The Aberdeen IronBirds opened their 2018 season Friday night in Aberdeen, but unfortunately the home team failed to score any runs and lost the opener, 4-0, to the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The two teams will be back at it Saturday night in game two of the three-game New York Penn League series. Game time at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium is 6:05 p.m.
The game followed a pretty low-key opening night ceremony. Several Harford County politicians stood in a semi-circle behind home plate and both teams were introduced by running onto the field through hand slaps from boys and girls from Belcamp Rec Baseball.
Despite the loss, many of the announced 5,827 fans enjoyed the postgame fireworks that will follow all Friday night home games throughout the season.
“I mean it went great as far as just seeing a really good start out if [Victor] Romero and we saw some good things out of some players that we were trying to figure out who they were and what they might be like,” IronBirds manager Kyle Moore said. “Saw some guys swing the bat really well, obviously you want to win. We walked a few guys, I’d like to not see.”
It wasn’t a walk, though, that put Hudson Valley on the scoreboard. Romero struck out the first two batters of the game and then got Trey Hair to swing and miss, which resulted in Hair losing his grip on the bat. The bat made its way safely into the stands, but not returned to Hair.
That didn’t seem to matter. With a new bat in hand, Hair (2-4) drove the ball over the wall, just to the right of the 404-foot mark in center field.
“I didn’t think he had a chance in the world to hit the homer right there. He’s looking in our dugout, looking for his bat and I’m thinking, this guy’s done,” Moore said. “Then he pops a homer, so good for him for focusing, but that was a little bit of a mistake. I thought we threw a 2-2 breaking ball for a ball down and followed it with a fastball, which never really works out for you. It was the only mistake he [Romero] made all night.”
Romero pitched five innings, allowing three hits and the one run, while striking out three.
The IronBirds tried to even the score in their first at bat, but a fine defensive play by Renegades left fielder Bryce Brown erased the scoring chance.
Jake Ring, in Aberdeen on rehab assignment from Frederick, drew a one-out walk. With two outs, JC Escarra singled. Robert Neustrom, a 2018 draft pick, also singled, but Ring was thrown out at the plate on the nice throw from Brown.
“We put some hits together, but that’s just baseball,” Escarra said. “They tracked some good balls in the outfield that didn’t get down. Like I said it’s baseball, they hit some that did get down and that was the outcome.”
The ‘Birds had very few other real chances. Ring singled with two away in the third and Luke Ringhofer and Adam Hall had back-to-back, two-out singles in the eighth. That was it for Aberdeen base runners.
The IronBirds went down in order in six of their nine at bats.
Zach Matson tossed a scoreless inning in relief for Aberdeen, but Josh Keaton wasn’t so lucky. Keaton issued a leadoff walk in the seventh and then gave up a RBI double to Chris Betts and a two-out RBI single to Erik Ostberg.
Ruben Garcia pitched the final two innings for Aberdeen. A one-out walk and another two-out, RBI single by Ostberg (2-4) in the ninth ended the scoring.
Michael Smith also had two hits for the Renegades, who out-hit Aberdeen, 7-5.
Easton McGee pitched five innings of three-hit and scoreless baseball for the win.
“It was fun, I heard about how many people show up to these games and it was true,” Escarra said. “This place was packed. I just wish we would have done more, you know, at lest score some runs. I mean, it’s just the first game, first of many, so we’ll get a groove.”
Reach Randy McRoberts on twitter. @aegissports