PP Game Notes: Thunder 6, Rock Cats 5

TRENTON - The Trenton Thunder defeated the New Britain Rock Cats 6-5 in front of 6,343 fans on a drizzly night at Waterfront Park. The win enabled the Thunder to salvage one of the three games from the Rock Cats before a rare Sunday off day.

Justin Pope bounced back from a shaky outing his last time out against the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday, in which he allowed six earned runs in four and two-thirds innings of work, to pitch six solid innings tonight allowing only one run. The win improved Pope's record to 4-2 on the season and dropped Rock Cat starter Francisco Liriano to 0-2 on the year. David Shepard came in to pitch the final inning and two-thirds to record his 18th save.

The Thunder jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the third and held the lead the entire evening. Jason Grove and Omar Fuentes led off the second with back to back singles to left before Kevin Thompson promptly followed with a double that scored Grove and advanced Fuentes to third with no outs. Thompson however would leave the game with an undisclosed back injury he suffered on a diving catch he made in right centerfield to end the top of the third inning. Thunder manager Stump Merrill described Thompson's status after the game as "day to day." After Jake Weber replaced Thompson at second, Andy Cannizaro contributed an infield single that scored Fuentes and staked the Thunder to an early lead.

The Thunder added one more in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead when Weber doubled to the right field wall and scored Fuentes who had reached on a double to the left field corner.

The Thunder had seemingly broken the game open when they scored three runs in the sixth to take a 6-0 lead on the strength of a bases clearing three run double by Mitch Jones. Jones double scored Weber, Cannizaro, and Bronson Sardinha. Weber and Cannizaro reached on back to back two out singles before Sardinha walked to load the bases and bring Jones to the plate.


The Thunder would need all of those insurance runs as the game played out. After Pope allowed a solo home run to left center off the bat of Kevin West and back to back singles to Garrett Jones and Bryan Kennedy, he was lifted in favor of Dave Elder. Elder got out of the jam in the seventh, but failed to retire a batter before he was lifted in the eighth. Elder allowed back to back singles to  Seth Davidson and Luis Maza before an errant throw by Aaron Rifkin allowed Davidson to score and put runners at second and third. Ryan Owens followed with a two run double to left scored Maza and Matt Scanlon to make it a 6-4 game. Tim Adkins was then brought in from the Thunder bullpen and after getting Garrett Jones to fly out to left, he allowed a single to left center that scored Owens and made a 6-5 game before David Shepard finally stopped the bleeding.


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