It took 13 innings and a pinch-hit double, but the Aberdeen IronBirds walked-off with a 7-6 win over the Lowell Spinners Tuesday afternoon at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
The win gives the 'Birds a series win and pulls them back to .500 at 12-12, while Lowell (17-6) came in to town the hottest team in the New York-Penn League.
“That was crazy, super pleasing to say the least and we were out of pitching,” IronBirds manager Kevin Bradshaw said. “I got to take my hat off for the boys, they just kept fighting and fighting and there were some good plays made and there were some bad plays at times, but we finally pulled one out and that was big for our confidence.”
In the bottom of the 13th, down 6-5, the IronBirds went to work. They had matched the Spinners run-for-run in the 10th (1-1), 11th (1-1) and 12th (2-2) innings to have the chance in the 13th.
Per Minor League Baseball rules, all extra innings begin with a runner at second base; the last batter of the previous inning when final out was recorded.
So, with Zach Watson at second, Austin Hays stepped in, only to be drilled with a fastball to the shoulder. Luke Ringhofer then sacrificed both runners up a base and Toby Welk (3-5), up 3-0 in the count, drew an intentional walk to load the bases with one out.
Andrew Fregia, who hit the ball hard and deep three times Tuesday, went down on strikes for the second out.
On comes Kyle Stowers to pinch hit. Stowers smacked the first pitch he saw from Spinners pitcher Jose Larez, deep to right field. Spinners fielder Juan Carlos Abreu appeared to have a bead on it, but the ball sailed just out of his reach and the celebration was on.
Watson jogged home from third and Hays raced home with the winning run and the team chased after Stowers.
“It makes you feel like, because you didn’t play the whole game, it makes it feel like a good day,” Stowers said of his heroics. “When you come in and pinch hit, kind of nothing to lose, but the same time how your at-bat goes, kind of how you feel like your day went. They’re definitely tough situations, I know it sounds cheesy, but I got a god pitch to hit and just didn’t miss it. It definitely feels good to get out with a win after a long game.”
The 'Birds had stayed alive with clutch hits in the previous three innings. In the 12th, Fregia scored on a wild pitch and Juan Montes scored on Watson’s two-out, RBI single. Dalton Hoiles tried to score the winning run, but he was called out at the plate.
In the 11th, Welk’s two-out, RBI single scored Watson and in the 10th, Hoiles scored as Clay Fisher grounded into an 6-4-3 double play.
Aberdeen had taken a 1-0 lead in the second on an Lenin Rodriguez (2-4) two-out, RBI single, but the Spinners tied the game in the fifth on Nick Northcut’s solo home run.
That was the only hit Aberdeen starter Leonardo Rodriguez allowed over five innings of solid pitching. Rodriguez fanned eight and he set down the first 13 batters he faced.
Bradshaw praised the effort. “It was outstanding and we had a rehab [Brian Gonzalez] guy that was supposed to go three innings today and that’s the only reason he came out of the game,” Bradshaw said.
Gonzalez worked two innings, both scoreless. He allowed two hits, including a leadoff triple, and a walk, while striking out four.
James Ryan pitched three innings, allowing two hits and an unearned run. He struck out three.
Marion Constante (1-1) pitched the final three innings for the win. He allowed four hits, two walks and four runs (one earned), while striking out four.
The 'Birds travel to West Virginia (13-10) to battle with the Black Bears Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.