(Trenton, NJ) - Slade Heathcott homered, doubled and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning to complete a late comeback for the Trenton Thunder, who outlasted the Akron Aeros, 3-2, Saturday night in the team's longest game of the season before of 5,530 fans at ARM & HAMMER Park.
Four Trenton relievers combined to hold Akron without a run for the final 10.2 innings of the contest and Heathcott scored all three runs in the come-from-behind win. The Thunder (62-57) moved 5.0 games ahead of third-place Portland, New Hampshire and New Britain for the wild card spot in the Eastern Division.
Heathcott led off the 13th with an opposite field double to left against reliever Trey Haley (1-2). The next batter Gary Sanchez lined a ball back to Haley, who knocked it down and looked Heathcott back to second.
Haley then threw wildly to first, and the ball sailed into the first-base camera well. The umpires awarded each runner two bases, and Heathcott came home with the game-winning run on Haley's error.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Trenton was down to its final out when Saxon Butler walked with the bases loaded against Aeros closer Jose Flores to force the game into extra innings. It was one of three ninth-inning walks for Flores, who blew only his second save in 14 chances this season.
Akron starter Toru Murata shutout the Thunder through six innings on just two hits and the Aeros held a 2-0 lead. Heathcott struck for a solo home run (8) however to lead off the seventh and put Trenton on the scoreboard.
Graham Stoneburner (2.2 innings pitched), Aaron Dott (2.2 innings), Zach Nuding (3.1 innings) and Danny Burawa (2.0 innings) each shutout Akron after the starter Fred Lewis allowed two runs in the top of the third. Burawa (6-3) won an extra-inning game for the second time in three days.
Akron left 15 runners on base in the 4 hour, 18 minutes marathon, including 11 in the first six innings of the contest. The Aeros out-hit Trenton 14-to-9 paced by four from leadoff batter Jose Ramirez and three from catcher Alex Monsalve.
The Thunder will try for a three-game sweep of Akron Sunday with the series finale scheduled for a 5:05 pm first pitch. Left-hander Nik Turley (8-6, 3.89) expected to starter against lefty Matt Packer, the league-leader in wins (10-7, 3.29).
Limited tickets are available through the Thunder box office at (609) 394-3300 or online at www.trentonthunder.com. Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 4:45 pm.