including a single that led things off in the 18th for the Thunder. He ended up scoring the game-tying run, batted in by Eric Jagielo, who went 2-for-7. Gary Sanchez, albeit bringing in the game-winning run, went 0-for-7 and caught all 18 innings of the game, earning him the day off today, according to manager Pedrique.

The RubberDucks and the Thunder face off again tonight in the second game of the series. Cody Anderson will step on the mound for Akron while Miguel Sulbaran does the same for the home team.

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