Make that five in a row for the red-hot Aeros.
They made easy work of Trenton Thunder pitching, scoring two runs in the first inning and then five in the third to bury the Thunder 7-5 Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series.
After falling behind two games to the Bowie Baysox in the divisional round, the Aeros won three in a row to take that series and now hold a firm handle on the ELCS as they move to Trenton for Game 3 on Friday night.
“Going up 2-0 in the series is a good thing, but we can’t get comfortable,” manager Chris Tremie said. “This team has played really well all year. We lost a couple of close games in Bowie, but that’s history.”
Jesus Aguilar and his two-run home run to left field in the first inning put the Aeros ahead. The third inning put the game out of reach.
Matt Lawson drove in the first run with a double and Adam Abraham tripled home two more runs with a deep, towering fly ball that appeared to be a routine flyout but didn’t come down before careening off the top of the wall in center field. A coaching visit to the mound for pitcher Shaeffer Hall wasn’t much help. Ryan Rohlinger hit a laser of a home run to left-center field to score the fourth and fifth runs of the inning. Hall lasted just three innings.
That third inning was almost a wash, though, when Chun Chen left first base on an Aguilar strikeout in which the catcher dropped the ball, even though it was an automatic out with two runners on base. He returned safely and the Aeros piled on.
Aeros starter Danny Salazar was up and down and did just enough to keep the Thunder at bay. He struck out nine batters but also made two costly mistakes, the first to Tyler Austin for a solo shot and then to Zoilo Almonte for a three-run home run in the sixth inning. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs on five hits.
“I think he [Salazar] got the ball up a little bit in the fifth and sixth [innings],” Tremie said. “It could have been he was getting tired a little bit. He pitched real well in the first five innings, a real strong outing overall.”
Kyle Landis entered the game in the seventh inning and allowed the Thunder’s fifth run on a single up the middle from Rob Segedin. It would have been a two-run single if not for shortstop Davis Stoneburner, who saw runner Kevin Mahoney hesitate rounding third and fired home. The throw was low and toward the outside of the plate, but catcher Roberto Perez fielded it cleanly and swiped the tag on Mahoney. Thunder manager Tony Franklin was thrown out arguing the call.
Bryce Stowell finished the seventh and Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless eighth inning (two strikeouts).
For the second consecutive game, Preston Guilmet shut the door on the Thunder in the ninth, earning his fourth save of the playoffs.
Carlos Carrasco is to start for the Aeros in Game 3. Right-hander Mikey O’Brien (0-0, 1.80 ERA) is the scheduled pitcher for the Thunder.