Nick Green Looks Forward To 2017 After Successful 2016

Nick Green (James Snook/ Spokane Indians)

Nick Green was a pitcher the New York Yankees had on their radar for a long time. Green was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. Green felt he wasn’t ready for professional baseball and chose to go to Indian Hills Community College in Iowa instead.

“I didn’t think I was ready to start a career. I wanted to be more mature, more developed physically I would say,” Green said of the decision to play college baseball rather than accept the Yankees offer at the time.

The time at Indian Hills turned out to be invaluable and helped prepare him for his pro career. “They were actually an international scouting team as well. I played with a lot of Latin guys on that team. I played with older guys. I got to travel, go to a different state, so it was good,” Green said.

That year at Indian Hills helped catch the attention of scouts and once again, Green was drafted. This time, the Texas Rangers came calling in the seventh round. Green felt more ready to start his career by this point. “I did not know (the Rangers) would take me but I was really excited. I knew they were interested, but I wasn’t really sure how interested,” Green said.

The Rangers assigned him to their Rookie Arizona League team where he got his feet wet. Green went 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 games, five of which were starts. For 2015, the Rangers bumped him up to class A short-season Spokane. Green struggled going 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA. His struggles though were in part due to an injury that slowed him down. “I went through an injury and I came back not as confident really. I had a really good first half and then after my injury, I kind of went downhill after that and my confidence went down after that,” Green said.

For 2016, Texas sent Green back to Spokane where he went 2-2 in 12 starts with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts striking out 65 batters in 62 innings pitched. Then on August 1, Green received a call he wasn’t expecting. “(Rangers Assistant Director of Player Development) Paul Kruger called me and just said he’s happy with what I’ve been doing with them, he said I had been traded. I was pretty excited for the new experience, but I knew I was going to miss some guys with the Rangers of course,” Green recalled.

The Yankees received Green, along with Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson, in return for Carlos Beltran. Green was happy not only about the trade but about who he was traded for, as Beltran may someday be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “That was pretty exciting, that was awesome. I was pretty excited about that,” Green said.

The Yankees assigned to Staten Island where Green got off to an excellent start. He was 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA with the Baby Bombers. Those numbers earned him a quick promotion to Charleston, where Green kept up his momentum. “I was really excited just to get started and meet everybody. I was really excited to start with another team (Staten Island) as well because that’s just another group of guys I got to know. The guys down there were awesome, so I was really happy to move up and start here with the new guys and get to know them,” Green said. With the RiverDogs, Green’s numbers were even more impressive going 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 17 innings. Those numbers earned him the game one start for Charleston in the South Atlantic League playoffs. “I mean all these guys here are unbelievable, so to get that was a really really big blessing and an honor. I was excited to go out there and I gave them my best.”

Green struggled in the first inning of that start in a 3-1 RiverDogs loss. The Rome Braves ended up putting up two runs in the first inning. They would tack on another run in the third to make it 3-0. Green went five innings and took the loss. “It was exciting, it was really fun. I had a great time even though I didn’t produce what I should have, but I had a really fun time. The guys out there were unbelievable, they had my back. They swung the sticks the best they could and it was great,” Green said of his start. “I went out there and I just pitched my game. I’ve been working on a couple of things. Going out there and just continuing to do what I’ve been doing and trying to continue. That’s what I went out there with that mindset. Nothing really changed, it was just a bad outing.”

Green throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. He ends up striking out a lot of hitters and tries to pitch aggressively, throwing lots of strikes. “I just try to stay aggressive. I usually like when hitters are aggressive because they’re swinging. I like to throw my curveball out there, mix in a changeup every couple of times. I really like when they’re aggressive and I really like to just attack,” Green said.

One of the things the Yankees are looking for Green to work on is having a consistent throwing motion. “I guess like any other pitcher, more consistent mechanics. Continuing the same mindset every game. Just trying to be consistent over all, just like what any other pitcher would do,” Green said. “I’ve been working with Popey (pitching coach Justin Pope) and a couple of the coordinators around here. They’ve talked to me a little bit, but nothing too specific. I’ll be going to instructs so we’ll see what they have for me there.”

As for 2017, Green has a game plan in mind. “Getting bigger, stronger, obviously those are the two great things. Continuing my mental preparation every day and just getting better, confidently. I guess just to continuing to keep consistent mechanics. Make sure I don’t fall out of my every day routine,” Green said. “I’m going to go in and just obviously do my best, just like I do every year. I’m just going to go in with a plan and I’m going to go prepared.”

Green’s effort is what drives him to be successful, “I’m going to give my best every time I go out on the mound so you’re going to get what you came for.”

Parmelee, Montgomery Help RailRiders Rule Triple-A

Chris Parmelee's three-run homer got the RailRiders started in Memphis Tuesday night. (Photo by Martin Griff).

Memphis, Tenn. – Chris Parmelee blasted a first-inning homer and four pitchers took it from there as the SWB RailRiders (International League/New York Yankees) defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League/San Diego Padres) for the 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Championship at AutoZone Park on Tuesday night. SWB’s first-ever overall Triple-A crown proved the first for the International League since the Columbus Clippers in 2011.

Three straight hits started the home first for the RailRiders, who enjoyed home field by virtue of the IL’s victory over the PCL in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Mark Payton singled, Clint Frazier followed with a single of his own and Parmelee sent them all home with a blast to right field off starter Walker Lockett (0-1).

SWB starter Jordan Montgomery fired a pair of perfect innings before a Jose Rondon double and a single by former RailRider Nick Noonan started the third. Montgomery retired the next three in order to quell the threat.

Montgomery (1-0) was lifted after three straight El Paso hits sparked the sixth, successive singles by Michael Margot, Carlos Asuaje and an RBI blow by Austin Hedges. Former San Diego prospect Johnny Barbato entered from the bullpen and started a string of 12 straight retired down the stretch by SWB relievers.

Phil Coke was perfect in the seventh and eighth while Giovanny Gallegos fired a 1-2-3 ninth to cement the hardware and record the save.

Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. PNC Field in Moosic, home of the RailRiders, will be the place to be for the 2017 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 19. The Mohegan Sun Pocono Hotel and Casino and PNC Field will serve as hosts of the two-day event. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.

 

RailRiders Capture IL Crown, Play in Memphis Tuesday

Dan Camarena threw 5.1 scoreless innings in his first Triple-A start. (Photo by Martin Griff)

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – The SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/ New York Yankees) earned their first Governors’ Cup title since 2008 by shutting out the Gwinnett Braves 3-0 to win the Championship Series 3-1  Friday night at Coolray Field. The 2016 RailRiders held the G-Braves to just two runs over the final 35.1 innings of the series.

Dan Camarena (1-0) took home the win in the decisive game after firing 5.1 scoreless frames in his first Triple-A start. The left-hander held the G-Braves to five hits and a walk while striking out four. Giovanny Gallegos earned the save after tossing a perfect ninth. Rob Wooten (0-2) shouldered the loss despite matching a career high with eight strikeouts. He allowed two runs on five hits.

Mark Payton broke a scoreless tie in the fifth by driving home Jake Cave with a two-out single to right. Clint Frazier followed with a bloop single, scoring Cito Culver for a 2-0 lead.

Payton’s third hit of the night provided insurance for the RailRiders. With two away in the seventh, Payton drove a pitch to the wall in right field that glanced off the glove of a leaping Mel Rojas Jr. Culver raced home from first and Payton hustled to third for a triple and a 3-0 lead.

The RailRiders will face the champion of the Pacific Coast League in the 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Championship at Autozone Park in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Sept. 20. First pitch is set for 8:05 p.m.  Starting pitchers have not been announced.

The RailRiders staff will host a watch party at Revello’s Café Pizza in Old Forge, Pa. on September 20 beginning at 8 p.m. There will be pizza and drink specials, raffles and prizes from the RailRiders. Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. To purchase or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com!

OFF THE RAILS: 

Jake Cave was named series Most Valuable Player. The outfielder finished 4-for-13 (.308), three walks and a three RBIs.

The RailRiders, a team that rewrote several team records throughout the season, became the first club in franchise history to lose the first game of a playoff series and come back to win the set.

SWB pitching has not allowed a run in postseason competition on the road, a span of 36 innings. The RailRiders held the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) scoreless in both meetings at Coca-Cola Park and the Gwinnett Braves without a run at Coolray Field.

Akron Beats Trenton to Win Eastern League Championship

Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell saw his season come to a close on Friday night. Photo by: Martin Griff

TRENTON, NJ – On a brisk autumn-like Friday night at ARM & HAMMER Park, The Akron Rubberducks defeated the Thunder, 2-1, to complete the series sweep and capture their fifth Eastern League title. Trenton saw their historic 87-win season come crashing down after dropping three straight games to the Western Division champions.

Justus Sheffield delivers a pitch against Akron in game 3 of the ELCS on Friday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. Photo by John Blaine
Justus Sheffield delivers a pitch against Akron in game 3 of the ELCS on Friday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. Photo by John Blaine

Akron was 56-59 and pretty much out of the postseason equation in early August. The Ducks stunningly heated up and won 21 of their final 26 regular season games and clinched the division title on the final day of the season. As improbable as that run was, they were the hottest team going into the dance and they carried that over into the postseason with series wins over Altoona and Trenton.

Trenton won 10 more games than any team in the West and had just slayed the proverbial dragon with an emotional series victory over the Reading Fightin’ Phils. The path to the title was paved and the only roadblock was a 77 win team standing in their way.

Manager Bobby Mitchell was hoping that his suddenly stagnant offense would awaken on Friday night in-time to stave off elimination and salvage their season for at least one more game.

After both teams held each other hitless over two innings, Akron opened the scoring in the third inning on an RBI groundout from right fielder Jordan Smith to take the 1-0 advantage. They would never look back.

Thunder starter Justus Sheffield, a former Indians prospect, had struggled in his first two Double-A outings. He had allowed 15 base-runners (10 hits, 5 walks) in 8.1 innings since being promoted to Trenton. With the season on the line, Sheffield struggled with command, allowing four walks along with 2 hits in 4.1 innings on Friday.

After retiring the ninth hitter in the Akron order, Ivan Castillo, to lead-off the fifth, Manager Bobby Mitchell pulled Sheffield in favor of rehabbing big-leaguer, Anthony Swarzak. The first batter he would face, speedster Greg Allen, would reach on an infield single to second base. He promptly swiped second and third base and would score on a sac-fly  by Eric Stamets to put Akron ahead, 2-0.

Catcher Sebastian Valle would answer back in the bottom half of the frame as he blasted a two-out solo homer to left field off of Nick Pasquale to bring the Thunder deficit to just one run.

Trenton squandered another golden opportunity in the sixth inning. After left fielder Michael O’Neill led off the frame with an infield single, shortstop Tyler Wade’s slow rolling groundout allowed O’Neill to round second and successfully take third base on a close tag play. With the tying run on third with just one out, neither Dustin Fowler or Miguel Andujar could drive home the run for the Thunder.

“We had a chance to tie it and we couldn’t take care of it,” said Mitchell. “It would have been fun to see what would have happened after that if we would have tied it.”

Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell saw his season come to a close on Friday night. Photo by: Martin Griff
Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell saw his season come to a close on Friday night. Photo by: Martin Griff

It turns out that would be the last opportunity that Trenton would have to save their season. Akron would not allow another base runner over the final three innings. Louis Head would strike out Andujar on three straight pitches to seal the championship victory. The entire team stormed the mound and celebrated in triumph.

Catcher Eric Haase was named the ELCS MVP, who hit a crushing grand slam in game 1 that seemingly shifted all of the momentum in the series to the way of Akron.

RubbderDucks starter Nick Pasquale was stellar; he went 5.2 innings and allowed just four hits over his outing. The 25-year old right-hander had allowed just two earned runs over his last 21.2 innings heading into his start on Friday night.

“We had a great group of guys since the beginning of the year,” said Wade. “We stuck together all year and grinded it out. We fell a couple of games short but I think it was a Hell of a year for all of us. It was a great team to be a part of and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We were hungry from game one; Akron is a really good team and they played us well, we just fell a couple of games short.”

As the loud celebration in the visitors clubhouse echoed through Mitchell’s clubhouse during his postgame press conference , Mitchell reflected on what went wrong for his team.

“That was a tough loss, it is a tough way to lose,” admitted Mitchell. “Especially after the last series that we had and beating the team with the best record, and then to get swept, that is really hard to swallow.”

Lail Sharp as RailRiders Take Series Lead

Brady Lail got the job done for the RailRiders Thursday night.

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – The potent pitching of Brady LailDietrich Enns  and J.R. Graham combined on a five-hit shutout as the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) blanked the Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves) in a critical Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup Championship Series on Thursday night, 3-0. SWB owns a 2-1 series lead and sits one win short of the franchise’s second-ever Governors’ Cup crown and first since 2008.

The run scoring came early with RBI hits from Chris Parmelee and Kyle Higashioka in the first frame to plate Mark Payton and Donovan Solano. The second inning began with a line-drive homer off the immense retaining wall in left from Pete Kozma.

Lail handled things from there, firing 6.1 scoreless innings. The right-hander struck out five, walked none and had faced three over the minimum before he plunked Sean Kazmar, Jr. and got the hook in the seventh. Enns entered and struck out Reid Brignac looking before Tyler Moore lined out to short.

Gwinnett’s best chance came in the eighth with a Kyle Kubitza single and a hit-and-run poke by Braeden Schlehuber to put men at the corners with nobody out. Enns rebounded, striking out Emilio Bonifacio and Mel Rojas, Jr. in succession. SWB manager Al Pedrique then called upon Graham, who whiffed former RailRider Ronnier Mustelier to put a bow on the eighth.

In the ninth, Graham worked around a two-out walk of Brignac, getting Moore to fly out to center field to end it.

Game 4 in the best-of-five series takes place at 7:05 p.m. at Coolray Field Friday night. SWB’s Dan Camarena (NR) will face a to-be-announced hurler.

Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. Should SWB advance to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, the RailRiders staff will host a watch party at Revello’s Café Pizza in Old Forge, Pa. on Tuesday, Sept. 20 beginning at 8 p.m. There will be pizza and drink specials, raffles and prizes from the RailRiders. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.

OFF THE RAILS:

The RailRiders led the minors with a franchise-record 24 shutouts in the regular season. Three of SWB’s five playoff wins during this run have been shutouts.

SWB’s 47 road wins tied with Nashville for the most in Triple-A this season. The team has gone 3-0 on the road during these playoffs, all shutout wins.

The RailRiders have gone 5-0 at Coolray Field this season between the regular campaign and playoffs combined. Since the Braves moved their top affiliate to suburban Atlanta in 2009, the SWB franchise has won 26 of 32 at Coolray Field including all three playoff meetings in Lawrenceville.

Since Gwinnett scored six runs in Game 1’s opening inning, the G-Braves have amassed just two runs over the last 26.1 innings.

Donovan Solano went 2-for-3 in Game 3 with a double, two bruises and a run scored.

Pete Kozma enjoyed a 2-for-4 night with a lined single in addition to his homer.

Chris Parmelee walked twice and finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.

 

RailRiders Rally Late, Even IL Series

Giovanny Gallegos picked up the win for the RailRiders in relief.

MOOSIC, PA – Held without a hit for much for the night, it was patience that allowed the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/ New York Yankees) to even the Governors’ Cup Championship Series at 1-1 against the Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves). The RailRiders used four walks and a hit batsmen to walk-off the G-Braves 2-1 and bring the curtain down on the 2016 season at PNC Field.

Phil Coke kept the RailRiders in the game throughout the night by holding Gwinnett to a run on three hits over 7.1 innings. The southpaw fanned nine without walking a batter. Giovanny Gallegos (2-0) took home the win in relief after blanking the G-Braves over the final 1.2 innings. He struck out two.

Sean Kazmar Jr. produced the only run for Gwinnett in the fourth when a two-out, bloop double dropped in right field to score Ronnier Mustelier from first.

The combined efforts of starter Chris Ellis and reliever Madison Younginer held SWB without a hit through seven innings. Pinch hitter Cito Culver delivered the club’s only knock when he bounced a double fair of first with one away in the eighth inning.

The RailRiders seized the moment in the ninth, however as Donovan Solano and Chris Parmelee worked consecutive walks off Bradley Roney (0-1) to begin the ninth. An errant fastball went too far in and plunked Kyle Higashioka to load the bases.

Michael Cleto quickly relieved Roney, but could not escape the jam. With no one out, Jake Cave took a four-pitch walk to plate Solano for the tying score. Pete Kozma followed with a base-on-balls that forced home the winning run in Cesar Puello.

With the series even, the championship round shifts to Cool Ray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga., for Game Three. Right-hander Brady Lail (0-0, 2.25) gets the nod against right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (0-0, 3.60). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. The G-Braves will also host Game Four at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, September 16 and, if necessary Game Five on Saturday, September 17.

Season tickets for the 2017 season are now on sale. Should SWB advance to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, the RailRiders staff will host a watch party at Revello’s Café Pizza in Old Forge, Pa. on September 20 beginning at 8 p.m. There will be pizza and drink specials, raffles and prizes from the RailRiders. To purchase tickets or to find out more information, call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.

OFF THE RAILS: 

In the ninth inning, the G-Braves used two pitchers and fired 20 pitches. Only three were strikes (Roney 11-2 and Cleto (9-1).

SWB was held to one hit in a playoff game for the third time in club history. Rochester (9-9-06) in a 2-0 win and Columbus (9-10-10) in a 1-0 victory also held SWB to one hit.

The RailRiders posted 11 walk-off wins during the 2016 regular season, including the final two home games against the Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals). Wednesday’s win marked the 12th and third in the final five games.

Donovan Solano earned three of the RailRiders’ nine walks on the night and tied the team record for most walks by a batter in a single playoff game (Doug Bernier vs. Gwinnett, 9-12-09).

The nine bases-on-balls fell one shy of their regular season high 10 versus the Durham Bulls on July 22 and one shy of the franchise record for walks in a single playoff game (10 at Durham, 9-12-08).

Kaminsky, Ducks Take 2-0 Lead in ELCS

Billy McKinney has swing the hottest bat during the Thunder's playoff run. (Photo by Martin Griff)

AKRON, OH — Rob Kaminsky struck out a season-high eight batters in 6.2 innings and the Thunder dropped game two of the Eastern League Championship Series, 4-2, to the Akron RubberDucks at Canal Park on Wednesday night.

Kaminsky, of course, is a former New Jersey high-school star.

Akron struck first in the third inning against Will Carter with four straight hits. An RBI double from Jordan Smith and a two-run single by Nellie Rodriguez thrust the ‘Ducks into the lead. Carter would rebound with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, but, was lifted in the fifth.

The Thunder grabbed their first run in the top of the fifth when Billy McKinney tripled to left and Billy Fleming drove him in with a groundout to short.

With a 3-1 deficit for the Thunder, Carter allowed the first two men to reach in the fifth when the team went to the bullpen. Cale Coshow entered and walked the first man to load the bases, but, recovered to hold Akron to just one run in the inning.

 

Trailing 4-1, the Thunder broke through for a run in the seventh when Sebastian Valle singled home Billy McKinney. However, the Thunder left two men in scoring position when Tyler Wade grounded out and Dustin Fowler struck out against reliever Cameron HIll.

Kaminsky earned the win by allowing just two runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings pitched. His eight strikeouts was a season-high. Hill and Louis Head completed the win, despite the Thunder putting two men on base in the ninth inning.

The Thunder bullpen of Coshow, Feyereisen, and Jones delivered four scoreless innings of relief, but, walked six batters.

With his 2-for-4 performance, Billy McKinney is now batting 10-for-20 with four doubles, one triple and one home run in the postseason. Sebastian Valle had a three-hit game for the Thunder on Tuesday night to lead the Thunder offense.

The Thunder continue the Championship series against Akron at 7:00 on Friday night. LHP Justus Sheffield will start for the Thunder, the ‘Ducks will counter with RHP Nick Pasquale. The first 1,500 fans, ages six and older, will receive a Baby Bombers poster, courtesy of Wilmington University. For tickets, call 609-394-3300 or visit www.trentonthunder.com.

 

Gwinnett Spins Its Way to Game 1 Win

Outfielder Jake Cave just missed a cycle in the Railriders' Game 1 loss Tuesday. (Photo by Martin Griff)

MOOSIC, PA – The SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/ New York Yankees) fell down six runs in the first inning and fell short in their comeback bid on Tuesday night at PNC Field. The Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves) held on for a 7-4 win in Game One of the best-of-five Governors’ Cup Championship Series.

Jordan Montgomery (1-1) retired only two batters in the first inning. He allowed six runs, three earned, on six hits. The RailRiders used five relievers the rest of the way to hold the G-Braves to a run on seven hits. Aaron Blair (1-0) took home the win. The right-hander allowed four runs on six hits across 7.1 innings. Michael Cleto worked around two runners in scoreless ninth for the save.

Sean Kazmar Jr.’s three-run homer to left-center highlighted the early onslaught for Gwinnett. Jake Cave got the RailRiders on the board in the second frame with a solo shot that clanged off the left-field foul pole.

In the eighth, the RailRiders loaded the bases with one out to chase Blair. Reliever Jason Hursh entered and managed to retire Chris Parmelee on a pop out to third. But Kyle Higashioka smashed a single to right that scored two and Cave followed with a single that plated Donovan Solano. Hursh induced a foul out by Cito Culver to preserve a 6-4 lead.

Tyler Moore doubled off Johnny Barbato in the top of the ninth to score Kazmar for the final margin. The RailRiders brought the tying run to the plate in the last of the ninth, but Solano struck out to end it.

Left-hander Phil Coke (1-0, 0.00) will face right-hander Chris Ellis (1-0, 0.00) in Game Two of the Governors’ Cup Championship Series on Wednesday, September 14 at PNC Field. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. It will be the last chance to catch your 2016 International League North Division champion SWB RailRiders at home! Fans can purchase lawn seat tickets for $1 and Bud Lights for $1! Purchase playoff tickets by calling 570-969-BALL (2255) or online at swbrailriders.com

OFF THE RAILS: 

The seven runs scored by the Gwinnett Braves were the most allowed by the RailRiders since a 7-1 loss to the Rochester Red Wings at PNC Field on August 26.

Jake Cave finished 3-for-4 and a triple shy of the cycle. He is now 7-for-14 (.500) in four postseason games with two doubles, a home run and three RBI and three runs scored.

The six runs allowed by Jordan Montgomery were two more than he allowed in 37.0IP during six regular season starts. The home run was also the first he allowed at the Triple-A level.

In the Yankees era (2007-Present), SWB’s playoff opener has told the tale. Every time it won the opening game of a playoff series it went on to win that series. Each time it lost a series opener, it lost that set. The franchise has gone 5-7 in playoff openers as the Yankees’ top affiliate.

Haase’s Slam Gives Ducks Game 1

Mike Ford's blast gave Trenton an early 2-0 lead. (Photo by Martin Griff)

AKRON, OH — Eric Haase belted a go-ahead grand slam in the fifth inning and the RubberDucks bullpen held the line to take Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series, 6-3, from the Thunder on Tuesday night at Canal Park.

The Thunder grabbed the game’s first runs before Akron could get an at bat as Mike Ford pounded a two-run home run to deep right field in the top of the first inning.

Akron drew the game even in the third on an RBI single from rehabbing Cleveland Indians Catcher Yan Gomes and a fielders choice groundout from Jordan Smith. However, the Thunder took another lead, 3-2, with a pair of doubles in the fourth inning from Mark Payton and Billy McKinney.

The 3-2 lead for the Thunder wouldn’t last past the fifth inning as Akron loaded the bases against the starter Ronald Herrera with one out. Despite eight strikeouts from Ronald, the ‘Ducks forced the Thunder to turn to their bullpen because of a high pitch count from the starter, Herrera.

On the second pitch from Travis HIssong, Eric Haase cracked a grand slam home run to swing the game into the ‘Ducks favor.

From there, Akron starter Michael Peoples found his rhythm and finished seven innings to earn his first postseason victory in 2016. Peoples allowed three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, he struck out a season-high eight batters in the win.

The Thunder had a chance to get back onto the scoreboard in the eighth inning with two on and nobody out, however, David Speer and Cole Sulser combined on a strikeout of Mark Payton and double play ball to snuff out the rally. Sulser completed the five-out save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Billy McKinney led the Thunder offense with a pair of doubles an RBI and a walk on Tuesday night, he matched a franchise record with two doubles in a postseason game. The Thunder managed six extra base hits in the game, one shy of their season-high.

Your Thunder continue wil play Game Two of the series on Wednesday at 6:35pm at Canal Park. RHP Will Carter will go for the Thunder, LHP Rob Kaminsky will start for the RubberDucks. Listen live to Thunder baseball beginning at 6:50pm on 91.3 FM WTSR and online at TrentonThunder.com

Mitchell’s Managerial Work Unmatched in 2016 Eastern League

Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell watches from the dugout during Saturday's  series-clinching Game 4 in Reading. (Photo by Martin Griff)

TRENTON, NJ – Bobby Mitchell, who piloted the Double-A Trenton Thunder to an 87-55 mark and an Eastern League Division Series triumph over the Reading Fightin’ Phils, was not named Eastern League Manager of the Year for 2016.

The 61-year-old Salt Lake City native finished second in the voting for that honor, but he certainly can take personal satisfaction in  doing the best managerial job in the EL this season, piloting the Thunder to both the second-best record in franchise history and the Eastern League Championship Series.

Such baseball honors, and the voting that brings them, are strictly arbitrary. Reality is Mitchell accomplished more with the roster given him than any of his peers, many of whom were superb in their positions themselves.

“I was really lucky in a lot of ways with the group I had this year,” said Mitchell. “Everybody in our clubhouse was always picking each other up, helping each other, never getting too high with success or too low when things got tough.

“As a manager, you don’t always get that.”

Mitchell has had such success before. His work with the Thunder produced his fourth playoff appearance in nine seasons of managing in MILB and a Triple-A Pacific Coast League title with the Salt Lake Bees in 2008. He has that winning managerial and clubhouse style that is a carbon-copy of former Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who won three EL titles on Trenton.

“Bobby has just been great to play for, he and the whole staff,” said Thunder shortstop Tyler Wade. “We really came together as a team and got better.”

Mitchell is always one to praise the work of pitching coach Jose Rosado, who directed an ever-changing pitching staff to league-bests in ERA (3.12), shutouts (15), least amount of home runs allowed (65), strikeouts (1,239) WHIP (1.21) and saves (50). Hitting eoach P.J. Pilittere helped outfielder Dustin Fowler to a season in which he drove in 88 runs, and first baseman Mike Ford to drive in 26 runs in 47 games.

Bullpen coach J.D. Closser handled many former starters who were made relievers and a changing cast as well.

“I can’t credit my coaches enough,” said Mitchell.

That is the way any organization hopes it works, but there were other circumstances that easily could have upset the equilibrium in Trenton.

For instance:

– The 2016 Thunder had 163 transactions this season, yet players moving up were always congratulated and wished well, while their replacements were welcomed in the clubhouse and always seemed to fit in.

– Every team expects promotions, but, during the season, the Thunder saw starters Jordan Montgomery, Dietrich Enns and Brady Lail go to Triple-A Scranton, Vicente Campos traded to Arizona for Tyler Clippard and Chance Adams shut down. Mitchell and his coaches built a new starting rotation with Ronald Herrera, Will Carter, newcomer Justus Sheffield, Caleb Snith and Kyle Haynes for the playoffs after Dan Camarena was also promoted.

– In the bullpen, closer Jonathan Holder, now with the Yankees, went to Scranton, as did Matt Wotherspoon for periods. Tyler Jones, signed out of the Atlanta system for 2016, and J.P. Feyereisen, obtained from Cleveland in the Andrew Miller trade, and Travis Hissong have molded into an outstanding group that can change a game.

– Much of the club’s power, including first baseman Tyler Austin, now with the Yankees, and catcher Kyle Higashioka, now with Scranton, departed. The team played a hustling, aggressive style with an occasional home run helping the cause.

“No doubt pitching and defense has been our strengths, along with how this group has really stuck together,” said Mitchell. “We’re real happy for Austin and Holder with the Yankees, and how Kyle, especially, has contributed in Scranton, We want to see these guys to go up and be successful.”

Mitchell and his staff also integrated youngsters such as third baseman Miguel Andujar, infielder Abitatal Avelino and Ford into the mix as key contributors.

“A lot of first-year guys at this level have really come in and helped us,” said Mitchell.

That’s because Mitchell and his staff have a knack of putting players in situations in which they can succeed.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, and a team which is three wins away from its fourth championship since 2008 has to have exceptional leadership that takes things as they come in perspective.

Which is a major reason why Trenton’s Bobby Mitchell has put together a managerial resume unmatched in the 2016 Eastern League.