Baby Bombers 2013 Playoff Blog: Trenton sweeps Binghamton, advances to Eastern League Championship Series
For the second year in a row, the Trenton Thunder are headed to the Eastern League Championship Series.
The Thunder completed a sweep of the Binghamton Mets on Friday night, topping the B-Mets 3-0 to win their best-of-five Eastern Division Championship Series by the same tally and vanquish the team that led the Eastern League with 86 regular-season wins.
For the third straight night, it was a two-out rally that netted the Thunder the winning run, with Friday's coming in the top of the fifth inning off B-Mets starter Logan Verrett. The righty easily recorded the first two outs of the frame, but after Thursday night's hero Ali Castillo doubled and Ramon Flores walked, the rehabbing Zoilo Almonte drove in his second run of the series, singling home Castillo and advancing to second on the throw home.
Jose Pirela then hit a smash to shortstop Wilfredo Tovar, but a throwing error allowed Pirela to reach and Flores to score. That would be all that the Thunder needed, as starter Shane Greene (W, 1-0) and four relievers combined for the shutout to send Trenton back to the ELCS.
The B-Mets had their best chance to score against Greene (5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 5 K) in the sixth, but after he loaded the bases with two outs, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte came in to strike out Darrell Cecilliani to end the threat.
Trenton got an insurance run when Ramon Flores grounded into a double play with runners on first and third and no one out in the seventh, and the scheduled fireworks after the game were almost accompanied by some human ones in the bottom of the inning.
With two runners on, Tovar hit a grounder to short, but as Castillo and Pirela attempted to turn a 6-4-3 double play, Daniel Muno was called out - and a double play was ruled - because of slide interference; that sparked a debate and nearly fisiticuffs between Pirela and Muno, who were both ejected along with Tovar and B-Mets skipper Pedro Lopez.
Because of that, the runner on second, Xorge Carrillo, had to return, and that ended up being huge because he was unable to score on Josh Rodriguez's subsequent single.
Overall, the B-Mets got eight base runners in the final three frames against Branden Pinder (1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 K), Manny Barreda (0.0 IP, 2 BB) and Dan Burawa (1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K), but could not get on the board. Burawa nailed down the series-clinching save by striking out Rhyne Hughes and Travis Taijeron as they stood in the box representing the tying run in the ninth.
Offensively, Almonte was again the star, going 3-for-4 with his RBI before being replaced in left field by Ben Gamel in the eighth inning. Castillo and Reegie Corona were each 2-for-4 and Flores, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin all tallied one hit apiece to finish out Trenton's total at 10.
With the win, the Thunder advance to their second straight ELCS and fifth in seven years under Tony Franklin. They will begin their quest for their first title since 2008 on Tuesday night in Trenton, when they host the winner of the Western Division Championship Series between Harrisburg and Erie, which Harrisburg leads 2-1 after a win Friday night. Games 1 (Tuesday) and 2 (Wednesday) will be at Arm & Hammer Park, with Game 3 and Games 4 and 5, if necessary, to be held next Thursday-Saturday at the West representative's home.