On a night honoring team owner, Cal Ripken, Jr., the Aberdeen IronBirds dropped their sixth straight New York-Penn League game.
The ‘Birds (13-21) fell 2-1 to the Connecticut Tigers at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. The ‘Birds are 2-8 over their last 10.
The teams are scheduled to play game two Saturday, a night celebrating the 1983 World Series won by parent club, the Baltimore Orioles. Game time is 6:05 p.m.
The honoring of Ripken was based on the end of his record consecutive games played streak at 2,632 games. It wasn’t in July in 1998, rather September, but on ten 20th of that month.
Ripken, after tossing a first pitch, greeted the crowd with a few words. The ‘Ironman’ thanked the fans for coming out to help reminisce the streak. He also joked about some new facial hair, saying with a chuckle, “It’s the only place I can grow hair anymore.”
In between innings later in the game, videos were played in the half innings of memorable Ripken moments. Like his 3,000 hit; Cal and brother Billy turning a double play; and the night Cal broke the Lou Gehrig streak at 2,131. He labeled that as an “overwhelming feeling” while interviewed in the opposite half inning by IronBirds General Manager Matt Slatus.
The video board also highlighted the 1983 Orioles Word Series win and Cal, prior to the fireworks, made a modified lap inside Ripken Stadium. Cal walked along the wall and greeted as many as he could.
As for the game, Aberdeen fell behind 1-0 in the second. IronBirds starter Willie Rios, who pitched five solid innings struggled early on. He got out of a jam in the first inning after a walk, balk and hit batter.
In the second, two walks and an error loaded the bases. Rios got Clark Brinkman to roll into a 5-4-3 double play, but the run crossed the plate.
Rios allowed just one hit, but walked three and hit the one batter. He also struck out three.
“I came in off the last start, I had the injury to the ankle, so it was one of those things, trying to get back into a groove,” Rios said. “Working on mechanics, finally was able to settle in and my teammates made some big plays behind me, turned double plays when I needed them.”
Rios took a shot off his ankle in his last start at Brooklyn.
Aberdeen trailed 1-0 into the bottom of the third, but drew even on pair of hits.
Irving Ortega singled to leadoff the inning. Alexis Torres then roped a RBI triple to deep right field, plating Ortega with the tie run.
Ortega (2-3) also singled, leading off the fifth, but he was caught stealing when picked off first.
The ‘Birds had two hits in the sixth inning. Willy Yahn singled and stole second and Cody Roberts also singled, with one out putting runners on the corners with one out.
Jaylen Ferguson grounded to third and though he appeared safe at first, the Tigers completed a 5-4-3 double play to cancel out Yahn’s run.
The Tigers went ahead in the ninth off reliever Diogenes Almengo (0-2). Sam McMillan walked with one out and was wild pitched to second. Jeremiah Burks then hit an infield single into the hole between first and second.
Torres fielded the ball, but his throw to Almengo covering first was errant. The error allowed McMillan to score easily from third.
Roberts, who led the ‘Birds with three hits, picked up his third with one out in the ninth, but pinch hitters Robert Neustrom (flyout) and Robbie Thorburn (groundout) were retired by closer Yaya Chentouf, who earned his sixth save.
“We just gotta string together, that’s the big thing. We have a couple of guys in the lineup that are hitting pretty well. I’ve been cold for awhile, got a couple hits tonight, so right now it’s just stringing together hits,” Roberts said. “We’re all coming out here, trying to get better each day and compete best as we can. If we do that, we will continue to play better and hopefully win more games, but I don’t think anybody’s pressing right now.”