YMLN - Almost Perfection

Graham Stoneburner was really impressive

TAMPA, FL - It took several pitchers, including some big leaguers, but the Trenton Thunder came oh-so close to throwing a perfect game in their 4-0 defeat over the Pittsburgh Pirates' Double-A affiliate on Saturday.

  • The Thunder had a few relievers either going to be big league bullpen features this season or at least vying to become one pitching for them on Saturday. Shawn Kelley [1 IP, 3 K's], Matt Thornton [1 IP, 1 K], and Preston Claiborne [1 IP, 1 K] each pitched perfect frames for Trenton, as did Dellin Betances and Cesar Cabral. Betances, sitting mostly 93-94 mph, struck out one and threw a ton of strikes. And Cabral, who struck out two in his one inning, was flat-out dominant.

  • Catcher John Ryan Murphy was sent over from big league camp to catch the big leaguers and batted second every inning to get more at-bats in. He went 2-5 with a pair of doubles -- one down the left field line and the other over the centerfielder's head -- drove home a run, scored a run, and struck out. He looked very good at the plate.

    Trenton Starting Lineup: Ben Gamel, Zach Wilson, Rob Refsnyder, Taylor Dugas, Bubba Jones, Jordan Barnes, John Murphy, and Isaias Tejeda [and John Ryan Murphy].

  • While it was expected that the slew of relievers over from big league camp would handcuff the Pirate hitters, it was right-hander Graham Stoneburner that looked equally impressive. Sitting mostly 90 mph and showcasing a plus changeup and vastly improved slider, he pitched 3 1/3 perfect innings and struck out three. His changeup in particular was fantastic.

  • Outfielder Ben Gamel went 3-5 in the victory, including a booming double over the right fielder's head and scored on a Zach Wilson [2-5, 2B, 3B, run, K] RBI double to nearly the exact same spot. The only blemish for Gamel was getting picked off first base after singling in his final at-bat of the game.

  • Second baseman Rob Refsnyder, who appears to be a good 10-15 pounds stronger this Spring Training, hit the ball hard four of the five times he stepped to the plate [he walked once]. He had just one hit to show for it but he was hitting seeds all day long.

  • Outfielder Taylor Dugas did pretty much the exact same thing as Refsnyder, hitting the ball hard all four times he batted and having just one hit to show for his efforts. As always, he was really working each count too.

  • Shortstop John Murphy [1-4, RBI, K] was the only other player in the starting lineup to get a hit, and both Yeral Sanchez [1-2] and Rob Segedin [1-2] each came off of the bench to collect base knocks. Segedin in particular though was really stinging the ball. Aside from his hard single to centerfield, he lined out very sharply to the Pirates' shortstop who made a great leaping play to rob him of a potential double into the alley.

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