The Aberdeen IronBirds lost their second straight game at home Thursday but got a fine relief pitching performance from Sander Beck of Severna Park in the 6-3 loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Making his professional debut in Thursday's game, Beck entered in the fourth inning with Aberdeen trailing 3-1 and blanked Hudson Valley over 2-1/3 innings.
Beck, a 33rd round pick in the 2011 draft who decided to play his senior year with the Terrapins and was signed by the Orioles this June as an undrafted free agent, replaced Aberdeen starter Mark Blackmar in the top of the fifth with two outs and a Hudson Valley runner on third. He quickly got out of the jam by coaxing a weak grounder to Joe Velleggia at first.
In his first full pro inning, Beck cruised in the sixth, setting down the first two hitters on strikes, then retiring the side on fly ball to Will Howard in center field.
Beck retired his fifth and sixth straight hitters on a fly ball to right and a strikeout, respectively, in the seventh inning. The hitless streak ended with the next Renegade batter, who shot a 3-1 fastball between first and second base for a single.
Beck was not fazed, rebounding to end the inning with his fourth strikeout. His line for the night was 2-1/3 innings, four strikeouts, zero walks, and one hit allowed.
"I'm very pleased with how it went," Beck said after the contest. "I was able to get ahead of some hitters, and when I got behind in the count I didn't give in and throw something they could drive. [Catcher] Sam Kimmel did a great job behind the plate, calling the game and blocking those sliders that wound up in the dirt. Coming in with two out and somebody in scoring position, you're just trying to get them out any way you can, and trying to keep the ball low in the strike zone. That first guy I faced, I knew he was a big swinger, so I just kept the ball down and was able to get a grounder."
"Sander did a good job, a real good job," Aberdeen manager Gary Allenson said. "He threw strikes. He threw strike one a lot. He might have got a little tired there toward the end, but he finished up good. He spots his fastball well, and he's got a nice little slider that breaks late. He obviously wasn't intimidated by his first pro game. The key was he stayed in his rhythm. We have too many guys down here who will try and throw the ball too hard, and it's ball one, ball two, then guess what's coming to dinner, a fastball. Stay in your rhythm. That's how Greg Maddux won 355 games. It wasn't because he threw hard."
The defeat dropped Aberdeen to 1-3 on the season, with all four games being played against Hudson Valley.
Notes: Aberdeen designated hitter Roberto Ortiz, the only IronBird with multiple hits in the loss, went 3-for-5 with a double and one RBI. Monkton native Velleggia, who had gone 10 at bats without so much as a single after doubling in his first at-bat of the season Tuesday, snapped the hitless streak with a double to left in the eighth. Velleggia would later score Aberdeen's third and final run of the game on Hutter's base hit to right. The IronBirds host the Brooklyn Cyclones for a weekend series at Ripken Stadium, starting Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.