Three Trenton pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout Thursday night, as the Thunder blanked the Akron Aeros, 3-0, at Canal Park.
In a match-up of the current division leaders in the Eastern League, and thus a potential championship preview, the Thunder claimed the first game of the four-game weekend series.
The Aeros magic number for clinching the EL West title remained at six. While the Aeros lost to Trenton, second-place Bowie throttled Harrisburg, 17-2. The Aeros hold a 6 ½ game lead over the Baysox with 12 games left in the regular season.
On Thursday, Aeros starter Brett Brach (3-7) pitched well, but found himself on the wrong end of a shutout for the second straight outing. Brach gave up two runs in the second inning, the only two tallies he allowed in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three. Last Saturday, Brach worked seven innings in a 1-0 loss to Reading.
Trenton (74-57) took that 2-0 lead in the second on a lead-off double by Zoilo Almonte. After a walk to Luke Murton, Addison Maruszak singled to right to drive in Almonte. The next hitter, Kevin Mahoney, tapped into a 4-6-3 double play to score Murton from third for a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Aeros (76-54) couldn't solve lefty starter Vidal Nuno, a former Indians farmhand now on the rise in the Yankees chain. Nuno scattered four hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out three. Mahoney, the Thunder second baseman, turned in two stellar defensive plays behind Nuno to rob Aeros batters of potential hits.
The Thunder made it 3-0 with a pair of singles and a wild pitch off Akron reliever Cole Cook in the eighth.
Mark Montgomery and Ryan Pope followed Nuno to complete the whitewash. Montgomery threw the seventh and eighth, and Pope worked the ninth for his fifth save.
The Aeros have been shut out only seven times all season, but five of those have come since July 31st.
Chun Chen was 1-4 in the game, leaving his average at .321, one percentage point off league lead. Jordan Henry had two hits for the third time in his last four games. Matt Lawson went hitless in three at-bats, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.
The Aeros and Thunder will continue the series on Friday night at 7:05. RHP Mikey O'Brien (4-6, 4.62) will start for the Thunder, while RHP Paolo Espino (7-2, 3.05) will make the start for the Aeros.