IronBirds lead briefly but fall to Staten Island Wednesday night

IronBirds can't get over the .500 hump after loss Wednesday to Staten Island

The IronBirds failed in their first attempt to climb above .500 for the season, falling to the visiting Staten Island Yankees, 5-3, in the first of a three-game series at Ripken Stadium Wednesday night.

The Yankees drew first blood with a two-spot in the top of the second, but the IronBirds answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the third and then grabbed the lead with a single run in the fifth.

The Aberdeen lead was short-lived, however, as the Yankees notched three runs in the top of the sixth, taking over for good as neither team would score the rest of the way.

Drew Turbin had the hot bat for Aberdeen, driving in all three runs, including a run-scoring ground-out in the fifth that scored Ricardo Andujar who had tripled and gave IronBirds their brief lead.

The Yankees were paced by Jhalen Jackson, who smacked a two-run homer in the second and doubled in the run that tied the game in the sixth. Jackson then scored what would prove to be the winning run when the next Yankee batter, Drew Bridges, doubled him home. Zack Zehner delivered an insurance run with an RBI single.

Both teams had their hitting shoes on, combining for 20 hits, 11 by the Yankees and nine by the IronBirds.

Francisco Jimenez took the loss for Aberdeen, falling to 1-3 on the season. Matt Borens picked up the win for Staten Island, with Josh Roeder picking up his second save.

Wednesday's loss came just 48 hours after Aberdeen had evened its season record after completing a three-game sweep of Mahoning Valley in Ohio Monday night.

Stars come out

Despite Wednesday's loss, the night was still an eventful one for the Ripken Stadium faithful. Former Orioles great Al Bumbry threw out the game's ceremonial first pitch, as the IronBirds honored O.J. Brigance as one of their Hometown Heroes.

The IronBirds' Hometown Hero program recognizes a person in the Baltimore-area who is considered to be a hero by the fans. Nominations are accepted throughout the year and voted on by the fans on the IronBirds website, according to the team. Winners are honored on the field before the game and get to take the line-up card to home plate with the manager.

Brigance handled the line-up card duties, sharing a few laughs with the umpires and managers and posing for pictures with the Orioles Bird. Bumbry then stepped up to the mound and delivered the first pitch.

Brigance, who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and later became a team executive, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2007 and has become a fighting face of the progressive neurodegenerative disease in the eight years since.

Brigance and his wife, Chanda, created a foundation called Brigance Brigade to help raise funds and awareness about ALS throughout the country. While the foundation's ultimate goal is a world without ALS, their mission until a cure is found is to help in any way possible.

The foundation has become a place to turn for answers after a diagnosis and financial assistance for those who may not be able to afford necessary treatments or equipment, the IronBirds noted in announcing the honor for Brigance, who has made a number of appearances in Harford County to raise awareness of ALS.

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