The Harrisburg Senators allowed just eight runs over four games in their semifinal triumph over the Erie SeaWolves. The Trenton Thunder plated that many in the first seven frames Tuesday night.
No. 2 Yankees prospect Mason Williams plated three runs and starting pitcher Nik Turley struck out a career-high 10 batters over six two-run innings on the eve of his 24th birthday as the Double-A Thunder beat the Senators, 8-2, in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Eastern League Championship Series.
Left-hander Turley allowed a run in the second and third frames, the first on Jerad Head's one-out sacrifice fly and the other on a wild pitch to Justin Bloxom.
But Williams' bases-loaded two-RBI single sparked a five-run third frame, and the Thunder never looked back. Williams added a sacrifice fly as Trenton tacked on two more runs in the fourth and then padded its lead with another insurance run in the seventh.
Williams, 22, spent all but 17 of his 117 games with the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League, where he batted .261.
In 72 at-bats with the Thunder, Williams -- selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft -- hit .153 with a homer and four RBIs.
"Pressing is a good word for what I was doing,'' MLB.com's No. 37 prospect told The Times of Trenton. "I've just been trying to slow the game down. This is huge, getting Game 1. I just want to put good swings on the ball and help the team however I can.''
Despite a steep learning curve upon his promotion to the Eastern League, Williams is embracing the challenges that come with postseason baseball.
The offense proved more than enough for La Canada, Calif., native Turley, who went 11-8 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 games -- including 26 starts -- with the Thunder this season.
The No. 17 Yankees prospect threw 64 of 100 pitches for strikes. He fanned one batter in the first and two in the second, third and fifth frames. He struck out the side in the sixth around a hit batsman and a wild pitch to complete his night.
Zach Nuding allowed one hit over two innings of relief and Branden Pinder struck out two batters in a perfect ninth to seal the victory.
"This is great for the guys simply because if you're going to vie for a World Series championship someday you have to learn and this is a pretty good proving ground,'' manager Tony Franklin told The Times. "So in that way, I feel good about us being in as many postseasons as we have.''
Blake Treinen (0-1) surrendered five runs on four hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings for Harrisburg.
Game 2 of the Finals takes place in Trenton on Wednesday. Right-hander Bryan Mitchell is scheduled to start for the Thunder against Washington's No. 3 prospect A.J. Cole. The series moves to Harrisburg on Thursday.