AKRON, OH --- Infielder Mandy Alvarez stole the show with a seventh inning to remember and Thunder pitching held the RubberDucks to just two hits in a 2-1 win on Friday night at Canal Park.
Trailing by a run, Alvarez started a rally for the Thunder with two outs in the seventh. Alvarez singled to center and found himself on third base after a pair of walks from Akron's Matt Whitehouse. With a 3-2 pitch ready to be thrown home, Alvarez scampered down the third base line and dove in headfirst to plate Trenton's first run of the night. The steal of home swung momentum into the Thunder's favor and helped them to victory.
Alvarez again put his imprint on the game in the next half inning, turning in a pair of excellent plays in the field. With a runner on first and lefty Caleb Frare on the mound, Alvarez made a sensational sliding catch in foul ground for the first out of the inning. After a fielders choice resulted in the second out, Alvarez was tested again with a line drive shot off the bat of Sicnarf Loopstock went off his glove into foul ground down the left field line. Alvarez recovered the ball and fired to Vince Conde to get Akron's Joe Sever, who was attempting to advance to third on the play, for the final out of the inning.
The Thunder offense awoke in the top of the eighth. Gosuke Katoh singled to center and Chris Gittens quickly doubled him in with a line drive shot to right-center.
With a 2-1 advantage in hand, Frare and Joe Harvey combined to strike out the final five batters of the game and finish off a victory to even the Thunder's record to 4-4 on the season.
Justus Sheffield made his second start of the season and struck out nine batters across 5.2 innings. Sheffield allowed just one hit, a solo home run to Joe Sever to leadoff the fifth inning, walked two and hit one batter. After struggling with his command in his first start of the season, the left-hander threw 60 strikes out of 96 total tosses in the game. Friday was the second time in Sheffield's Thunder career that he struck out nine batters.
Ben Ruta recorded a hit in his third straight game on Friday night and Gosuke Katoh extended his on-base streak to eight games with his eighth inning single.
Your Thunder continue their series with Ducks on Saturday afternoon at 2:05pm. RHP Dillon Tate (1-0, 1.50) will start for the Thunder, LHP Sean Brady (0-1, 6.23) will go for Akron. Pre-game coverage begins at 1:50pm 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.