IronBirds hold on for one-run victory Wednesday

The IronBirds are in no way new to close results, with a little less than half of their contests this season decided by just one run, but before Wednesday's 2-1 victory over visiting Batavia, Aberdeen had been winless in one-run ballgames at Ripken Stadium.

In all, the IronBirds have played in 12 one-run games in their 2014 campaign, winning four and losing eight.

"Any time you can get a victory, it's nice," Aberdeen skipper Matt Merullo said. "But to win a close one at home is better. After all those one-run games that we lost at the beginning of the season, it's starting to feel like things are turning around for us. I think we're starting to feel like it's our turn now."

Making the start for Aberdeen in Wednesday's victory was Major League pitcher, and Maryland native, Steve Johnson, who is attempting to work his way back to the Orioles as he rehabilitates an injured shoulder. Through two innings, Johnson held Batavia hitless and issued one walk. He exited the game with Aberdeen leading, 2-0, before the third inning.

"It's always good to have major leagues here with us," Merullo said of his Wednesday-night starter. "Steve is in a different environment here, and he's really working on getting healthy."

Aberdeen's Tanner Murphy kicked off the IronBirds scoring in the bottom of the second, leading off the inning by reaching first on a dropped third strike. Austin Pfeiffer pushed Murphy over to third on a fielder's choice, then stole second base to put two men in scoring position. Jay Gonzalez capitalized with a hard grounder to third that was misplayed by Batavia's infield, and that allowed Aberdeen's two runs to score.

Batavia cut Aberdeen's lead in half with one run in the sixth, but the Aberdeen bullpen held off the visitors for the balance of the game.

Tanner Chleborad (1-0) went two innings out of the bullpen to earn his first win, striking out one and holding Batavia to two hits.

Josh Walker tossed two innings of relief, walking two and allowing one earned run on one hit. Nigel Nootbaar struck out two and allowed one hit over two innings.

Ivan Hernandez earned his first save of the season by tossing a perfect ninth inning for Aberdeen.

With the win, the IronBirds moved to 7-19 for the season.

Seven-run victory

The IronBirds Tuesday road contest with the Staten Island Yankees was largely decided in the fifth inning, when Aberdeen, trailing, 2-0, rallied for seven runs to go ahead for good in what would be a 9-2 victory.

Down by a pair of runs after Staten Island scored once in first and fourth innings, Aberdeen's Austin Pfeiffer led off the top of the fifth with a single. Jay Gonzalez followed with another single and Justin Veile laid down a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by Staten Island, allowing Pfeiffer to score. Austin Anderson put the IronBirds up for good with a two-RBI single, while Hector Veloz and Riley Palmer had back-to-back base hits to load the bases. Jamil Moquete earned an RBI walk, Tanner Murphy followed with and RBI single that made the score 5-2 and Palmer scored the IronBirds sixth run on Steven Wilkerson's RBI groundout to second. Moquete capped the rally, running home from third after Wilkerson got caught in a run-down.

Veloz hit an RBI triple that scored Gonzalez in the top of the sixth, and Moquete scored the game's final run in the seventh on Gonzalez's RBI single to right.

Aberdeen reliever Nik Nowottnick (1-1) earned his first win of the season, going 3-1/3 innings out of the bullpen in which he struck out four, walked one and held Staten Island to a pair of hits without giving up a run.

Stephen Tarpley went 3-2/3 innings in the start, striking out four, walking four and allowing two earned runs on six hits. Derrick Bleeker went the final two innings for Aberdeen, recording two strikeouts, walking one and allowing one hit.

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