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Williams, Thunder come from behind for first win of season

Mason Williams (9) celebrates after his walk-off single gave the Thunder their first win of the season.
Mason Williams (9) celebrates after his walk-off single gave the Thunder their first win of the season.Trenton Thunder/Facebook.com

TRENTON, N.J. – The Trenton Thunder got their first win of the season in walk-off fashion, as Mason Williams’ ninth-inning single lifted the defending champions over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 6-5 on Saturday evening.

What started off as a pitching duel between Zach Nuding and Austin Bibens-Dirkx quickly developed into a wild finish that included a four-run eighth inning for the Thunder.

Nuding looked dominant early in the game, throwing 95 pitches over 6 2/3 innings for the Thunder. "Big Nude" allowed five hits and walked three while striking out seven hitters. He allowed three runs, though only two were earned.

“I felt pretty good today,” Nuding told reporters after the win. “They were attacking early, and luckily that helped me, because we got outs out of ground balls and pop flies.”

“I was cruising a little bit, due to some of their approach of swing early, and it allowed me to get not nearly as deep into my pitch count early in the game,” Nuding added.

Trenton got on the board first when Mason Williams scored on a sacrifice fly by Rob Segedin in the first inning. Williams had led off for the Thunder with an opposite field double, then took third base on a wild pitch by Bibens-Dirkx.

Nuding appeared to wear down as the game went on, allowing the tying run in the sixth inning before surrendering a pair in the seventh. However, Nuding indicated he felt good throughout and expected to throw 85-90 pitches before being pulled for Pat Venditte.

“I felt pretty much the same the whole way through,” Nuding said. “I was getting tired a little bit at the very end of the last inning I was out there. Other than that, I didn’t feel fatigued at all. I felt the same as when I went out in the first.”

The eighth inning marked the turning point for the Thunder, as they recaptured the magic that they saw so often in their championship run last season. The Thunder loaded the bases with no one out and a pair of wild pitches from Randy Boone scored two and brought the tying run to third base. Rob Segedin then completed the comeback, lacing a line drive single into center field, scoring Mason Williams. Segedin came around to score from first on Gary Sanchez’s double, giving the Thunder a 5-4 lead.

That lead quickly evaporated, as Diego Moreno gave up a leadoff triple in the ninth inning, then watch as a sacrifice fly sailed to left field, re-tying the game at five.

In the ninth inning, the Thunder picked up right where they left off. After a strikeout to start the inning, Yetal Sanchez worked a walk, then advanced to second base when Taylor Dugas reached on an error. Two batters later, Mason Williams came through for the Thunder, ripping the game-winning single that scored Sanchez into right field.

“I got behind in the count early,” Williams noted. “But I still had to battle I still had to see a good pitch and put a pretty good swing on a pitch.”

Trenton and New Hampshire square off in the final game of the season-opening four-game series during a Sunday matinee where both starting pitchers will be making their Double-A debuts. Joel De La Cruz will be on the hill for the Thunder, while Scott Copeland gets the ball for the Fisher Cats. First pitch from ARM & HAMMER Park will be at 1:05 PM.

Dan is Examiner.com’s beat writer for the New York Yankees and the Trenton Thunder. Follow him on Twitter at @danpfeiffer74 for all the latest New York Yankees news.