HARRISBURG, PA – A five-run third inning made the difference on Thursday night, as the Trenton Thunder defeated the Harrisburg Senators 11-4 to sweep the Eastern League Championship Series and earn the franchise’s third title.
A nine-game winning streak that carried through the playoffs helped Tony Franklin’s Thunder become the first Eastern League team to sweep both the divisional and championship rounds of the postseason since Albany-Colonial did so in 1991. The victory also marks Franklin’s third Eastern League Championship in his seven year tenure with the Thunder.
“It never gets old,” said Franklin. “I can’t believe we (swept the series).”
Trenton was able to bat around in the third, sending eleven men to the plate and knocked Harrisburg starter Nathan Karns out of the game. The rally began in that inning when Jose Pirela was hit by a Karns pitch with two outs and a man on first base. He was the first of seven straight batters to reach base as the Thunder turned a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.
The bats continued exploding even after that inning. Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel had three hits each, while Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, and Tyler Austin had two hits apiece.
Shane Greene helped out on the mound, tossing 5 1/3 innings while earning the victory. He allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits and a walk while striking out six. Pat Venditte and Zach Nuding held the Senators scoreless in relief, though Branden Pinder did allow an unearned run in the ninth inning.
“It was a little bit of a battle. I didn’t really have any easy innings,” said Greene. “When we put those five runs up, I knew it was my game to win or lose.”