Aberdeen starter Sebastian Vader (3-3) nearly went the distance Wednesday night against Mahoning Valley at Ripken Stadium, tossing 8-1/3 shutout innings before being pulled in favor of reliever Donnie Hart, who retired the final two hitters to seal a 2-0 victory for the IronBirds.
Vader, who has started more games (9) and pitched more innings (54-1/3) than any IronBirds hurler this season, struck out two, walked one and held Mahoning Valley to six hits.
Two of the visitors' hits came in the top of the first, which ended with one of the rarest plays in baseball, and the first of its kind in the Aberdeen team's history. The leadoff hitter laid down a bunt single, and the next man up rapped one of Vader's offerings to right for a base hit. With two men on and nobody out, the third Mahoning Valley batter lined a hard pitch directly at Vader, who snagged the ball and threw to Jeff Kemp at second, doubling off the lead runner. Kemp got off a quick throw to Trey Mancini at first before the runner could get back to the bag, and the IronBirds had completed the first triple play in club history.
Over the next 7-1/3 innings, Vader only allowed one runner past second base.
Hart, who earned his first save of the season, struck out the first hitter he faced in the ninth, then ended the game of a fly out to right field.
Steve Clevenger went 2-for-4 with one RBI, while Mancini, the only other IronBird with multiple hits, was 2-for-4 with one run scored. Tanner Rust had one run for Aberdeen.
The victory pushed Aberdeen to 21-21 for the season.
The Aberdeen IronBirds, home from the road after a four-game trip that started Friday, were welcomed back to Ripken Stadium with a tough loss, 3-1, Tuesday to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Trailing in the bottom of the eighth, 3-0, the IronBirds got their lone run of the contest when Sam Kimmel poked a single that scored Conor Bierfieldt.
Aberdeen (20-21) had just one batter with multiple hits, Steve Clevenger, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
IronBirds starter Steven Brault (1-1) allowed two earned runs on two hits, struck out three and didn't issue a walk, but was still saddled with the loss.
Reliever Dylan Rheault worked four innings, striking out four, walking one and holding the Scrappers to a pair of hits.
Nick Cunningham allowed one earned run on two hits, struck out one and surrendered zero walks in a two-inning relief stint.