ALTOONA, PA --- The Thunder split a doubleheader at Peoples Natural Gas Field on Saturday night, dropping the opener, 3-2, and taking the finale, 4-0.
With the split, Trenton's magic number to clinch a playoff position stands at eight; pending the results of Reading's doubleheader in Richmond.
In game one of the doubleheader, top prospect pitchers Dillon Tate and Mitch Keller faced off. Tate surrendered two runs in the bottom of the first when Anderson Feliz drove in Cole Tucker with a fielder's choice and Jerrick Suiter scored Feliz with a single.
Tate settled in after his first frame, allowing just two hits and one walk during his next five innings pitched. The Thunder offense rallied to tie the game in the sixth after being held off the board early. With Jeff Hendrix on first and two out, Mike Ford hit a ground-ruled double over the wall in right-center to put runners on second and third with two out. Then on an 0-2 pitch, Ryan McBroom poked a single through the right side of the infield to tie the game at two.
With a low pitch count and a 2-2 score, Tate returned to the mound in the seventh and surrendered a lead-off triple to Wyatt Mathisen. After back-to-back intentional walks loaded the bases, Elvis Escobar singled off the wall in right for a walk-off 3-2 win.
In the second game of the twin bill, Trenton's offense was led by Francisco Diaz and Abiatal Avelino. In the third inning, Diaz and Avelino each singled and Jeff Hendrix bunted them into scoring position. Thairo Estrada drove in the first run with a single and after a pop out by Ryan McBroom, Mike Ford reached on a fielder's choice to score a second run.
In the fourth, Diaz doubled into the left-field corner to extend the inning after a pair of strikeouts started the inning. Avelino then hit a two-run home run into the seats in left to make it 4-0 Thunder.
Jose Mesa Jr. started the second game of the doubleheader and went 4.1 innings, allowing two hits and three walks. James Reeves finished the victory with 2.2 innings of scoreless ball.
The shutout win was the 17th of the season, two shy of matching the franchise record of 19.
Your Thunder continue go for the series win on Sunday night at 6pm against the Curve. LHP Daniel Camarena (1-1, 3.81) will start for the Thunder, RHP Casey Sadler (1-2, 3.95) will go for Altoona. Pre-game coverage will begin at 5:45pm on 920 AM The Jersey and online at www.trentonthunder.com/broadcast.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.