Aberdeen returned home from a 1-4 road trip to face first-place Brooklyn, a team that beat the IronBirds twice during the road trip, and exacted a small amount of revenge by coming from behind for a 3-2 victory.
The rally for the IronBirds (4-5) started in the bottom of the eighth inning when leftfielder Kipp Schutz singled to left off reliever Hamilton Bennett with Brooklyn (5-4) leading 2-1. Bennett was then removed for Ryan Fraser (0-1, 3.00) by Brooklyn manager Wally Backman. Fraser immediately surrendered back-to-back walks to first baseman Tyler Kolodny and designated hitter David Anderson to load the bases. Third baseman Adam Gaylord came through for the IronBirds, lifting a sacrifice fly to right field to score Schutz and tie the game at 2-2. Kolodny and Anderson each advanced a base on the play.
After catcher Austin Goolsby struck out, second baseman Omar Casamayor put the IronBirds ahead with a sharp single into left field to score Kolodny and take a 3-2 lead. Shortstop Michael Rooney walked to load the bases again, but centerfielder Trent Mummey struck out to end the threat.
Aberdeen got on the board first off starter Wes Wrenn in the fourth inning when Anderson led off with a walk. Gaylord singled to left, advancing Anderson to second before Goolsby laid down a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. Anderson advanced to third and Gaylord advanced to second, and then Casamayor grounded out to second to score Anderson and put the IronBirds up, 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, starting pitcher Justin Moore saw his streak of 10.1 scoreless innings to open the season snapped when Brooklyn centerfielder Cody Holliday scored on an RBI groundout by rightfielder Cory Vaughn. Holliday singled to center with one out and advanced to third on Darrell Ceciliani’s double. Vaughn’s groundout also advanced Ceciliani to third, where he scored on first baseman Jeff Flagg’s single to left field. All told in the inning, Moore gave up two runs and four hits, and Brooklyn still had two men on base and a 2-1 led when the inning ended.
Brooklyn had a chance for an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning off Brian Parker (1-0, 1.93), but shortstop Rylan Sandoval was gunned down from left field by Kipp Schutz on a ball put in play by Holliday.
The IronBirds had many chances to jump out to an early lead in the first and third innings on Wrenn, but stranded runners on first and second in both innings. In the top of the first, Baltimore Orioles’ fourth-round draft pick Mummey singled to right in his first professional at bat, but rightfielder Zach Moore grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to clear the bases. Schutz reached base on a grounder towards second base and Kolodny walked in the next at-bat. Anderson sent a long fly ball into right field that was corralled by Vaughn to end the threat.
Mummey was again the catalyst in the third inning, singling past Sandoval with one out. Zach Moore flied out to center before Schutz walked to send Mummey to second. However, Kolodny ended the threat by striking out.
Aberdeen threatened again in the seventh against Bennett. The inning got started by a Casamayor bloop double to right field with one out. Rooney flied out to center before Mummey reached base for the third time in a walk, but Jeremy Nowak, pinch-hitting for Moore, flied out to left field to end the inning.
Manager Gary Kendall sees the IronBirds consistently putting pressure on opposing pitching. “We had some base runners all night and we were flirting with ‘one hit away’ and tying it or going ahead and we just couldn’t get it,” Kendall said. “That’s just baseball, but we beat a good club tonight and it’s a good win for us.”
Justin Moore continued his masterful pitching this year, escaping a jam in the third inning. Brooklyn catcher Taylor Freeman doubled to left field with one out and then advanced to third on a single by Sandoval. Holliday then grounded to first base where Kolodny came home with the throw to get Freeman in a play at the plate. Moore then got Ceciliani to fly out to Mummey in center field to end the threat.
For the game, Moore went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out one and issuing no walks. For the season, Moore’s ERA is 1.64 over 11 innings. Parker pitched two innings, giving up three hits and striking out one. David Walters pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.
“Me and my catcher [Goolsby] tonight were on the same page,” Moore said. “I’d get up on the mound and I’d go in my glove and put my hand on a changeup and he’d be calling a changeup. I’d go in and put my hand on a curveball and he’d be calling curveball. And then a lot of times I’d just have my two-seam grip and he’d be calling two seams. You can’t ask for anything more than having you and your catcher on the same page.
“It would have been nice to get [Moore] the W, but I didn’t running him back out there at that stage of the game was what we needed to do at that point,” Kendall said.
Kendall also commented on the pitching of Brooklyn’s Wrenn, who worked to stymie the IronBirds for his six innings where he gave up four hits and one earned run. Wrenn walked three and struck out four and has an ERA of 2.25 on the year.
“I like [Wrenn], he competes,” Kendall said. “He’s a tough kid. He keeps the ball down, his breaking ball is good, which we saw tonight. And we laid off some breaking balls that made him pitch deeper into some counts and he was sharp. He pitched well enough to win and should have got the win.”
Casamayor went 2-for-4 out of the eighth spot in the lineup where he drove in two runs and upped his average on the year to .333.
“It was just relax, get a pitch, and thank to God the hit came out,” Casamayor said.
“He just came through for us,” Kendall said.
Making his organizational debut Saturday night, Mummey batted leadoff and went 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
“It feels really great. It’s exciting to come out here and catch up where I left off [at Auburn],” Mummey said. “Playing three years of college baseball, you get to go over a lot of things that some kids don’t. I had great coaches at Auburn and we worked on all aspects of the game. I feel I’m a little more mature at the plate and being a junior in college and coming out rather than coming out of high school.”
“I don’t think [Mummey] had any kind of nervousness,” Kendall said. “He delivered. He looks like he’s going to have speed, it looks like he breaks on the ball real good in center field, looks like he’s definitely going to be an asset. They said he’s going to be an exciting type of player.”
“I was excited that coaches have confidence in me and put me at lead off and just show everybody what I can do,” Mummey said. “I hit two-hole at Auburn, but my whole life I’ve leadoff. You only hit leadoff one time in the game and it’s really great to see some pitches and let the guys behind you know what the pitcher has.”
The IronBirds close out the two game series with Brooklyn Sunday night at 5:35 p.m. Tyler Sexton (0-1, 6.75) goes against Mitch Houck (1-0, 0.00) of the Cyclones. Sexton lost his first start of the year at Brooklyn on June 21 where he went 5.1 innings and gave up five runs on four hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 5-2 loss. Houck won his first start on June 22 in a 9-3 rout of the IronBirds. In the game, Houck went 6.2 innings while only allowing three hits and zero runs. For the year, Aberdeen is 0- against Brooklyn.
In roster news, relief pitcher Randy Henry was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 23 in order to make room for Mummey. Second baseman L.J. Hoes and shortstop Pedro Florimon have finished their Aberdeen rehab assignments and have returned to Frederick and Bowie, respectively.