Heading into last Thursday's contest, the Aberdeen IronBirds, riding out one of the worst first halves in franchise history, were 14-32, but since then they've had something of a turnaround, winning five games against just one loss.
As of Wednesday, Aberdeen was still on the bottom of the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division at 19-33, seven games behind third place Hudson Valley.
Their most recent match-up saw the IronBirds break out of an eight-inning offensive rut, scoring four times in the 10th frame to drop the host-team State College Spikes 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Aberdeen, which had collected just four hits and one run in the opening nine frames, kicked off the first extra inning with a double from Austin Goolsby, who motored over to third when Dudley Leonora followed with a sacrifice bunt, then scored on Adam Davis' double to right. After Kyle Hoppy earned a walk, Davis scored when Martin Serrata lashed a base hit up the middle. Glynn Davis came up sixth and laid down a bunt single that allowed Hoppy to score from third. Mychal Givens took a pitch off his body to load up the bags, and Joe Velleggia earned a two-out walk that pushed Serrata home from third, making the score 4-1.
The IronBirds were quick out of the gate, scoring once in the opening frame when Givens ripped a triple to right that scored Sammie Starr, who had reached base on a one-out single. Through the next eight frames, Aberdeen would manage just two more hits.
State College produced its lone run of the game in third, scoring on Aberdeen starter Tyler Wilson with a walk and a triple. Wilson, the Orioles' 10th-round selection of the 2011 draft, was making his second start with Aberdeen. Over five innings, the 21-year-old righty surrendered just three hits, struck out three and surrendered one walk, but had to settle for a no decision as he was relieved while the game was still tied.
Zach Fowler came out of the bullpen in the sixth and tossed two innings of perfect ball, striking out two hitters along the way.
Angel Cespedes pitched the eighth frame for Aberdeen, and held the Spikes scoreless despite allowing a pair of hits.
Enrico Jimenez (3-1) picked up the victory, pitching a perfect frame in the ninth. Kyle Simon closed out the game for Aberdeen, striking out and surrendering one hit in the bottom of the 10th.
Givens was 2-for-4 with a triple and one RBI, while Glynn Davis, the only other IronBird with more than one hit, was 2-for-5 with one RBI.
Five-game win streak snapped
Aberdeen's string of victories was halted on Tuesday night with a 5-2 road-game loss to the State College squad.
Trailing 5-0 heading into the eighth frame, the IronBirds finally came to life, scoring twice in the frame. Kicking things off was Glynn Davis, who hit a leadoff grounder to the left side of the infield, and reached base safely when the Spikes' third baseman committed an error. Starr came up next and singled to right, moving Davis over to third. With Givens at the plate, the State College hurler attempted to pick Starr off at first, but his throw went wide, allowing Davis to score Aberdeen's first run. Starr, who moved over to third on the error, scored when Givens hit an RBI groundout to first.
State College scored all five of its runs on Aberdeen starter Parker Bridwell (2-5), who was saddled with the loss. Over five innings of work, Bridwell struck out three, walked four, and allowed five earned runs.
The three Aberdeen relievers who followed Bridwell held State College hitless for the balance of the contest. Luis Lebron pitched one frame, striking out two and walking one, while Matt Drummond followed with a one-inning stint in which he allowed one walk. Alex Schmarzo closed out the game with a perfect three-up three-down inning.
Starr and Givens were the only Aberdeen batters with multiple hits, as each went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Davis and Leonora both had one base hit in the loss.
'Birds take fifth straight
The IronBirds extended their season-best winning streak to five games on Monday night, overcoming a pair of deficits to best the visiting Hudson Valley Renegades, 6-4.
"I'm happy with the way they were playing tonight, and to get another win," Aberdeen skipper Leo Gomez said. "We had good pitching. We did a good job of moving the runner over. I'm looking for them to keep playing the way we have over the last five games. They've been scoring the runs when we've needed them, and we've been pitching very well, so if they keep playing like they have, we just want to keep it that way."
Aberdeen's big inning was the seventh, which the two teams entered tied, 3-3. Hoppy was the first IronBird to reach, blasting a leadoff double, and Adam Davis followed with a walk. Starr moved his teammates over one base with a sacrifice bunt, and Hoppy scored what turned out to be the game-winning run when the Renegades committed an error on Givens' grounder to short. After Givens swiped second base to put a pair of men in scoring position, Velleggia cleared the bases, ripping a two-RBI double down the left field line.