A five-RBI performance by rehabbing Yankee Thairo Estrada helped spark a pair of early Thunder rallies on Friday night at ARM & HAMMER Park as the Thunder defeated the Reading Fightin Phils, 12-2, to sweep the Eastern League Division Series, three games to none.
The Thunder now head to the Eastern League Championship Series for the third time in four years and will play the winner of the Western Division series between Bowie and Harrisburg.
In the bottom of the first inning, Estrada hit a one-out single and took third on a Ben Ruta base hit. Fightins right-hander Adonis Medina (0-1) then delivered a low pickoff throw to first base, allowing Estrada to score the game's first run from third as the ball rolled away.
After Darick Hall tied the score for Reading with a solo homer off rehabbing Yankees right-hander Luis Severino to lead off the second inning, the Thunder rallied back ahead in the bottom half with a four-run frame. Five consecutive hits, including a two-run double by Estrada, chased Medina from the game after just an inning and one-third.
The Thunder then staged a five-run rally in the third off two Fightins relievers. With the bases loaded, Kyle Holder scored from third base on a third-strike wild pitch to Rashad Crawford, Estrada lined a rare three-run single off the glove of diving shortstop Nick Maton, and Ruta capped the romp with an RBI-single for a 10-1 Thunder lead.
The Fightin Phils used six different pitchers in the game, none of whom lasted more than two innings.
Severino, meanwhile, struck out five batters over three-plus innings, leaving after walking the leadoff man in the fourth. Matt Wivinis entered in relief and retired three Reading batters in a row to retire the side and turn the reins over to Yankees reliver Dellin Betances, also on rehab assignment. Betances pitched a scoreless fifth, stranding a pair of runners after a hit batter and a two-out walk.
Estrada's five RBI in the game matched Zoilo Almonte's franchise record for most RBI in a postseason game, set in 2013. Along with Estrada, four other Thunder players recorded multiple hits.
Albert Abreu, Brooks Kriske, and Daniel Alvarez combined for the final four innings of relief for the Thunder, with a Nick Maton RBI-single off Kriske in the eighth producing the final Reading run.
Your Thunder will open the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series against the Bowie-Harrisburg series winner on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at ARM & HAMMER Park. Pregame coverage begins at 6:40 p.m. on 920 AM The Jersey or online at TrentonThunder.com/Broadcast.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.