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Mark Payton (Bryan Green)

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Payton Sparkles, but Thunder Eliminated from Playoff Contention

TRENTON, N.J. – Juan Ciriaco’s RBI triple in the top of 12th inning pushed the New Britain Rock Cats past the Thunder, 6-5, on Wednesday night at ARM & HAMMER Park.

With the defeat and a B-Mets victory, the Thunder were eliminated from postseason contention on Monday night.

In the 12th, Joey Wong doubled to left-center and after Noel Cuevas struck out, Ciriaco lined a base hit to right that Danny Oh dove for and could not get. Ciriaco circled the bases and was thrown out trying to finish an inside-the-park home run for the final out of the inning. The Thunder offense got a one out single from Oh in the bottom half of the frame, however, Tyler Wade grounded into a double play to end the ball game.

The Rock Cats jumped out to a 3-1 advantage in the fifth before the Thunder rallied for the lead an inning later. Danny Oh led off the frame with a double and Tyler Wade followed him with an infield single. After a 12-pitch at-bat, Tony Renda dropped a single into right field off of Matt Flemer to load the bases. Mark Payton stepped to the plate and hammered a 2-0 offering over the wall in right for his first professional grand slam.

With a 5-3 Thunder lead into the eighth inning, the New Britain offense struck for a pair of runs against Evan Rutckyj and Giovanny Gallegos with two out. Rutckyj surrendered back-to-back hits to allow Jan Vazquez to score and after Dean Espy was hit by a pitch, Gallegos entered and allowed a game-tying single to Ciriaco.

The game-tying hit negated another strong effort from RHP Jaron Long. Long went at least seven innings for the fourth straight outing and surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk on Wednesday night. Long tied a Thunder-career-best with eight strikeouts in the game.

Payton set a career-high with five RBIs and hit the first grand slam by a Thunder player since Peter O’Brien hit one at Reading on May 28, 2014.

Your Thunder will play the finale of their four-game set with New Britain on Thursday night at 7pm. It’s Thirsty Thursday and after the game all fans can enjoy post-game fireworks. RHP Eric Ruth (9-4, 2.94) will start for the Thunder, RHP Jeff Hoffman (1-2, 2.93) will go for the Rock Cats. Listen live to Thunder baseball on 91.3 WTSR and online at Trentonthunder.com beginning at 6:40pm on Thursday evening.

This post is a press release courtesy of the Trenton Thunder Media Relations Department.

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