Akron continued its postseason resurgence Wednesday night and pushed Trenton to the brink of elimination in the Eastern League Finals.
Danny Salazar struck out nine over six innings to protect an early lead as the Aeros reeled off their fifth straight win, a 7-5 triumph over the Thunder that opened a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Championship Series.
"It's always nice to win the first two games of a series, but we still have to win the third game," Akron manager Chris Tremie said. "Regardless of being up 2-0 or down 2-0, you need to win three to win the series."
Akron hit for the collective cycle in a five-run third inning that opened a 7-1 lead. Tyler Holt singled with one out, Chun Chen walked and Matt Lawson delivered a two-out RBI double. Adam Abraham followed with a two-run triple and Ryan Rohlinger connected on his first postseason homer.
"When you get an early lead like that, it's always an advantage," Tremie said. "And we got some good starting pitching, too."
That starting pitching was provided by Salazar (1-0), who limited the Thunder to one run -- a solo homer by Yankees' No. 3 prospect Tyler Austin -- over the first five innings. Trenton finally got to the 22-year-old right-hander in the sixth, with Zoilo Almonte following a pair of singles with his first playoff homer.
The nine strikeouts were a season high for Salazar, who was charged with four runs on five hits over six frames.
After missing most of the previous two seasons following Tommy John surgery, the native of the Dominican Republic was promoted from Class A Advanced Carolina early last month. In six Double-A starts, he was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA. Wednesday marked only the second time he's allowed more than one run for Akron.
Trenton continued to claw back in the seventh against reliever Kyle Landis when Rob Segedin singled home J.R. Murphy. But Kevin Mahoney was thrown out at the plate on a play that led to the ejection of Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
Bryce Stowell came on and got Adonis Garcia to ground out on his only pitch of the night.
"Trenton's got a good ballclub, they battled back," Tremie said. "Landis ended up giving up a run in the seventh inning, but Stowell came in and threw one pitch and got a groundout to shortstop to get us out of that inning.
Hector Rondon worked a scoreless eighth and Preston Guilmet retired the side in order for his league-leading fourth playoff save.
"He's been doing it all year long," Tremie said of his closer. "He came in again and it was just a 1-2-3 ninth. It was a really outstanding outing."
Rohlinger and Abraham drove in two runs apiece for Akron, as did Jesus Aguilar, the Indians' No. 11 prospect, who homered in the first. Holt went 2-for-4, raising his postseason average to .375.
Starter Shaeffer Hall (0-1) lasted three innings for Trenton, surrendering seven runs on six hits.
The Aeros can wrap up its second championship in four years when the series resumes on Friday in Trenton.