A Sunday loss and a Monday rainout were not the best ways for the IronBirds to start a new week.
But those two evenings aside, the Aberdeen club, which plodded through its worst start in team history through June and early July, is finding ways to win ball games, taking six straight victories from Monday through Saturday.
A 5-3 loss on Sunday snapped the winning streak, and thunderstorms hovering over Aberdeen ended the IronBirds' series closer with Auburn before it began.
The Monday game will not be made up, the IronBirds front office announced after the contest was called off around 9 p.m., after more thunderstorms passed through Aberdeen and the rest of Harford County between late afternoon and early evening.
"The players have been working hard every single day," Aberdeen skipper Matt Merullo said earlier during his team's six-game win streak. "They've been working in the batting cages, working on their swings with the coaches here. And, what's important, they didn't start panicking when we weren't getting the hits we needed. They played game by game, and things started to turn around a little bit for us."
Through Monday's rainout, the IronBirds are sitting at 10-20 on the season.
Win streak ended
The IronBirds, who came into Sunday's game at Ripken Stadium having won their last six matchups, watched their victory streak come to a halt with a 5-3 loss to the Auburn Doubledays.
Auburn posted a pair of runs in the top of the first, then went ahead, 3-1 with another run in the fifth. The IronBirds scored once in the home half of the fifth, while Auburn answered in the next half inning with its final two tallies. The hosts scored once in the bottom of the sixth, and once more in the bottom of the eighth, but could get no closer than two runs.
Making his second rehab start with the IronBirds since joining the team last week, Maryland native and major league pitcher Steven Johnson (0-1) had to settle for the loss, as he allowed two earned runs on two hits, struck out two and walked two over three innings of work.
Reliever Augey Bill went three innings, striking out two, walking one and allowing three earned runs on five hits. Nik Nowottnick struck out one, walked two and held Auburn hitless for two innings, while Stefan Crichton tossed one perfect inning out of the bullpen.
Oswill Lartiguez, one of two IronBirds with multiple hits, was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and a walk.
"Lartiguez is one of the players I think we're going to see a lot out of," Merullo said prior to Saturday's victory. "He's a classic outfielder, he's got a good arm and he can move. He's got a really nice swing, too. He might be one of those players who doesn't know just how good he is."
Riley Palmer was 1-for-2 with a home run, his first of the season, and two runs scored. Stephen Wilkerson was 2-for-4 with one RBI, while Jamil Moquete was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple. Austin Pfeiffer was 1-for-4 with one run.
'Birds battle for sixth straight
As with their previous night's victory, the Aberdeen IronBirds came from behind to beat visiting Batavia, 6-1, on Saturday night and extend their winning streak to a season-best six games.
Aberdeen starter John Means held Batavia scoreless through the first three innings, striking out one and surrendering one hit before exiting the game.
Batavia went ahead in the top of the fourth, piecing together three, two-out singles off reliever Matt Trowbridge for one run.
Aberdeen left fielder Oswill Lartiguez kicked off the game-tying rally in the bottom of the fifth, earning a one-out walk, then speeding over to third on Tanner Murphy's single to right field. With Steve Wilkerson at the plate, Batavia's pitcher uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Lartiguez to motor home and knot the contest, 1-1.
Justin Viele led off Aberdeen's half of the sixth with a walk, which was followed by back-to-back singles from Austin Anderson and Alex Murphy, the latter of whom drove Viele home for the go-ahead run. Hector Veloz lofted a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Anderson to tag up and score from third, but Murphy was thrown out trying to reach second for a double-play. Lartiguez kept the rally afloat with a single to right and later scored his team's fourth run on an RBI double by Tanner Murphy. Wilkerson capped the five-run outburst with a two-run shot over the right field fence, his first round-tripper of the season.