(New Britain, CT) - After being shutout for 6.2 innings, the Trenton offense exploded for ten runs over the final 2.1 innings of the contest and the Thunder snapped a four-game skid with a 10-3 win over the New Britain Rock Cats Monday night at New Britain Stadium.
With the win, coupled with a New Hampshire loss at Portland, the Thunder's (66-61) lead for the Eastern Division Wild Card spot increased to 3.5 games over the third-place Fisher Cats (62-64) with 15 games remaining in the regular season. Portland (61-66) remained 5.0 games back in fourth.
Jose Pirela went 5-for-5 with a sacrifice fly and four RBI to pace Trenton's 16-hit attack. It was the first five-hit game of the season for any member of the Thunder. The second-baseman is now 17-for-36 (.472) over his last eight games played.
With New Britain leading 2-0 in the seventh, Trenton put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs and the Rock Cats brought in reliever Dan Turpen (1-1) to face Gary Sanchez. Sanchez walked on four pitches to load the bases.
The next batter was Kyle Roller, who hit a ground ball that glanced off the glove of the first-baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez, scoring Yeral Sanchez from third and opening the door for a big rally. Pirela followed with a two-run hit to right to put the Thunder in front, and Carmen Angelini later grounded an RBI single to make it 4-2.
Trenton scored two more in the eighth against Turpen on a wild pitch and Pirela's fifth hit of the night. The Thunder then scored four more times in the ninth against lefty Jose Gonzalez spurred by five singles. Trenton was credited with 16 hits on the night.
Diego Moreno (1-0) retired all six batters he faced in relief of starter Bryan Mitchell to earn the win. Mitchell, making his EL debut, allowed two runs on four hits in five innings. Reliever Manny Barreda, also making his first Thunder appearance, finished the win by allowing one run over the final two innings.
Game two of the series is slated for a 7:05 pm first pitch on Tuesday night. Thunder right-hander Mikey O'Brien (7-6, 3.86) will pitch against right-hander Trevor May (7-9, 4.75). Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 6:50 pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.