September 14, 2012 - Eastern League (EL) - Akron RubberDucks
Trenton, NJ - Trenton's Zoilo Almonte went 2-5 with five RBI's, including his second three-run homer of the series, as the Thunder out-slugged the Akron Aeros, 11-7, in game three of the EL Championship Series on Friday night at Waterfront Park.
The Thunder (4-3) staved off elimination and prevented a series sweep by the Aeros (5-3). Game four will be played on Saturday night at 7:05. A single win still secures the league championship for the Aeros, who lead the best-of-five series, two games to one.
Almonte, a 23-year-old right fielder who is a member of the Yankees' 40-man roster, cranked a three-run shot in the first inning off Akron and Tribe righthander Carlos Carrasco. Almonte, who also blasted a three-run homer Wednesday night at Canal Park, helped the Thunder build a 4-1 lead after one inning.
Akron stormed back and took a 7-4 lead. Adam Abraham stroked a solo homer to right in the second to make it 4-2. Three more came across against Trenton starter Mikey O'Brien in the third, highlighted by a two-run double from Jesus Aguilar. In the fifth, RBI's by Matt Lawson and Abraham made it 7-4.
That's when the proverbial carriage turned back into the pumpkin.
Carrasco finished his rehab outing and turned things over to T.J. House in the third inning. House (0-1) cruised through the third and fourth, and started the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts. A single, walk and hit batsman quickly loaded the bases for Almonte, who dumped a single into right field to score two more runs and give him five RBI's in the game. Addison Maruszak followed with a sharp double down the left field line to chase home two more and give the Thunder an 8-7 lead.
On a night when both teams combined on 24 hits, the turning point of the game came in the sixth when Trenton reliever Tommy Kahnle walked the bases loaded with no one out and the Thunder on top, 8-7.
Manager Tony Franklin brought on reliever Brandon Pinder, a righthander drafted just last summer by the Yankees. Pinder appeared in just one game during the regular season for Trenton, but has been an effective reliever in the playoffs. Pinder entered the game with bases loaded, and struck out Tyler Holt, induced a short pop-up to right by Chun Chen, and then fanned Aguilar on a high fastball to play the role of Niagara Falls on the Aeros fire.
The Aeros couldn't mount another threat against the Thunder bullpen. Pinder, David Aardsma, mark Montgomery and Ryan Pope combined for four scoreless innings.
Graham Stoneburner (1-0), the younger brother of the Aeros' Davis Stoneburner, earned the win in relief despite giving up two runs in three innings.
Chen had three hits for the Aeros, all singles.
The 11 runs scored by the Thunder is the most runs scored in a single game against the Aeros all season.
The Aeros will try and clinch the title on Saturday evening at 7:05. RHP Toru Murata (0-0, 1.50) will start for Akron against Trenton LHP Nik Turley (1-0, 5.40). Saturday's Aeros game will be broadcast on WHLO 640 AM and online at www.640whlo.com. For more information, please call the Aeros at 330-253-5151.