TRENTON, N.J. – The Portland Sea Dogs have the arms to compete with any team in the Eastern League. Getting consistency out of those arms, however, is another story.
One night after highly touted pitching prospect Henry Owens lasted only three-plus innings, Matt Barnes was pulled after he needed 91 pitches to get through four inning Friday night. The Trenton Thunder scored three runs off Barnes, which turned out to be enough in a 3-1 victory in front of 5,241 at Arm & Hammer Park.
The loss drops Portland (63-68) back to five games behind Trenton (68-63) for the second and final playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division.
The majority of the damage against Barnes was self-inflicted. With runners at the corners and two outs in the fourth, Mason Williams hit a dribbler back to the mound. After cleanly fielding the ball, Barnes threw it well out of the reach of first baseman Travis Shaw, allowing two runs to score as Trenton opened a 3-0 cushion.
“It (stinks),” Barnes said. “When it comes down to me making a throw to first base, that’s a (scoreless) fourth and I can go out for the fifth. It’s a one-run game for us instead of a three-run game. It hurts. But it happens, and you just kind of get back after it.”
Shannon Wilkerson hit an RBI single in the sixth off Thunder reliever Danny Burawa, but that’s as close as the Sea Dogs would get.
For the second straight night, Trenton struck first. Barnes allowed a one-out single in the first inning to Ramon Flores, who stole second two batters later. After Kyle Roller walked, Carmen Angelini poked a grounder through the left side to drive home Flores.
The Sea Dogs had several scoring chances against Trenton starter Scottie Allen, who was aided greatly by his defense.
Shaw appeared to have at least tied the game with a long fly ball to center field with a man on second in the second inning, but Williams robbed him with a leaping catch against the wall.
“I didn’t really think it was going all the way (over) the wall,” Williams said. “I want to say it would have probably hit the top of the wall. That’s one of the closest times I’ve had to actually robbing a home run.”
In the fifth, the Sea Dogs had two runners thrown out at the plate, by left fielder Ben Gamel and right fielder Yeral Sanchez.
Wilkerson tried to score from second on a single by Devin Marrero, but catcher Gary Sanchez corralled Gamel’s one-hop throw and applied the tag on Wilkerson’s foot after he appeared to miss the plate with his lead foot.
Garin Cecchini followed with a single to right, and Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles, coaching third, sent Peter Hissey home. But Sanchez uncorked an impressive throw on the fly to easily nail Hissey at the plate.