Double-A Trenton sweeps its way to EL title
Thunder becomes first Eastern League team since 1991 to go undefeated in playoffs
As if winning the franchise's third title in seven years wasn't enough, the Trenton Thunder captured the Double-A Eastern League crown in about as dominant a fashion as possible.
Their 11-4 victory in Harrisburg on Thursday night capped a three-game sweep of the Western Division-champion Senators. It came on the heels of a three-game sweep of Binghamton, which put Trenton in the finals, making the Thunder the first Eastern League team since the 1991 Albany-Colonie Yankees to complete a perfect postseason.
"We develop winners and winning-type baseball," manager Tony Franklin told MiLB.com.
The Trenton offense pounded out 16 hits to back solid performances by four Thunder pitchers. Starter Shane Greene gave up three runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. Eventually, it was Branden Pinder who would close the game by getting a fly ball to center fielder Mason Williams. Chaos ensued as the dugout and bullpen emptied, creating a mob scene behind the pitcher's mound.
Shortstop Ali Castillo, the club's No. 9 hitter, took home Most Valuable Player honors for the series. He hit a pivotal homer on Thursday and finished the playoffs with eight hits in 20 at-bats after batting just .218 during the regular season.
The title marked the third championship in the Thunder's 20 years of existence, with the previous two coming consecutively in 2007 and '08.
"It was a special group of guys, probably the most special -- especially since they were so young," Franklin said. "They got hot at the right time."