It was just a fielder's choice ground ball, but it was good enough to move the Thunder one step closer to their ultimate goal.
Ben Gamel went 3-for-4 with an RBI, No. 18 Yankees prospect Bryan Mitchell pitched into the sixth inning and Ali Castillo knocked home the winning run in the seventh to help Double-A Trenton hold off Harrisburg, 5-4, and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Eastern League Championship Series on Wednesday night.
"We picked up a ton of momentum, not that we didn't have any to begin with, but it was definitely huge," Gamel said. "[At] 1-1, it could go either way -- it still can -- but the way we play with each other, it'll be tough to beat us three times in a row."
Trenton took the lead for good in the seventh after Gamel singled to load the bases and Reegie Corona lined an RBI single to left field to tie the game. Casey Stevenson came home with the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice grounder to second base by Castillo before the Thunder bullpen pieced together the final 11 outs to seal the victory.
"We're just feeding off each other," Gamel said. "We're getting good pitches to hit. We're being patient at the plate, finding pitches and not missing them. We were able to string together some good at-bats."
Mitchell, who made only three starts at Trenton after his promotion from Class A Advanced Tampa, worked around seven walks, throwing 48 of his 91 pitches for strikes while opposing No. 3 Nationals prospect A.J. Cole. He allowed four runs -- three earned -- on three hits while striking out two over 5 1/3 frames before Francisco Rondon, Danny Burawa and Tommy Kahnle closed out the game.
Gamel praised the bullpen for picking up the starter and keeping the lead intact.
"Our bullpen was awesome tonight, they slammed the door on them," he said. "Our bats kept us afloat as well as our bullpen. Everyone had good at-bats, we've been swinging well and the bullpen shut them down."
Gamel singled in the second, fourth and seventh innings, plating a run on a fielder's choice grounder in the fifth. The Yankees' 10th-round pick in 2010 hit .267 with four homers, 54 RBIs and 22 steals in 112 games at two levels this season.
Cole held Trenton to an unearned run on seven hits and a walk over four innings, striking out one on 87 pitches. Richie Mirowski (1-1) suffered a blown save and his first loss after allowing two runs on two hits and a pair of walks in 1 1/3 frames. Combined, the teams went 5-for-25 with runners in scoring position, stranding 19 runners.
Jerad Head went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Jeff Howell and Steve Souza knocked in a run apiece for Harrisburg, which will send No. 5 Nationals prospect Nathan Karns to the mound in Game 3 opposite Trenton right-hander Shane Greene.
The Thunder, who handed out American flags to fans at Arm & Hammer Park on the 12th anniversay of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, can notch their third championship in seven years with a win in Game 3 at Harrisburg on Thursday. The Senators are seeking their first crown since winning four straight from 1996-'99.
"I feel like we have all the confidence in the world as a team," Gamel said. "Everyone believes in each other and has a lot of heart."