TRENTON – The Trenton Thunder put on quite the show for the 6,496 in attendance at ARM & HAMMER Park on Thursday night, defeating the Erie SeaWolves 5-3 behind a strong pitching performance from starting pitcher Joel De La Cruz.
De La Cruz (W, 2-1) turned in a solid performance on the mound in his third start of the season. He tossed 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, permitting just six hits without allowing a walk and striking out three Erie batters before turning the game over to the bullpen. De La Cruz also recorded ten of his outs by ground balls, which pleased Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
“When he’s getting grounders, he’s on,” Franklin noted. “He attacks the zone. He’ll throw to contact. That’s his game.”
Trenton drew first blood, scoring three runs in the fourth inning. After Kyle Roller and Rob Refsnyder moved to second and third on a wild pitch, they were brought home when Taylor Dugas lined a triple into the right field corner. Dugas would score two batters later on a Dan Fiorito double into left-center field.
The Thunder would strike again one inning later, padding their lead when Roller launched his third home run of the season over the right field fence, scoring Gary Sanchez and putting Trenton up by five. Roller, who was playing in just his fifth game of the season, already leads the Thunder in home runs.
Erie got three runs back after Trenton reliever Aaron Dott fell apart in the seventh inning. Dott walked the three of the first four batters he faced, working around a strikeout of Corey Jones. He was pulled in favor of Jairo Heredia, who promptly allowed a two-run single to Jason Krizan. One more run would come in to score when Eugenio Suarez popped into a fielder’s choice before Heredia got out of the inning.
Despite their seventh inning struggles, the back end of the Thunder bullpen got the job done on Thursday, thanks to two perfect frames in the eighth and ninth from Branden Pinder and Diego Moreno. For Moreno, it was his third save in four tries this season.
Trenton and Erie are back at it again on Friday night, when they will play the second game of a three-game series. The Thunder will be sending left-handed pitcher Matt Tracy (2–0, 2.38 ERA) to the mound, going up against SeaWolves lefty Kyle Ryan (1-1, 2.61 ERA). First pitch from ARM & HAMMER Park will be 7:05 PM.