After two days of weather interrupted baseball, the Aberdeen IronBirds and Asheville Tourists played a pair of High-A East seven-inning games Thursday at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
The action was doubly delicious for Aberdeen and its fans as the ‘Birds swept both games, in extra innings, with come-from-behind wins.
Aberdeen (46-39) opened with a 3-2 win in eight innings and closed the night with a 4-3 win, also in eight innings. The ‘Birds have won six straight games.
Andrew Daschbach had the game-winning hit in both wins.
In the nightcap, Aberdeen was behind 2-0 in the fourth. Daschbach doubled in J.D. Mundy with the first run and Gunnar Henderson followed with a two-run blast, his fifth, to push the ‘Birds ahead, 3-2.
Asheville added a run in the fifth to pull even and the game went to the eighth inning locked 3-3.
Aberdeen reliever Clayton McGinness took over on the mound. With the International Tiebreaker Rule in play, Asheville’s Justin Dirden opened the inning at second base.
McGinness balked Dirden to third base, but the right-hander bore down to strike out three consecutive batters and keep the game tied.
In the ‘Birds half of the eighth, it didn’t take long to get the win. With Mundy at second base, Daschbach drilled an 0-1 pitch to center for an RBI double. Mundy easily crossed the plate with the winning run.
Daschbach was the lone Aberdeen batter with two hits.
McGinness (2-1) earned the win with his inning of work, while starter Zach Peek (4 IP) and reliever Connor Gillispie (3 IP) both had quality outings. Peek scattered six hits, allowed one walk and two runs. Peek struck out seven. Gillispie allowed three hits, two walks and one run, while striking out two.
In game one, Asheville’s Freudis Nova put his team on top in the fourth with a solo home run. Asheville starting pitcher R.J. Freure was perfect through four innings.
Aberdeen changed all that in the fifth inning.
Henderson worked a seven-pitch, leadoff walk off Freure, who seemed to get rattled a bit. Freure wild pitched Henderson to second, but he seemed to regroup and struck out the next two batters.
Another wild pitch moved Henderson to third and Andrew Martinez continued the inning with a walk.
AJ Graffanino followed with the IronBirds first hit, an RBI single to tie the game 1-1.
Some stellar defense from Henderson at third base in the sixth inning kept the game tied and like the second game, this one needed an eighth inning.
Asheville scored on a wild pitch from Aberdeen pitcher Tyler Burch, but the ‘Birds didn’t seem bothered.
In the bottom of the inning, it was Graffanino again who came through. With Martinez at second Graffanino laced a double to plate Martinez with the tie run.
Craig Lewis then walked and Jordan Westburg grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Lewis out at second and leaving runners on the corners with one out.
Mundy drew an intentional walk to load the bases and Daschbach ripped an 0-2 pitch into left field to plate Graffanino with the winning run.
Burch (2-0) was the winner with an inning of work. Starter Garrett Stallings threw the first five innings. He allowed six hits and one run, while striking out six.
Kade Strowd tossed two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out three.
“Tonight was fun, two clutch wins,” Stallings said. “I’m really starting to have more confidence in my fastball. Setting the tone early in my last two outings has made all four of my pitches look much better. I was attacking the zone well tonight and putting away guys when I needed to.”
Graffanino had two of Aberdeen’s three hits.
The series continues Friday night with a postgame fireworks display. Game time is 7:05 p.m.