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Baltimore Sun

IronBirds lose seven straight, tie franchise record for most season losses

Dudley Leonora catches an infield fly during Wednesday night's game against the Valley Cats.

Having lost seven straight games since last Thursday, the Aberdeen IronBirds are quickly sliding toward the worst season in the club's 10-year history.

The IronBirds made two dubious marks Wednesday evening, suffering their worst loss of the season, 16-1, to visiting Tri-City, and tied a franchise record for losses in a season with 48.

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The defeat dropped Aberdeen to 22-48 on the year, which puts the IronBirds in the cellar of the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division, 11.5 games behind third-place Hudson Valley. The only other IronBirds team to lose as many games in one season prior was the 2005 squad, which finished 27-48. With four games remaining, Aberdeen must win out to avoid being the franchise's losingest team.

Aberdeen's worst defeat before Wednesday's was a 15-1 loss to Hudson Valley on July 3.

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Trailing, 13-0, in the seventh, the IronBirds put together their lone scoring rally. Dudley Leonora started the outburst by reaching on an infield error, but he was forced on Austin Knight's fielder's choice. Knight's at-bat was followed by Glynn Davis' base on balls, and the next batter, Martin Serrata, moved Knight over to third on another fielder's choice. Mychal Givens came to the plate with two outs, and drove Knight home with a single to right field, making the score, 13-1.

The Valleycats scored three more runs in the top of the ninth to cap the evening's scoring.

After a scoreless first, Aberdeen starter Angel Cespedes allowed a leadoff homer in the second, then watched as Tri-City scored its second run on a fielding error and a wild pitch.

Cespedes would get through the third and fourth frames having surrendered one single, but ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing a one-out walk, sending a pickoff attempt into the crowd, and serving up an RBI double before being lifted. Through 4-1/3 innings, Cespedes (1-4) was charged with four earned runs on four hits, struck out one and walked two in the loss.

Zach Petersime came out of the bullpen to close the fifth, but Tri-City posted three singles and three runs before he could get the IronBirds out of the inning.

The Valleycats put up five more runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

Petersime lasted 2/3 of an inning, allowing five earned runs on five hits, striking out one and allowing one walk.

Matt Taylor tossed two innings of relief, surrendering four hits and three earned runs, striking out one and issuing zero walks. Jose Nivar came on when Taylor was yanked and went 1-1/3 innings in which he allowed three earned runs, two hits and three walks, while racking up three strikeouts.

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Aberdeen's lone pitcher with a scoreless stint on the mound was Travis Strong, who went 2/3 of an inning, striking out one and allowing one hit.

Givens was the only IronBirds batter with multiple hits, going 3-for-4 with three singles and one RBI.

Sixth straight loss

The IronBirds were beaten for the sixth straight time on Tuesday night, dropping the first contest of the three-game homestand with Tri-City, 4-1.

With the hosts down 1-0 in the third frame, the Aberdeen bats, which had not yet rendered a hit, came awake when Leonora smacked a one-out single to left. One out later Davis moved Leonora over to second with a base hit into right, and Knight followed with another single, this one driving Leonora all the way home for Aberdeen's lone run. Unfortunately for Aberdeen, the lineup would go hitless for the balance of the game.

The Valleycats scored what would be the winning run in the top of the fourth, then remained silent for the next three frames. It wasn't until the final two frames the visitors padded their lead by a pair of tallies, scoring once in both the eighth and ninth innings.

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Though he allowed just two hits and one earned run over five innings, Aberdeen starter Jose Mota (1-4) had to settle for the loss. During his stint on the mound, Mota struck out two and walked a pair of hitters.

Zach Fowler came on in the sixth and tossed three innings of one-hit ball, allowing one earned run, striking out three and issuing no walks. Luis Lebron closed out the game for Aberdeen, surrendering one run on one hit, striking out two and allowing one base on balls.

Swept in twin bill

The IronBirds were beaten in both ends of Monday's double-header with the host-team Staten Island Yankees.

Both of Monday's games were shortened to seven innings.

The second game of the twin bill saw all scoring done in one inning, but, unfortunately for Aberdeen, all of it was done by the Yankees, who rallied for five tallies in the fourth frame to take a 5-0 victory.

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Making his first start of the season after serving as a reliever for the majority of the IronBirds 2011 campaign, Alex Schmarzo looked fine through the first three frames, allowing just one single and striking out a pair of hitters. It was in the fourth frame that the Aberdeen starter ran into trouble, as Staten Island kicked off the inning with three straight singles, the last of which drove in the game's first run.

Schmarzo was replaced by Travis Strong, who surrendered an RBI single, walked a hitter, got the inning's first out on a fly ball, and pushed the third run across by plunking a batter with the bases loaded before being pulled.

Aberdeen's Enrico Jimenez got Aberdeen out of the inning, but not before two more runs were scored on an RBI groundout and an infield error.

Schmarzo (0-2) took the loss, going four innings in which he was charged with three earned runs on four hits, struck out three and allowed no walks.

In their first match-up, the IronBirds squandered a three-run lead, allowing the Yankees to scramble back to drop their guests 4-3.

The IronBirds saw the game open with Davis smacking a leadoff single to center, which was followed by Serrata's sacrifice bunt. Davis moved over to third when the final pitch of Givens' base on balls got by the catcher, then scored when the Yankee hurler uncorked a wild one.

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With one down in the third, Joe Velleggia sparked a one-run rally, driving a single up the middle. Wynston Sawyer came up next and hit a line-drive base hit to left, and Connor Narron followed with a walk to load the bases. Knight drove Velleggia home with a single to center, but the inning ended when Leonora hit into a bases-loaded 6-4-3 double play.

In the visitors' half of the fourth, Kyle Hoppy got things moving with a leadoff double, and was moved over to third on Davis' sacrifice bunt. Mychal Givens earned a two-out walk to put men at the corners, then, with Velleggia at the plate, broke for second base. Though he was caught in a run down, Givens' attempted steal gave Hoppy enough time to swipe home, making the score 3-0.

Staten Island scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth, added one more in the following frame, then scored twice in the sixth to seal up the victory.

Tyler Wilson made the start for Aberdeen and lasted five innings, striking out five, walking two and allowing two earned runs on three hits.

Taking the loss was reliever Devin Jones (2-4), who surrendered two runs, one of which was earned, struck out one and allowed three hits over one inning of work.

'Birds lose 8-4

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The IronBirds battled the visiting Staten Island Yankees Friday, but it wasn't enough as Aberdeen lost its third straight.

"It was tough," IronBirds manager Leo Gomez said. "We missed that routine double play in the first, that caused a couple runs, and it cost us. We failed a couple times with men on third base and less than two outs. You have to get that man home if you want to win some ballgames. Tonight, they tried too hard with men on third base. Last night we didn't really have any chances, but tonight there was three or four times we had a chance, where men were at third with less than two out. Pretty much, that's what happened tonight, why we didn't win."

Trailing, 7-3, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Aberdeen scored once and brought the tying run to the plate, but didn't get closer than three runs. After Austin Knight struck out to start the inning, Givens got on base via a walk. Velleggia came up next and reached first when his grounder to third was misplayed. Aberdeen's fourth hitter, Sawyer, hit into a fielder's choice that forced Velleggia at second. With runners at the corners, Narron hit a high bouncer to the right side of the infield. The Yankees second baseman charged in with his glove low, but the ball rolled up his arm and into the outfield, allowing Givens to score from third. Ryan Zrenda then came to the plate as the tying run, but he hit into an inning-ending force out to first.

Already trailing, 4-0, in the second, the IronBirds cut the visitors' lead in half with a two-run outburst. Velleggia began the frame with a leadoff walk, Sawyer followed with a single and Narron loaded the bags with a base knock up the middle. Velleggia scored on Zrenda's groundout to first, which moved Sawyer to third. Sawyer scored Aberdeen's second run when Leonora hit an RBI groundout to third. Representing the tying run, Serrata went down swinging to end the inning.

Just two runs behind their guests, Aberdeen started the home half of the third with a two-bagger to left courtesy of Davis. After Knight grounded out to third, Givens singled to left, moving Davis to third. Velleggia brought Davis home in short order, bashing an RBI single to center, making the score 4-3.

Making his second start of the season, Aberdeen's Angel Cespedes was knocked around for two runs in the opening frame, allowed another two in the second, then surrendered one final tally before being relieved in the fourth. Over 3-2/3 innings, Cespedes was charged with three earned runs on seven hits, struck out two hitters and walked three.

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Zach Petersime came on in the fourth and lasted 2-2/3 frames, striking out three, walking one and allowing one earned run on five hits. Matt Taylor tossed 2-2/3 innings of relief for Aberdeen, holding Staten Island to one earned run on one hit, striking out three and walking one hitter.

Velleggia went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI in the loss, while Narron was 2-for-3 with a walk.

Aberdeen pounded 10-2

The IronBirds failed to score until the bottom of the ninth Thursday night at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen and lost their second straight to the Connecticut Tigers.

"We have two weeks left, and you just have to tell the guys to keep playing hard," Aberdeen skipper Leo Gomez said after Thursday's game. "That's something I've been telling these guys all year. You have to fight back again. We had a tough loss last night, and tonight, we didn't pitch good. We struggled today pitching, but that's part of the game. You just have to put games like this behind you and come back tomorrow, try to find a way to win."

The IronBirds' lone scoring rally came in their final turn at the plate, which Hoppy started by earning a walk. Davis followed with a hard grounder to the right side of the infield that was fielded by the Tigers' third baseman, who sent his throw into right field, allowing Hoppy to reach third and Davis to reach second. Knight hit an RBI groundout to short that pushed Hoppy home from third, and Givens followed with a sacrifice fly to center on which Davis tagged and scored his team's final run.

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The Tigers jumped all over Mota, taking him deep in the first frame with one runner on to run up a 2-0 lead.

In the second, Connecticut got to Mota for another run on two singles and a double, while in the following frame the Tigers went up 3-0 with two singles and a walk. The visitors hung two more runs on Mota in the fourth, scoring on two doubles and two base hits.

Mota exited after fourth having allowed six earned runs on 11 hits, struck out three and walked one.

After throwing a perfect fifth, Fowler was touched up for three runs, two of which were earned, as Connecticut worked him for a walk and two singles, while also taking advantage of a pair of passed balls. Fowler returned in the seventh with another perfect frame in the seventh, retiring the side on a pop fly and two groundouts.

In the eighth, Connecticut's Dean Green cranked a one-out triple off of Aberdeen pitcher Matt Drummond, then made the score 10-0 when he made it home on a grounder to Velleggia at first.

Strong came out of the bullpen in the ninth and got out of the frame unscathed, striking out one hitter and surrendering a single.

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Hobgood suffers sixth loss

Riding a two-game winning streak into Wednesday's home contest with the Connecticut Tigers, the IronBirds came close to tying the contest, and possibly taking their third straight victory, but left two men on with the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-2 defeat.

Matt Hobgood (0-6), Baltimore's first-round pick two years ago, had his longest start of the season, going five full innings, but took the loss after he allowed three earned runs on six hits.

Hobgood, the fifth overall pick of the 2009 amateur draft, started the game by retiring the Tigers' leadoff man, then promptly surrendered a home run to Connecticut shortstop Eugenio Suarez. The next Tiger batter managed a single off of Hobgood, but the Aberdeen starter got out of the inning with a 4-6-3 double-play.

"For the first inning or two, I was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes," Hobgood said. "Even with the home run, that pitch wasn't left up [in the strike zone]. I threw a first-pitch fastball [to Suarez], he took it. I threw him another one, because it was early in the count, and early in the game, and I like to throw as many fastballs as I can, attack the hitter. He went down and got a good pitch. You just kind of tip your hat on that, I guess."

In the second, Hobgood had a slightly easier time, striking out the first hitter, and retiring the second on a grounder to short before allowing a double. After giving up a walk, the IronBird hurler ended the frame with a groundout back to the mound.

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It was in the third that the visitors did most of their damage, starting off with a single, which was followed by Tyler Collins' RBI triple to dead center. With the inning's third hitter up, Hobgood uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Collins to score from third, putting Connecticut up 3-0.

Aberdeen nearly tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run, two-out rally. Serrata got things moving with a single to left, and Givens followed with a walk. That brought Velleggia to the mound, and the Aberdeen cleanup man swatted an RBI double to left. Representing the tying run, Velleggia was left stranded in scoring position when Sawyer grounded out to second.

Aberdeen's first scoring opportunity came in the seventh, which Velleggia started off by belting the first pitch he saw up the first base line and into the corner in right for a double. Sawyer followed with a strikeout, but next up was Narron, who fisted a 1-2 breaking ball into short left, allowing Velleggia to move over to third base. With runners on the corners and one out, Austin Goolsby went down swinging, and Leonora hit an inning-ending groundout to short.

The Tigers padded their lead by a run in the top of the final frame, scoring once on Schmarzo.

Aberdeen had a chance to snatch the game away in the bottom of the ninth, but could not seal the deal, leaving two men on base. Narron led off with a base on balls, but Goolsby went down swinging for the inning's first out. Leonora hit into a fielder's choice on which Narron was retired at second base, and Knight kept things alive, slapping a 2-2 pitch down the third base line to put runners at the corners. Representing the winning run, Davis struck out looking on a full-count pitch that just nicked the inside corner.


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