TRENTON, NJ - Two runs in the top of the 9th inning for the Portland Sea Dogs broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Sea Dogs a 4-2 win Saturday night at ARM & HAMMER Park.
After the Trenton Thunder bullpen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 8th inning, Tommy Kahnle entered the game in the 9th for Zach Nuding. Kahnle recorded outs to two of the first three batters he faced, but walked Shannon Wilkerson and Deven Marrero consecutively to load the bases. No runs had scored at that point, and Kahnle could have gotten out of the inning unscathed with one more out, but lefty Garin Cecchini slapped a single to left field to score a pair of runs.
The game became tied late when Gary Sanchez connected on his first Double-A homerun in the bottom of the 7th inning for the Thunder. On a 2-1 pitch with the Thunder trailing 2-1 in the game, the 20-year old catcher turned on a breaking ball from Portland starter Keith Couch and deposited it out over the four levels of billboards in right field. Sanchez, who had 13 homers for Tampa at the time of his promotion, finished the game 1-for-4.
The Thunder sent the middle of the lineup to the plate against Eric Niesen in the bottom of the 9th inning, but Niesen struck out Jose Pirela and Sanchez for the first two outs of the inning. Kyle Roller then singled to left-field to bring the tying run to the plate in Carmen Angelini, but Angelini grounded into a fielder's choice to end the ballgame.
Thunder starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell started his second career Double-A game, and first Double-A game at home. He was charged with two runs over 6.1 innings in which he struck out three batters, walked two and allowed six hits. He was given his second no-decision in as many starts and lowered his ERA to 3.18.
With the loss and a double-header split by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Reading, Trenton's lead in the East Division Wild Card is 3.0 games over the Fisher Cats and 4.0 over the Sea Dogs with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
The Thunder complete their four-game series and continue their eight-game home stand against the Portland Sea Dogs Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Trenton sends RHP Mikey O'Brien (7-7, 4.20) to the mound against LHP Chris Hernandez (1-0, 2.25) for the Sea Dogs. Limited tickets available at www.trentonthunder.com/tickets or by calling (609)394-3300. Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and streaming online begins at 6:45 p.m.