TRENTON, NJ-The Trenton Thunder erased a four game losing streak with a 9-1 victory over the Erie SeaWolves on Wednesday afternoon.
To start a win streak, all they would need was two runs, though the last of which was picked up in dramatic fashion.
CF Jake Cave lined a walk-off single into right field that scored Francisco Arcia, earning a 2-1 victory for Trenton on Thursday afternoon. It allowed the Thunder to split a four game set with Erie, a Detroit Tigers affiliate.
“It’s an important win,” said Cave minutes after his heroics. “We don’t think too much about the losing streak, but it’s just good to get a win at home, especially before we hit the road for two series. We can get on the bus in a good mood.”
Facing a 2-2 count from Ryan Robowski (0-1), Cave lined the sixth pitch of the at-bat a leaping 2B Harold Castro to give Trenton the win. It was sweet redemption leadoff hitter Cave, who had struggled most of the day, entering the at-bat 0-for-3 and leaving three men on base.
“I wasn’t doing much at the plate today,” he said. “But that’s the way baseball works the guys that are struggling get a chance to win the game. You have to compete out there, and that’s what I did. Luckily I was able to make contact and drive (the winning run) in.”
Despite Cave’s struggles earlier in the game, Thunder manager Al Pedrique had the utmost confidence in his leadoff hitter going into the final at-bat.
“He’s been swinging the bat well for us,” said the first year manager. “That’s who you want to see in that situation. We knew for a fact he was going to find a way to get a hit, to put the ball in play.”
Cave wasn’t the only one struggling as Trenton and Erie batters alike endured a good old fashioned pitching duel. Both Trenton’s Miguel Sulbaran and Erie’s Warwick Saupold had impressive, if not almost duplicate pitching lines. Each went six shutout innings and allowed three hits, though Sulbaran struck out four and walked none while Saupold walked two and struck out two. Saupold also allowed no hits through the first 4 ⅓ innings.
Pedrique stressed the importance of a solid outing from the starting pitcher before the 10:30 AM first pitch, and Sulbaran delivered and then some.
“We were hoping he’d be able to six today,” he said. “Miguel stepped up and gave us a solid outing. He used the change-up and slider effectively today, and got ahead in the count.”
Sulbaran, speaking through translator/pitching Jose Rosado, was very positive after his outing.
“I took it one pitch at a time,” he said. “That’s the way you have to do it in this game. Go pitch by pitch, hitter by hitter.”
Sulbaran said he could’ve gone longer, but respected the staff’s decision to remove him after six.
“I definitely could’ve come out for the 7th,” he said. “But that was the staff’s decision, so I respect their choice and I’ll do whatever it takes to help us get a win.”
While Pedrique doesn’t want to tax his bullpen this early in the season, he witnessed solid performances from relievers Cesar Vargas and Caleb Cotham, who ended up earning the win (1-2). Over three innings, the duo combined to allow one run on three hits, walking two and striking out two.
“We don’t want to stretch out the bullpen, especially this early in the season,” he said. “But Vargas and Cotham each pitched well today. I’m very happy with the way that turned out.”
The early game, which ended just after 1:00 PM local time, now gives the team time to rest before embarking on a six game road trip starting this weekend in New Hampshire. With back to back wins under their belts, Pedrique is confident, especially with the way the team took care of business at an unusual start time.
“Either way, the game has to be played,” he said. “We had guys taking practice in the cages as early as 8 today. We took care of business today, and now we have to go up and to the same thing in New Hampshire.”
GAME NOTES: Eric Jagielo hit his 5th home run of the season in the bottom of the 8th, tying him for the team lead…Aaron Judge, the co-leader in homers, sat out…Erie got their one run on Jeff McVaney’s RBI single in the top of the 8th…With the win, Trenton improved to 3-1 in day games at ARM & HAMMER Park this season…the teams will meet for another four game set on May 22-25 at Jerry Uht Park.