TRENTON, NJ - Down to their final strike in both the 11th and 12th innings with two outs and the bases empty, the Trenton Thunder mounted two comebacks to win Wednesday night's ballgame 9-8 over the New Britain Rock Cats in 12 innings.
The Thunder used early offense from Kyle Roller (three-run homer) and Ramon Flores (two-run triple) to create an early 5-2 lead. The Thunder took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning, but the Rock Cats scored twice to tie it off reliever Danny Burawa stemming largely from two errors in the inning.
The game headed to extra innings tied 5-5 and would remain tied into the 11th inning when New Britain scored twice to make it 7-5. Then with two outs in the bottom of the inning with the Thunder needing a pair of runs to tie it, they used four consecutive singles to plate a pair.
Charley Short pitched the 11th inning and came back on in the top of the 12th only to allow another run to put the Rock Cats in front once again, 8-7. The Thunder batted again in extra innings needing at least a run to tie, but the bottom of the 12th began with Reegie Corona and Mason Williams being retired easily. Then Ramon Flores singled and Jose Pirela chopped a grounder over the mound for an infield single himself.
That brought Trenton's 20-year old catcher Gary Sanchez to the plate with the tying run at second base and the potential winning run at first. Sanchez singled sharply to New Britain left fielder Daniel Ortiz whose throw to the plate was intended to get Ramon Flores before he could score the game-tying run, but instead wound up hitting nearly halfway up the backstop. As the ball got to the backstop, Jose Pirela- who had not broken stride from first base when the play began- kept sprinting to the plate. New Britain catcher Kyle Knudson flipped to pitcher Matt Hauser who was covering the plate, but Hauser couldn't handle the throw and Pirela scored the game-winning run in walk-off fashion.
With the win and a win by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats over the Portland Sea Dogs, Trenton's lead in the East Division Wild Card remains 4.0 games over the Fisher Cats but is now only 5.0 over the Sea Dogs with 6 games remaining in the regular season.
Trenton and the New Britain Rock Cats battle at ARM & HAMMER Park in final game of their four-game series- and final home game of the regular season- Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Trenton sends RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-0, 3.18) to the mound against RHP Alex Meyer (4-3, 3.41) for the Rock Cats. 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.