Murphy, Maruszak seal spot for Trenton

Pair of home runs spur Thunder to 5-4 series-clinching victory

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | September 9, 2012 7:56 PM ET

Double-A Trenton lost the first game of their first-round Eastern League playoff series. But they they figured out what went wrong and righted the ship.

The Thunder, led by JR Murphy's two-run homer in the fourth and Addison Maruszak's solo shot in the sixth, beat the Reading Phillies on Saturday, 5-4, to polish off the best-of-5 series with their third win in a row.

Murphy scored twice in the game and Maruszak went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

"[My home run] was a good way to jump out to a lead, but it was still early and there was still a lot of game left," said Murphy. "We jumped to that lead and they got back in the game right away and Maruszak came up big with a home run that kind of sealed it.

"It was never really put away, they just kept chipping away, but we came out with the win."

After the Phillies had pulled back to within one by the sixth, Maruzsak went yard and made it 5-3.

Murphy, a catcher, was promoted to the Eastern League midway through the season after hitting .257 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 67 games for Class A Advanced Tampa. In 43 games with the Thunder, he batted .231 and slugged .408, hitting 12 doubles and four home runs.

Trenton dropped the first game of the series, 4-2, but then rode strong efforts from Shaeffer Hall in Game 2 and Mikey O'Brien in Game 3 to a substantial lead.

Maruszak was particularly instrumental in the three wins, going 5-for-11 with two home runs and three RBIs during those games.

Murphy was 2-for-10 with a walk in the series before breaking out with his big hit off Reading starter Adam Morgan.

"I've never won a ring before, so it's been a pretty cool run, and it's been fun for me to be a part of it," he noted. "We feel pretty confident going in [to the Championship Series] and we're excited."

Nik Turley, who had made only one start for the Thunder during the regular season after a callup from the Florida State League, scattered three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two over five innings to pick up the series-deciding win.

The left-hander had gone 9-5 with a 2.89 ERA in Tampa before advancing to Double-A.

On Sunday, No. 3 Yankees prospect Tyler Austin doubled and five relievers combined for a run on seven hits without any walks and two strikeouts over four innings to close out the victory.

Trenton will meet Akron in the first game of the best-of-5 championship series Tuesday.

In other Eastern League action:
Akron 5, Bowie 2

The Aeros completed their rally after starting the series out down, 0-2, to advance to meet Trenton in the Eastern League Finals.

Adam Abraham provided most of the offensive heavy lifting, going 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs, with Chun-Hsiu Chen driving in another pair of runs.

"It's a pretty uphill battle, but coming home, where we played well all year, we knew we had a chance," Abraham said of the team's comeback. "Once we got it to 2-2, we were excited to get that chance to get to the Championship Series. Everyone knew what needed to be done and we just went out and took care of business." Gameday box score

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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