For the first time this season, the Aberdeen IronBirds are looking up at the .500 mark.
The ‘Birds fell to 5-6 on the young season Tuesday night after getting edged by visiting Brooklyn (5-5), 7-6, at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
The series will continue Wednesday night with game two of three. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
The big news of Tuesday’s game featured New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard making a rehab start (hamstring) for the Cyclones. Syndergaard went five innings and picked up the win, allowing five hits and three earned runs, while striking out nine.
A few IronBirds seemed unfazed by the major leaguer on the mound. Luke Ringhofer went 2-2 and finished a perfect 3-3 with a walk and two runs scored.
Johnny Rizer had one hit off Syndergaard, but boy, was it a big one. It came with the IronBirds down, 4-1, in the bottom of the fifth.
With Ringhofer on with his second hit, Rizer took Syndergaard deep for his first professional home run. “It was a heck of an experience, something I’ll always remember,” Rizer said. “It being off Noah Syndergaard, one of the best, you can’t ask for anything more. I wasn’t trying to do too, much, but I was sitting fastball after that 1-0 change-up and he threw it right there and I just put a pretty good swing on it and luckily it went over the fence. I knew it was gone off the bat, it felt amazing.”
The blast pulled Aberdeen to within a run, 4-3, but the Cyclones Ranfy Adon hit a two-run shot in the next half inning to push the lead back out to three, 6-3.
Both teams scored single runs in the seventh (7-4 Brooklyn lead), setting up the nail-biting finish in the ninth.
Brooklyn brought on reliever Matt Mullenbach to pitch the ninth, but he couldn’t find the plate often enough and he walked all batters he faced.
On came Luis Silva and he walked the first batter he faced (Toby Welk) to plate Andrew Fregia, who drew the first walk.
Rizer lined out to center for the first out with no advancement from the base runners. Clay Fisher also flew out to center, but deep enough for Jaylen Ferguson to score the sixth run and move pinch runner Juan Montes to third with the tie run and two outs.
Maverick Handley, making his professional debut as a 2019 sixth round selection from Stanford, drove the ball to the wall in right, but Cyclones right fielder Zach Ashford made the catch to end the game.
Welk and Fregia also had hits off Syndergaard and Ferguson also had a hit.
Ryan Conroy (1-1) made the start for Aberdeen and he took the loss with three innings of work. He allowed seven hits and four runs (one earned). He struck out two.
Marlon Constante came on to pitch three innings and set down the first six batters straight. A walk leading off the sixth, was followed by the Adon blast. Constante struck out three in the inning and finished with one hit, two earned runs, a walk and four strikeouts.
Two Aberdeen relievers, Morgan McSweeney and Kyle Martin, both made professional debuts. McSweeney (17th round, Wake Forest) pitched two innings, allowing a hit, walk and earned run. He also struck out one.
Martin (15th round, Fordham) threw one inning. He gave up two hits, but got out the inning clean.