South Jersey Baseball:
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By Dan Loney
(Erie, PA)- The Thunder used a pair of shutouts, giving them a franchise-record 18 for the season, to sweep a doubleheader from Erie on Wednesday and win the Northern Division Title. The win gives Trenton, a team that started the season losing their first 10 games, their first Northern Division Title since 1999.
Trenton will host the Northern Division Championship series starting next Wednesday and Thursday at Waterfront Park. Games #1 and #2 will both be 7:05 PM starts.
In the opener, Thunder starter Phil Hughes allowed just two singles on the evening en route to the win. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter. Hughes (10-3) has now won eight straight decisions and is going to win the ERA title for the season (2.25). Scott Patterson came on in the 9th Inning to earn his 1st save. Justin Pope left after four pitches in the 7th Inning with a right biceps injury.
The Thunder (76-60) took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd Inning. 2B Gabe Lopez reached on a two-base error by CF Victor Mendez. LF Shelley Duncan singled him home with two outs for the lead. The lead went to 2-0 in the 7th Inning as DH Brett Gardner collected a two-out bunt single to score CF Justin Christian. Erie starter Virgil Vasquez (7-12) tossed his third straight complete game in the loss. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in the loss.
In the second game, the Thunder scratched out an unearned run off reliever Mark Woodyard in the 5th Inning for a 1-0 lead. Trenton loaded the bases with one out. A ground ball by 1B Randy Ruiz was mishandled by Erie 3B Kody Kirkland. That error allowed C Jason Brown to score. Thunder starter Francisco Butto (2-2) tossed five shutout innings for the win with three hits allowed, three walks and four strikeouts. Gerardo casadiego came on to work two scoreless innings to record his 1st save.
Woodyard (1-2) took the loss in relief allowing one unearned run in two innings.