Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thunder drop Game 1 of ELCS

AKRON, Ohio – The Thunder dug themselves out of an early hole to win the Division Series, and they’ll have to do so again if they hope to win a third crown.
Brett Marshall was solid, but his offense was absent in a 3-0 loss to the Akron Aeros in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday at a mostly empty Canal Park.
Adonis Garcia opened with a single on the first pitch from Akron righty Paolo Espino, the last hit the Thunder got until David Adams led off the sixth with a double tucked just inside the third-base line.
That’s not to say the Thunder lacked scoring chances.
They loaded the bases in the fourth with one out on walks from Adams and J.R. Murphy and a hit by pitch against Addison Maruszak. That rally was snuffed when Espino froze Tyler Austin on a hammer curveball and induced an infield pop-up from Kevin Mahoney.
That’s when the momentum swung toward Akron’s dugout.
The Aeros got the first two runs off Marshall in the bottom of the frame. With runners on second and third, the right-hander uncorked a wild pitch and allowed a sacrifice fly to Matt Lawson.
They also had a budding rally with Adams at third with one out in the sixth, but Maruszak and Murphy grounded out to kill the threat.
The futility against Espino was especially surprising given the success the Thunder had against him in the regular season. In 10 2/3 innings against him, Trenton struck for 10 hits, seven earned runs and two victories. On Tuesday, he limited the Thunder to two hits over seven shutout frames.
On the other side, Marshall held the Aeros to the three runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked none before being lifted in the seventh for Tommy Kahnle. With the six frames, Marshall escalated his career-high innings pitched to 171 1/3, 31 more than his previous peak.
David Aardsma made his third relief with Trenton on Tuesday, and it didn’t go terribly well. The righty, working his way back from Tommy John surgery loaded the bases before recording an out in the eighth but recovered with a strikeout and a double play to extricate himself from a huge jam unscathed.
Shawn Armstrong and Eastern League Reliever of the Year Preston Guilmet pitched the eighth and ninth to finish the shutout.
With the opening loss, Trenton will once again turn to Shaeffer Hall to even the series headed back to Trenton. The lefty spun 5 2/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief of Aardsma last Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
If he can even it again, the Thunder will be no worse for wear heading home. If not, the road to the trophy becomes nearly impassable.


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