Crazy Eights

The Erie Seawolves defeated the Trenton Thunder 8-3 in front of 3,987 faithful at Waterfront Park on a beautiful night for baseball in Trenton. With the wind blowing out, it appeared to be a hitters night early as the first batter of the game, David Espinosa, hit a long home run to stake Erie to an early 1-0 lead.

After allowing a single to the next batter, Don Kelly, Thunder starter Javier Ortiz settled in to strike out five of the next six Seawolves he faced. Ortiz would give the Thunder a solid five innings, allowing three runs.

The Thunder tied the game in the bottom of the second when Mitch Jones took an 0-1 pitch from Erie starter Wilfredo Ledezma out of the yard.

Trenton's next shot at Erie came in the fourth when Jones, leading off, reached on a grounder to the pitcher that Ledezma airmailed down the right field line. Two singles by the next two hitters, Jake Weber and Jackson Melian, accounted for the first of the Thunder's two fourth inning runs. Weber scored when Kevin Reese, hitting in the nine hole, singled to right center after Ferdin Tejeda grounded into a double play to account for the Thunder's third run of the game.

The Thunder were plagued by shaky defense throughout the entire game. J.T. Slotts, who is trying to become a third baseman after playing his entire career as a middle infielder, looked to be struggling on at least three different occasions. Thunder manager Stump Merrill said after the game that Stotts, "is learning a new position at third base. He's going to make mistakes, just like we all are." Passed balls and wild pitches also confounded Trenton the entire evening as they uncorked three wild pitches and two passed balls, including one that led to one of Erie's three sixth inning runs.

Erie started the sixth inning with a double to the left field corner and a walk. That spelled the end of the evening for Thunder starter Ortiz and John Blankenship (0-1), Trenton's only left-handed reliever, was brought in behind him. Blankenship struggled retiring only one of the three batters he faced. Blankenship said after the game that, "Physically I feel fine. I'm not going to make excuses for my pitches. I didn't make good pitches and they were hit. If I make a better pitch, maybe there's a different result." A double by Jack Hannahan spelled the end of his night and Jeff Kennard was brought in to try and restore order. He retired the next two batters to retire Erie in the sixth and put them down in order in the seventh. Three consecutive singles in the eighth would prompt Merrill to make another call to the Thunder bullpen, this time calling on Francisco Villegas.

Villegas came him with the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth and got the first batter he faced to ground into a fielders' choice that cut down the runner at the plate. Neil Jenkins, the next batter, grounded to second with the middle of the infield back to give Erie their first of what would become four runs in the eighth inning. Two doubles with a walk to Scott Tousa in between accounted for the other three Seawolves runs. Villegas was able to keep Erie off the board in their half of the ninth.

The Erie bullpen was able to shutout the Trenton offense over the four innings, allowing just one batter over the minimum during that time. Ledezma, who was a pitch count of approximately 75 pitches went only three and two-thirds innings, but gave up only one earned run over that span. Mark Woodyard (1-0), Roberto Novoa, and Jason Carnuth combined to keep the Thunder off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.


Notes:
Stump Merrill has decided that Steve Braun will coach first base this year and Brad Elwood will handle the coaching duties at third… Merrill also continued his precedent from last season of continual lineup changes as he fielded his second different lineup in as many games. Today's 1:35PM game is Don Mattingly bobble-head day at Waterfront Park for all fans…Mitch Jones, who homered yesterday, was second in the Eastern League last year with 23 home runs.

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