Aberdeen saved its best fireworks for the Fifth of July, as an offensive explosion sent the team on a 9-6 victory over Lowell on Monday night. Centerfielder Trent Mummey’s bunt single in the fifth inning was the IronBirds’ 14th hit of the evening, tying the team’s season-high and designated hitter Kipp Schutz’s RBI single two batters later to break that high for the team. By the end of the night, the IronBirds had a new season-high and franchise-record with 19 hits.
Schutz and shortstop Michael Rooney provided the most firepower, each recording four hits. Officially, Schutz was 4-for-5 with two triples, two RBIs, and one run scored. Rooney was 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Rooney bumped his average up to .265 from the .205 mark he started the day at, while Schutz continued his rise, having his average jump from .368 to .403.
“We managed to put some hits together which was evading us for most of the year,” manager Gary Kendall said.
“It’s just one of those days where everything feels right,” Rooney said.
“I’m feeling good at the plate right now and I hope this success will continue,” Schutz said.
Rooney said, “It’s been fun going out there every day and tonight was just definitely one of those nights where everything kind of felt good up there at the plate.”
“I’m looking for that fastball and when I get it, I’m looking to do something with it,” Schutz said.
Total, five IronBirds had multi-hit games Sunday night and every starter had a hit. Other top performers were first baseman Michael Flacco, who went 2-for-4 with two key RBIs and a run scored, and leftfielder Austin Knight who went 3-for-4 with a walk.
“We bunched [hits] together when we needed to and got the hits when we needed them with runners in scoring position,” Rooney said. “We got some big hits tonight and were able to string them together and added them when we needed them.”
“If you had told in the first inning that there would be 30 [total] hits out there after one clean inning where neither team scored, I would have told you you were crazy,” Kendall said.
The bottom of the fifth inning saw some of the most exciting baseball Aberdeen has played all year. With Aberdeen (8-10) up 5-4, catcher Joe Oliveira and Rooney both singled before Mummey’s bunt single loaded the bases and Oliveira scored when second baseman Omar Casamayor took a Garrett Rau pitch off his back. Schutz recorded his fourth hit of the night, a single to right that scored Rooney, but Lowell (5-13) rightfielder Bryce Brentz’s throw beat Mummey to the plate. Mummey lowered his shoulder and barreled into catcher Chia-Chu Chen, who held on for the night. Mummey fell down trying to get up, and while he was lying on the plate, Chen got up and spiked his catcher’s mask in front of home plate. Mummey got up and words were exchanged has he went back to the bench. Both benches and bullpens cleared, putting both teams on the field. However, no punches were thrown, no ejections were made, and order was restored by the umpires. Third baseman Adam Gaylord and Flacco both made outs to end the inning, but Aberdeen had taken a 7-4 lead.
“I guess it got us fired a little bit and we ended up winning the game,” Schutz said.
“The way I saw it is that it was a clean play,” Kendall said. “Our guy [Mummey] slid into home and I don’t know whether the guy [Chen] thought he came in too hard or came in too high. I spoke with Mummey about it and he said, ‘All I did was slide.’”
“I didn’t understand why everyone was running out there,” he added. “I thought if anything, it helped them. And the way it looked, the next inning, it did.”
Lowell got on the board first in the top of the second when Chen pulled a line drive over the right field fence for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead for Lowell. Bruno Sanchez had been pitching well to that point, striking out the first two batters of the inning, but the righthander could not get Chen to end the inning.
Aberdeen was able to answer back in the bottom of the second, loading the bases against pitcher Tyler Wilson (0-2, 5.71) after Flacco was hit by a pitch, Knight singled, and Oliveira was hit by a pitch as well. Rooney singled to left to score Flacco and tie the game 1-1. But Mummey grounded into a fielder’s choice and Casamayor continued to come off his hot streak, flying out to center to leave the bases loaded.
Lowell retook the lead in the top of the third. Sanchez gave up a leadoff single to shortstop Joantoni Garcia, centerfielder Felix Sanchez reached on an error, and then third baseman Kolbrin Vitek singled in Garcia to left field. The Spinners weren’t done yet, as designated hitter and Boston Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie loaded the bases before rightfielder Bryce Brentz recorded an RBI on a double play ball. The third run of the inning came when leftfielder Brandon Jacobs singled in Vitek for a 4-1 Lowell lead, and ending Sanchez’s night.
The IronBirds got one back in the bottom of the third when third baseman Adam Gaylord scored on Zach Moore’s single off Wilson, before taking the lead in a three-run fourth inning that was keyed after Rooney singled and Mummey doubled to lead off the inning. Rooney scored on an RBI groundout by Casamayor before Mummey scored on a triple by Schutz. After Gaylord grounded out, Schutz scored on a sharp single by Flacco for a 5-4 Aberdeen lead.
Sanchez lasted only three innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk while striking out three. Lefthander Jason Gurka (1-1, 4.76) came on in relief of Sanchez. Gurka made his outs in the fourth and fifth, striking out the side in the fifth, but Lowell first baseman Sean Killeen hit his fifth home run of the year and second of the series, that went over the visitor’s clubhouse in left field to cut the lead to 7-6.
A Rooney single in the bottom of the sixth scored Oliveira and bumped Aberdeen’s lead to 8-6, and the IronBirds added their final run of the 9-6 victory in the bottom of the seventh when a Flacco single scored Gaylord.
The Aberdeen bullpen was a success on Monday night. After Sanchez’s rough outing, Gurka came on to pitch three innings of two-run ball, striking out five Spinners in the process before righthander T.R. Keating came on to pitch scoreless innings in the seventh and the eighth. David Walters came on to record his third save of the year in the ninth.
Rooney said, “We had hitting up and down the lineup, we had good pitching, we had good defense all day long. Being able to put all three phases of the game definitely helped us out in getting the win tonight.”
The IronBirds close out the series Tuesday night at Ripken Stadium against the Spinners. Lefthander Justin Anderson (1-1, 3.63) will go for Aberdeen against Lowell’s righthander, Randy Consuegra (0-2, 270.00). Baltimore Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez will make a rehab appearance in relief as well. The team has its first off day of the year on Wednesday before heading to Williamsport for a three-game set against the Crosscutters.
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