Portland’s Ryan Dent dives to second base to try and tag Trenton’s David Adams. Adams was safe, though, and the Thunder went on to defeat the Sea Dogs in the 11th.
PORTLAND - After threatening to pull off their second walk-off victory in 18 hours, the Sea Dogs instead turned the first game of a scheduled doubleheader into an exciting 11-inning affair interrupted by a passing rain shower Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.
Visiting Trenton wound up with a 6-3 Eastern League baseball victory to end Portland's modest three-game winning streak.
Wet field conditions and the threat of more rain prompted postponement of the second game, resulting in a doubleheader today beginning at 6 p.m.
The Sea Dogs overcame a 3-1 deficit by scoring in the sixth and seventh to force extra innings, then dodged a bullet (back-to-back doubles to open the ninth) before Trenton pushed across three runs in the 11th just as rain began to fall.
After a 25-minute delay, the game resumed and lasted only five minutes longer.
"Our offense was limited, but we scratched and clawed our way back," said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles. "I'm very proud of how they fought back."
Raindrops arrived in the top of the 11th after Trenton loaded the bases with two singles, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk. The Sea Dogs needed a double-play grounder to preserve the tie, and nearly got one.
Zoilo Almonte grounded sharply to Portland second baseman Ryan Dent, but the ball hopped up off Dent's chest and he was only able to get Almonte at first, and just barely.
"We set up for a double play up the middle and pinched in at the corners," Boles said. "Just one of those things. It's a credit to (Dent) to keep that ball in front of him."
That made it 4-3, and David Adams followed with a two-run single that put the game out of reach.
First, however, came sheets of rain, a quick tarp application and the departure of most of a crowd announced at 5,108. When play resumed, the Sea Dogs went quietly. Their only hit in the final four innings was an infield single by Jackie Bradley Jr.
It was Bradley who helped force extra innings.
"We're not giving up," Bradley said. "We're battling until the end."
Trenton had taken a 3-1 lead in the sixth after Melky Mesa sent the first pitch from Sea Dogs reliever Aaron Kurcz into the net above the left-field wall for a three-run homer. Portland starter Drake Britton had given up only three hits and struck out six before leaving with a 1-0 lead.
Bradley singled and scored on a Marquez Smith sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 entering the seventh, generally the final inning of minor-league doubleheaders. Peter Hissey singled to lead off the home seventh and took third when Derrik Gibson doubled to left.
An intentional walk loaded the bases with nobody out and set the stage for dramatics on the order of Saturday night, when Drew Hedman homered to end a 4-3 Sea Dogs victory after they had trailed 3-0 in the eighth.
Instead, a sharp liner to center kept Hissey at third before he scored on Bradley's sacrifice fly to right.
Trenton threatened in the ninth with a pair of long doubles on the first two pitches from Sea Dogs reliever Jason Urquidez, but Luke Murton hesitated near second base on Damon Sublett's drive off the wall in right and only reached third.
"It was a tough ball to read," said Trenton Manager Tony Franklin, who was coaching third base. "There was a lot of topspin on it. Because we didn't score the run, it ended up looking bad on our side."
Urquidez escaped the jam with a pair of infield outs sandwiched around a come-backer that he blocked with help from his bare hand, then shoveled to catcher Dan Butler. The baseball arrived a moment before Murton, who bowled over Butler, still clutching the ball for the out. Showing his respects, Murton retrieved the catcher's mask and handed it to Butler.
"(Butler) did a great job of holding onto that ball," Urquidez said. "I'm not surprised because he's a solid catcher."
The Sea Dogs had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Jeremy Hazelbaker (triple) scored on Smith's two-out single through the shortstop hole. Trenton lefty Vidal Nuno retired the next 14 batters in succession before Bradley singled to start the sixth-inning rally.
With two hits, Bradley is batting .364 in 11 games since being promoted to Double A. On Sunday he twice came close to throwing out a runner at second base from the warning track on what appeared to be a routine double.
"He's a guy who attacks the game," Boles said. "He has a lot to offer."
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
Sea Dog Drake Britton pitches to the Trenton Thunder on Sunday. Britton gave up only three hits and struck out six before leaving with a 1-0 lead. Trenton took the lead in in the sixth with a three-run homer against reliever Aaron Kurtz.