PORTLAND, ME – Two errors led to two unearned runs for the Portland Sea Dogs, and that was the difference Monday night in Trenton’s 2-1 loss at Hadlock Field.
On a misty and chilly night with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, the game was 1-0 in favor of the Thunder until the bottom of the seventh inning when runners were at first and second base with no outs, and a sacrifice bunt by Reed Gragnani came back to the pitcher Kyle Haynes.
The third man out of the Thunder ‘pen pounced on it, but fired it low to first base so that it got away and allowed a run to score to tie the game, and it set up runners at second and third base with no outs. Following a strikeout to Marco Hernandez, Portland catcher Tim Roberson lofted a fly ball down the right field line that was caught in foul ground by Aaron Judge.
The 6-5, 260-pound David Chester was tagging at third base and tested the arm of Judge, but Judge fired a strong throw to the plate to nail Chester and end the inning.
However, a second defensive miscue cost the Thunder an inning later when a one-out ground ball with a runner on first base was handled by shortstop Vince Conde, but he gunned the ball wide of the second-base bag in an attempt to get the lead baserunner.
A few batters later, with the bases loaded and one out, Keury De La Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field that scored the go-ahead run easily and was the difference in the ballgame.
The night began on a chilling note for the Thunder in the bottom of the first inning, when starting pitcher Brady Lail was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Jantzen Witte. Portland’s first baseman shot Lail’s seventh pitch of the night back through the middle and knocked him over. Lail, who never seemed to lose consciousness, had initially popped up in discomfort to try and complete the play. He was immediately rushed by the Thunder coaching staff as well as the Thunder trainer, Lee Meyer.
As Portland’s training staff assisted on the scene, Lail was instructed to lay down and ultimately sat up for a few minutes before leaving the field under his own power under the guidance of Meyer, Thunder Strength and Conditioning Coach Orlando Crance and an EMT who had arrived at the scene.
Out of the bullpen, the Trenton continued on a terrific run in the last 36 hours when Johnny Barbato, Chris Smith and Kyle Haynes combined for 8.2 innings of four-hit relief with no earned runs against them. Including Sunday’s victory, it is now 15.2 innings without an earned run on just eight hits the last two games.
The Thunder get back to action Tuesday with a 6 p.m. scheduled first pitch. LHP Miguel Sulbaran (2-1, 2.45) starts for the Thunder, while a starting pitcher for the Sea Dogs has not yet been named. Coverage begins at 5:45 p.m. on 91.3 FM WTSR