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Aberdeen splits two Friday and four overall with Connecticut

Aberdeen splits two Friday and four overall with Connecticut
Aberdeen teammates give each other a round of high fives as they leave the field after a win in Friday night's first game of the double header against Connecticut at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Playing their third and fourth games in two days, the Aberdeen IronBirds and Connecticut Tigers split a double-header Friday at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.

The "Birds (19-15) took game one, 4-0, but the Tigers (16-18), playing as the New England Lobster Rolls, defeated the Aberdeen Steamed Crabs, 2-1, in the nightcap.

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Friday’s games followed Thursday’s double-header of sorts, with Aberdeen winning the resumption of a game started July 2 and halted twice by rain. The Tigers took the second game.

In game one Friday, three Aberdeen pitchers combined to shut the Tigers out on three hits. Starter James Ryan gave up all three hits in four innings of no-decision work. He walked one and struck out three.

Brian Gonzalez, still rehabbing from Bowie, pitched the next two innings for the win, walking one and striking out three.

Shelton Perkins pitched the final inning. “Not to sound to cliche, but our pitching staff, I’d give a lot of credit to obviously the pitchers and our pitching coach Robbie [Aviles],” Aberdeen field coach Brian Graham said. “Their ERA is among the best in the league. Defensively, pitching, playing defense, manufacturing runs, timely hitting, it’s all the little things you have to do in the minor leagues to win and we’ve been doing that.”

Toby Welk, Johnny Rizer and Joey Ortiz paced the offense, each collecting two hits and an RBI. Andre Fregia had the other RBI. Zach Watson, Kyle Stowers, Andrew Daschbach and Ian Evans scored the Aberdeen runs.

In game two, Aberdeen had few chances and played it right to the end.

Connecticut took a 1-0 lead in the third on a failed pickoff play. Kona Quiggle hit a leadoff single and was wild pitched to second base by Aberdeen starting pitcher Leonardo Rodriguez. Moments later, a pickoff play from Rodriguez to second baseman Fregia failed, when Fregia had the ball glance off his glove.

The speedy Quiggle raced around third and scored as the ball rolled into the outfield.

The Tigers added a run in the sixth which proved large in the end. Eliezer Alfonso opened the inning against reliever Kade Strowd with a single. The next batter, Jake Holton, grounded to Fregia, who had trouble fielding the ball and both he and Alfonso were safe.

Two batters later, Corey Joyce singled in Alfonso with the Tigers second run. Another single loaded the bases with one out, but the 'Birds avoided further damage when Strowd got Jose King to roll into a 4-6-3 double play.

Aberdeen finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. Clay Fisher opened the inning with a base hit. Fregia followed with a single to put runners at the corners. With Stowers batting, Fregia stole second base.

Stowers struck out for the first out, but Welk drove in Fisher with a groundout to second.

Fregia moved to third on the play with the tie run, but Daschbach struck out to end the inning.

Aberdeen also threatened in the bottom of the seventh, the final inning. With two away, Rizer entered as a pinch hitter and doubled to the wall in left-center field.

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Trey Truitt also hit the ball hard, but right at the Tigers second baseman, who bobbled for a moment before throwing Truitt out at first. “Just unlucky, Rizer smoked that ball, Trey smoked that ball, too, just right at 'em,” Welk said. “Five feet left or right and it’s a tie ballgame.”

Rodriguez (0-2) took the loss, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out five. Strowd also allowed four hits and a run (unearned) over two innings.

With the split the 'Birds have still played good baseball, winning baseball, the past two weeks. The 'Birds are 13-4 since July 1.

“Most of us just gelled, I mean there’s like Rizer, Cannon, Ortiz and I, we all came in right after draft up here,” Welk said about the positives from the team.

Thursday split

The Aberdeen IronBirds and Connecticut Tigers finally finished a game that started July 2 and halted twice by rain.

The completion came Thursday on one swing of the bat from Aberdeen outfielder Watson.

The game, which was stopped Wednesday in the bottom of the seventh inning, went to the ninth inning when Watson put the 'Birds in the win column.

Watson stepped in to lead off the bottom of the ninth and promptly homered to left field, lifting the IronBirds to an 4-3 win at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.

Watson and Welk both had three hits in the game that lasted 3:26 with a 2:56 amount of delays over the three days it was played.

Griffin McLarty (1-0) earned the win, tossing two innings on Thursday. He allowed one hit and a walk, while striking out one.

In Thursday’s regularly scheduled game, a seven-inning contest, the 'Birds (18-14) were edged, 3-2, by the Tigers.

Aberdeen jumped ahead in the second on Truitt’s two-run double, scoring both Maverjck Handley and Juan Montes.

Unfortunately, Connecticut scored three runs (two unearned) in the fourth and that was enough for the win.

Aberdeen reliever Jake Lyons (0-2) took the loss. He was tagged with all three runs on one hit and two walks. He stuck out two.

Dan Hammer (13th round, Pittsburgh) threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while striking out five.

Connor Gillispie tossed one inning of scoreless relief, striking out one. Houston Roth (29th round, Mississippi) made the start and worked two innings. He walked three and struck out three.

Andrew Fregia went 3-3 to raise his average to .304. Aberdeen had just six hits.

Looking ahead

Aberdeen was to head to Staten Island Saturday for a three-game series, before returning back to the stadium for six straight, beginning Tuesday. Three with Lowell (July 23-25) and three with Hudson Valley (July 26-28).

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