TRENTON, NJ– In a game that seemed like a struggle from the moment they fell behind, the Reading Fightin Phils fell behind 0-2 in the best-of-five Double-A Eastern League division playoffs to the Trenton Thunder with a 9-4 defeat at ARM & HAMMER Park on Thursday.
Reading scored first in the contest, taking a 1-0 lead in the opening frame when Roman Quinn, who singled, stole second and moved over to third on a ground out, scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Jorge Afaro.
Pinto would start the 4th inning, but would not record an out as he left the game after opening the frame surrendering a walk, a single and an RBI double. Jesen Therrien would enter the game at that point, surrendering a sac fly to former Phillies prospect Sebastian Valle that put Trenton up 4-1.
Reading got the game back within a single run in the 5th when Quinn knocked in a run on a fielders choice and Christian Marrero plated another run on a ground out.
Trenton clapped back quickly, notching two more runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning on a pair of sac flies putting the Thunder lead at 6-3.
Slugger Dylan Cozens launched a home run out of the park and into the Delaware River to lead off the 6th, trimming the deficit to 6-4.
Thunder reliever J.P. Feyereisen mowed down the meat of the Reading line up, striking out Alfaro with two runners on to end the 7th. He then struck out Cozens, drew a long fly out from first baseman Rhys Hoskins and got veteran masher Jake Fox to ground out.
Right-hander Miguel Nunez gave up three Thunder insurance runs in the 8th as he allowed five straight base runners after retiring the first two batters of the frame. Tyler Jones would toss a scoreless 9th to close it out for Trenton.
“I thought that our bats were good. I think that the bullpen struggled a little bit, but I think, you know, that’s a lot of young guys coming into games that had never been in that situation before,” Fightins manager Dusty Wathan stated following the game.
Wathan joked after the loss that dropping both road games of the series was all part of the team’s plan.
“Well, we were planning to lose the first two and then winning the last three at home because it’s way more fun to do it that way,” Wathan said with a smirk.
The series continues with game three in Reading on Friday night with lefty Elniery Garcia (12-4 record, 2.68 ERA in 20 outings for Class A Advanced Clearwater) slated to make his Double-A debut for the Fightins.