HARRISBURG, PA - The Trenton Thunder used a five-run 3rd inning to beat the Harrisburg Senators 11-4 for the third Eastern League Championship in franchise history.
Trenton- who finished the season on a season-high nine-game winning streak and has not lost since August 30th- was the first Eastern League team to sweep both the divisional and championship rounds of the postseason since Albany-Colonial (Yankees affiliate) did it in 1991. The championship for the Thunder is the first since the team won the second of their back-to-back titles in 2008.
The Thunder notched 16 hits in the ballgame including four as part of the five-run inning. Trenton sent 11 batters to the plate in that inning which knocked Harrisburg starting pitcher Nathan Karns out of the ballgame. Karns, who finished the regular season with 155 strikeouts in just over 130 innings, lasted just 2.2 innings and was charged with five runs on four hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
In that 3rd inning, Trenton had two outs and a runner on first base with Jose Pirela batting. He had an 0-2 count against him before being plunked by Karns. That started a streak of seven straight batters to reach and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.
Trenton's offense was led by three-hit nights by Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel. Gamel finished the postseason by batting 8-for-15 (.533 AVG) with three walks (.611 OBP) in four games played. Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin each finished with two hits on the night and all nine starters recorded hits for Trenton.
Postseason MVP was Ali Castillo who played just 46 games for the Thunder in the regular season, but was instrumental in many key moments for Trenton. Castillo, who rejoined Trenton's roster after an injury to starting shortstop Carmen Angelini in the final series of the regular season, smacked his first homer as a member of the Thunder in the 5th inning to pad what was a 5-1 lead at the time for Trenton. He finished the postseason batting 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, a run scored and two RBI.
Shane Greene was the starting pitcher for the Thunder and tossed 5.1 innings for the victory. Down the stretch, Greene's final three starts were in the Wild Card-clinching game at Portland August 31st, Game 3 of the Eastern Division Championship Series at Binghamton and Thursday's title-clinching ballgame. He allowed two earned runs in 18.0 innings (1.00 ERA) and got the victory in each game.
The championship was the third for manager Tony Franklin in his seven seasons at the helm of the Thunder. It was also the third for Trenton third baseman Reegie Corona who was part of the 2007 and 2008 championship teams. The 26-year old had not appeared in an affiliated baseball game since 2010 due to an arm injury and finished with six hits in six postseason games.
The Trenton Thunder family wants to thank our fans for an incredible 2013 season, and we cannot wait for the 2014 season to begin at ARM & HAMMER Park next April.