The Aberdeen IronBirds are in a funk, a one-run loss kind of funk and it continued Monday night at home at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
The ‘Birds (6-11), who were no-hit for five innings, fell to the Connecticut Tigers (7-10), 2-1. It was Aberdeen’s ninth loss in last 11 games and fifth one-run defeat over last seven losses.
“We’ve had a little trouble getting some hits lately,” IronBirds manager Kevin Bradshaw said. “I don’t know if we’re in between, we’re getting so many off-speed pitches that we might be getting off the fastball a little bit, too, much to get to think about hitting that off-speed, that breaking ball, and that’s always a bad sign. You want to stay on the fastball and you want to stay on a fastball that’s down in the zone and we haven’t been doing that.”
Tigers starting pitcher Carson Lance (1-1) baffled Aberdeen hitters for five innings of near perfect pitching. Lance retired the first 11 in a row before Kyle Stowers reached base on an error.
Joey Ortiz (2-4) had the first and only Aberdeen hit against Lance, leading off the sixth with Connecticut ahead, 2-0.
Lance threw six innings. striking out 10.
Aberdeen starter Kevin Magee (0-3) didn’t throw badly, but Connecticut was able to push across single runs in the fourth and fifth innings on six hits. Magee pitched five innings, striking out five.
The IronBirds put two runners on in the seventh, but a 4-6-3 double play took care of that.
The ‘Birds did score in the eighth. Maverick Handley opened the inning with a walk and Ortiz followed with his second single.
Clay Fisher struck out for the first out, but Andrew Fregia hit a single to plate Handley.
The inning continued with Irving Ortega striking out, but Stowers drew a walk to load the bases.
Connecticut went to the bullpen for Zack Hess and he got Toby Welk to fly out to end the inning.
Aberdeen did not go quietly in the ninth. Alex Murphy and Tristan Graham both walked against Hess to begin the inning. Hess, through, buckled down and struck out Handley, Ortiz and pinch hitter Luke Ringhofer to end the game.
“I think in all honesty, it’s a close knit group that we just got together out of nowhere, you’re just now learning guy’s names,” Fregia said. “I think as the season goes on we’ll get stronger as a ball club, especially with the new guys rolling in. Getting around and getting settled in, I guess you would say. As you can see, it takes time and I think we just need to settle in and once we get rolling we’ll get rolling.”
Relievers Jake Lyons (one hit, 2 K’s) and Connor Gillispie (BB, K) threw two innings each of scoreless baseball.
Catcher Handley had a huge game defensively, throwing out all three Connecticut base runners trying to steal second base.
“They tested him tonight with some stolen base attempts and I haven’t seen a release like that, I saw Brandon Inge quite a few times over my career and they were very comparable to a Brandon Inge,” Bradshaw said of Handley’s effort. “Outstanding, not only the release, but how about those throws? Right on the money with something on it. And blocking balls, he’s doing a great job”
A series loss
The IronBirds dropped their third straight series Sunday, falling at Tri-City, 5-3.
The ‘Birds fell behind 2-0 in the third, but with a single run in the fourth and two in the fifth, led 3-2.
The lead. however, could not be held, as Tri-City scored also scored two in the fifth and one in the sixth to win.
Welk (double, run) and Murphy (double, 2 RBIs) both had two hits. Ringhofer and Juan Montes each had hits and runs scored.
Others with a hit each were Johnny Rizer, Fregia, Stowers and Ortega.
Ryan Conroy (1-2) took the loss, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits and a walk over four innings. He struck out five.
Another 10-inning loss
On Saturday at Tri-City, the IronBirds went 10 innings for the third time in four days and they lost for third time, 4-3. The team was out hit, 10-2.
The ‘Birds had a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but the ValleyCats got to Aberdeen closer Marlon Constante (0-1) for the tie run in the ninth and the winning run in the 10th.
Welk and Graham (double, run) had the Aberdeen hits. Fregia and Lenin Rodriguez had RBIs and Ian Evans and Jordan Cannon scored runs.
Leonardo Rodriguez made the start and pitched five innings. He allowed five hits, a walk and two earned runs, while striking out five. Ruben Garcia and James Ryan both threw scoreless innings of relief.