How do you close out your most successful regular season to date? With win, of course, and that is just what the playoff-bound Aberdeen IronBirds (40-32) did on Wednesday night, as they topped visiting Lowell, 5-4.
In their first playoff appearance on Friday night, the McNamara Division champion IronBirds are slated to host the Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York-Penn League semifinals. That game starts at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.
In Wednesday's victory, Trey Mancini, who came into the game with 82 hits on the season, slapped out a pair of singles to set a new, single-season IronBirds' hitting record, surpassing Kip Schutz record of 83 hits set in 2010.
Prior to the game, Mancini, the Baltimore Orioles' eighth-round pick in this year's free agent draft, was named Aberdeen's 2013 Most Valuable Player. The 21-year-old first baseman went 2-for-3 in Wednesday's contest.
Supplying the majority of the IronBirds offensive firepower was Rodarsy Ledesma, who went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and two runs scored. The round-tripper was Ledesma's first on the season.
Jared Breen went 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run scored, while teammate Tanner Rust was 1-for-4 with one RBI.
Reliever Dylan Rheault, one six IronBird hurlers to make it into the game, picked up the win, improving his record to 1-2 on the year. Through 1-1/3 innings, Rheault struck out one, walked one and held Lowell hitless.
Closer Donnie Hart allowed one run on one hit in the ninth inning, but closed the door before Lowell could tie the game to earn his fifth save of the year.
Hammel tosses four
The playoff-bound Aberdeen IronBirds (39-32) added another victory to their season total on Tuesday night, beating visiting Lowell, 8-7.
The Baltimore Orioles' Jason Hammel, who been on the disabled list with a right flexor muscle strain since July 28, made the start for the IronBirds as part of a rehab assignment. Over four innings, Hammel struck out two, walked one and allowed one earned run on three hits, but he did not factor in the decision.
Austin Urban (3-5) earned the win with a five-inning relief appearance. During his stint on the mound, Urban struck out four, walked one and surrendered one earned run on seven hits.
Leading the IronBirds offense were Scott Kalush and Manny Hernandez, who each cracked a three-run homer. Hernandez hit his in the first, while Kalush's came in the sixth. The respective round-tripper were each player's second of the 2013 season.
Hernandez finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Kalush was 1-for-2 with two runs. Federico Castagnini was 2-for-3 with a triple and one run.
The IronBirds earned their first post-season trip in club history on Monday night by clinching the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division title with a win over Lowell.