Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thunder lose, but close in on division

For The Trentonian
TRENTON -- It was nearly as good as a win.
Sure, Trenton suffered a relatively non-descript 3-1 loss at the hands of the New Britain Rock Cats on Wednesday night, but Reading's loss to the Binghamton Mets clipped the Thunder's magic number to win the Eastern Division to just two.
On the heels of clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday night, the Thunder mustered just one run against Rock Cats pitching, and none against starter Logan Darnell, who held Trenton to just two walks and three hits through six innings.
The Thunder had their best chance to win in the seventh, when New Britain reliever David Bromberg loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to a Rob Segedin single and back-to-back walks issued to Shane Brown and Walter Ibarra, respectively.
Adonis Garcia's run-scoring single put one run across the board, but it's all Trenton would get, as Bromberg bore down to retire the Thunder's 2-3-4 hitters in order. J.R. Murphy grounded out, and Bromberg struck out both David Adams and Zoilo Almonte to end the threat and, for all intents and purposes, Trenton's chance at a win.
"We missed an opportunity there," said Thunder manager Tony Franklin. "We didn't get a lot from Darnell, he pitched a pretty good game. We had an opportunity there, it just kind of went by the wayside for us."
Trenton starting pitcher Mikey O'Brien also turned in a solid outing, but it wasn't enough. He limited New Britain to just two runs on nine hits through six innings of work, good for his second straight quality outing. But, unlike his effort in Akron, it wasn't good enough for a win.
Back-to-back fourth inning doubles by 2009 Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni and Deibinson Romero put the Rock Cats on the board early, and Estarlin De Los Santos' RBI groundout doubled their advantage to two. New Britain pushed across their insurance run off of Trenton reliever Francisco Rondon, who allowed a leadoff triple to highly touted Twins prospect Aaron Hicks, who then scored after Rondon uncorked a wild pitch to the next batter.
With just five games remaining in the regular season and a playoff spot clinched, a division title is still important to both the players and Franklin, and losing still isn't taken lightly.
"We're still trying to win a division," he said. "I made it pretty clear to them, but I'm pretty sure that they know that. It doesn't make any sense to celebrate anything. We haven't accomplished a whole lot except for we're in the playoffs, which is a good thing. But we'd like to finish on a pretty good note, and that would be to win the division."
There was no letdown, no taking their collective feet off the gas pedal now that they'll be playing deep into September. According to Franklin, he wasn't expecting that to be the case anyway.
"My fondest hope was that we were going to come out and play just as well, I expected that," he said.
"We came out today and put our work in, and I expected a pretty solid game. It just didn't materialize today, but we'll look for better things tomorrow."


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