Aberdeen IronBirds open season with 11-2 loss

IronBirds drop season opener, 11-2.

A one day wait didn't seem to do the Aberdeen IronBirds any good Tuesday night at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.

With Monday's New York-Penn League season opener rained out, Tuesday served as a replacement and it was all Hudson Valley, which sent the IronBirds to an 11-2 opening night defeat.


The Renegades pounded seven Aberdeen pitchers for 14 hits throughout the game, highlighted by seven early runs and capped by a pair of two-run, ninth-inning home runs.

There were few bright spots for Aberdeen on this night and some came early and the others late.


As expected, Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton made his rehab appearance as the IronBirds starting pitcher.

Britton, who pitched for Aberdeen as a starter in 2007, struck out the first batter he faced. He issued a walk, but got Zac Law to roll into a 4-6-3 double play to end his night.

"I had really, really good movement, which was kind of the issue I'd been fighting, so that was a really big positive," Britton said, moments after throwing the scoreless inning. "I physically feel good, so now it's just about, maybe, playing a little bit better as I go up the levels and get back to Baltimore."

The Ironbirds then got a shot of instant offense. Third baseman Chris Johnson, also in Aberdeen on rehab assignment from Norfolk, belted a two-out, solo home run to give the IronBirds a 1-0 lead.

Hudson Valley rolled from there. Aberdeen pitcher Nick Gruener, taking over on the mound in inning two, was greeted with five hits and four runs.

The third inning didn't get any better for Gruener. Four straight singles and two more runs forced Gruener off the mound.

With Opening Day just a few days away, a number of Aberdeen IronBirds and their coaching staff were on site Thursday at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.

"As the box score indicates, Mr. Gruener didn't fare very well tonight," IronBirds manager Kevin Bradshaw said. "He got hit around. I let him go back out there that second inning, thinking, hopefully he can right the ship and he hadn't pitched in a while."

Max Knutson came on to get the 'Birds out of the inning, but the seventh run charged to Gruener also crossed the plate.

Branden Becker had two of the IronBirds five hits. He singled leading off the fourth inning, but Renegades starter and winner Austin Franklin, struck out the next three batters. He struck out nine over five innings.

"I mean the pitchers tonight were pretty good," Becker (2-4) said. "I tried not to do too much at the plate, I just wanted to get something middle in, mostly middle down the plate, something I could drive."

Becker's second hit, another single, came in the ninth inning, one batter after Jose Paez drilled a solo home run deep to right field for the IronBirds second run.

Ryan Ripken also singled in the ninth, but Tristan Graham was called out on strikes to end the game. It was the 14th strikeout for Aberdeen hitters.


"Paez, he hit that ball hard and Becker, we had a little rally going and that's what you like to see," Bradshaw said. "We ran the bases hard, down the first base line tonight. We did a lot of good things, fundamentally right, and not giving up there at the end of the game, that's always a positive sign."

The IronBirds will head out for their first road trip today. The 'Birds will play three at the Connecticut Tigers and three more at the Staten Island Yankees.

Following a scheduled off day Tuesday, the IronBirds will be back at Ripken Stadium to close the month with three straight against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.

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