Back home off an 4-1 road trip, the Aberdeen IronBirds split a pair of games with Vermont at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
The ‘Birds won big Saturday, 8-2, but dropped Sunday’s game, 6-5.
The rubber game and series ender is set for 7:05 tonight. The 'Birds (34-28) enter the game just 2 games back of Hudson Valley for the McNamara Division title and in a tie with Staten Island, a half game out of the New York Penn League’s wild card playoff spot.
On Sunday, Aberdeen starter Jake Lyons (1-4) just wasn’t as sharp as usual and the Lake Monsters took advantage. Lyons worked four innings, allowing five hits and three runs (two earned). He walked two and struck out two. “First of all, I think Lyons really didn’t look his normal self today, it looked like he was out of sorts a little bit,” Aberdeen manager Kevin Bradshaw said. “He kept the damage down with one run each inning, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Vermont scored single runs in each of its first three at bats. Aberdeen, meanwhile, scored single runs in the second and fourth innings. Dalton Hoiles singled in Kyle Stowers in the second and and in the fourth, Clay Fisher drew a bases loaded walk to bring Toby Welk in to score.
Down 3-2 in the fifth, Aberdeen reliever Marlon Constante came on to pitch two innings. Unfortunately, in his first inning of work, Constante (3H, 3K) was touched for a two-run home run and the Lake Monsters pushed the lead back out to three, 5-2.
Vermont also added a run in the seventh off another reliever, James Ryan. Ryan also pitched two innings, giving up three hits and the run. He struck out one.
Aberdeen made it a game again in the bottom of the seventh with three runs. Fisher reached on an error to open the inning. Maverick Handley singled, as did Adley Rutschman, who collected the RBI with one out.
Welk then singled to load the bases and Andrew Daschbach lined a single to left field to plate both Handley and Rutschman, pulling Aberdeen back to within a run, 6-5.
Stowers then stepped in and drilled a shot right to the shortstop near the bag for an easy inning-ending double play.
The IronBirds were victimized by their own hard hit balls twice more with runners on and no outs.
It started in the second inning. Daschbach (2-3) and Stowers were aboard with singles, with Joey Ortiz at the plate. Ortiz hit a sharp, low liner to second baseman Yerdel Vargas. Vargas snagged the liner just off the dirt for one out. He raced to second for the second and then fired to first for a potential triple play. The throw, though, sailed high and out of play.
It happened again in the fifth. A Mason Janvrin (2-5) single and walk to Rutschman had Aberdeen runners at first and second with no outs. Welk then hit a scorcher, but right at Vargas again, who easily turned the double play.
“We hit, we hit three double play balls, each of those three balls were hit hard and you know, you go five, six feet either direction, those balls get through,” Bradshaw said. “And we score. Baseball’s a game of inches and I just like the fact they hit the ball hard. Those balls were hit hard.”
Aberdeen then went down in order in the eighth and ninth innings, the final five batters by strikeouts.
Homers lead Saturday win
Welk and Stowers both hit home runs to lead Saturday night’s win.
Welk’s, a two-run shot, was his fourth and came in the third inning, while Stowers hit his team leading fifth homer, a solo shot, in the sixth.
Welk, Daschbach, Stowers and Fisher all had two hits in the win.
On the mound, Kevin Magee was sharp again. Magee (4-5) pitched six innings, scattering four hits, four his third straight win and fourth since July 17. Magee struck out two and lowered his ERA to 2.38.
Shelton Perkins threw two innings in relief and he allowed one hit, a home run and both runs. He walked two and struck out three.
Morgan McSweeney threw the final inning, allowing one hit, while striking out one.
The NYPL All-Star Game
Aberdeen will send six players to the All-Star game set for Wednesday night in Staten Island, NY.
Pitchers Ryan Conroy and Leonardo Rodriguez will be joined by position players Stowers (OF), Welk (INF), Andrew Fregia (INF) and Hoiles (OF).
“Actually, I thought we might have more, as far as more pitching. The ERA (league leading 2.51) we have as a team, the jobs everybody has been doing,” Bradshaw said. “Hopefully, they can go up there and represent the IronBirds and do well.”
Fregia, in his first full professional season, is pleased. “You know going into it, I expected a bunch of guys to go, but them choosing me, I can’t be anything but blessed,” Fregia said. “I’m going to make the most of my opportunity up there and represent the IronBirds like I know how to.”