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Austin Jackson may not have contributed to Trenton's regular-season success, but he's delivering in the playoffs.
The 20-year-old center fielder hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning and drove in three runs as the Thunder edged visiting Akron, 5-3, in Game 1 of the Eastern League Finals on Tuesday.
With one out and the game tied, 2-2, Marcos Vechionacci sparked the seventh-inning rally with an infield single and Gabriel Lopez followed with a base hit to left field. After Reegie Corona struck out and sidearmer Randy Newsom replaced fellow reliever Ryan Edell, Jackson ripped the decisive base hit to right field.
Rich Rundles came on to face Colin Curtis, who capped the inning with a two-run double over the head of left fielder Ryan Goleski.
Jackson, who played one game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season and the rest for Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa, put the Thunder (1-0) on the board with a two-out, two-run bloop single in the third. The Denton, Texas, native is hitting .304 with five RBIs in five postseason games.
Thunder starter Tyler Clippard was effectively wild, yielding two runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts over five innings. Steven Jackson (1-0) notched the win after allowing a run on two hits, fanning three without a walk in three frames.
Justin Pope gave up a two-out single to Argenis Reyes in the ninth, but struck out Trevor Crowe to notch his second save and seal Trenton's first Eastern League Finals win since joining the circuit 14 years ago.
Edell (0-1) surrendered two runs on two hits, striking out three without a walk in 1 2/3 innings. Aeros starter Adam Miller allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits with five strikeouts in four frames.
Akron (0-1) opened the scoring on Ryan Goleski's RBI single in the first. Michael Aubrey laced a game-tying base hit in the fifth before Jordan Brown homered to open the eighth. Brown, the league's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, is batting .435 with two home runs and five RBIs in five postseason games.
The series stays in Trenton for Game 2 on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. ET.
Ryan McConnell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.