O'Brien puts Thunder on the brink

Righty allows one run to move Trenton within win of EL Finals

Mikey O'Brien struck out 90 batters over 107 Eastern League innings (Rudy C. Jones/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | September 5, 2013 7:10 PM ET

The Trenton Thunder rallied late Wednesday night to come from behind and take the opening game in their Eastern League playoff series. A day later, Mikey O'Brien took that momentum and parlayed it into another victory.

The 23-year-old right-hander allowed one run on two hits over six innings as the Double-A Thunder beat the visiting Binghamton Mets, 2-1, to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the best-of-5 semifinals.

"It was huge for me and for our team," said O'Brien, who issued five walks, struck out four batters, uncorked one wild pitch and hit one batter. "To get to the championship would be huge, even getting to the playoffs, only four teams get to do that. We've been playing really good baseball all season and this is what we play for.

"We have been [fighting] all season and we are trying to focus on [Friday] night and focus on one game at a time."

The series now moves to Binghamton, where the Mets need to sweep the remaining three games to advance to the Championship Series.

"I would say, stuff-wise, it probably wasn't my best, but it is probably one of my best overall because of the spot we're in and the situation we're in against the top team in our division," said O'Brien, who went 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 27 games between two levels this year.

"It was huge for our team right now. Last night we had a huge comeback, getting five straight hits with two outs and I tried to carry over that momentum for us."

Trenton shortstop and No. 9 hitter Ali Castillo snapped a 1-1 tie with what proved to be the winning run when he plated center fielder Mason Williams with a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Zach Nuding (1-0) struck out two batters over two perfect innings and Tommy Kahnle worked around a ninth-inning walk to seal the victory.

Binghamton's Darin Gorski (0-1) yielded two runs on seven hits while striking out five batters over seven innings.

In other action:
Erie 2, Harrisburg 1 (12 innings)

The SeaWolves tied the best-of-5 semifinals with an extra-inning victory in Game 2.

Tyler Collins reached base four times, starting pitcher Warwick Saupold allowed one run on four hits over eight innings and Jamie Johnson scored the winning run on Sean Nicol's two-out throwing error to send the series back to Harrisburg all even.

The Senators' Brian Goodwin went 3-for-5 and starter Taylor Hill yielded an unearned run on five hits and two walks over six innings. Gameday box score »

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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