The Aberdeen IronBirds fell behind early Tuesday night against Staten Island, but the team battled its way to back to take a hard-fought 5-3 victory and two-game series sweep against the Yankees.
IronBirds starter Justin Moore, making his first start since July 15 because of an oblique injury, got off to a rough start, surrendering three runs in the top of the first inning on three hits. He hit centerfielder Eduardo Sosa to start the game, then allowed a single to third baseman Garrison Lassiter, an RBI double to rightfielder Kelvin De Leon, an RBI groundout to first baseman Kyle Roller, and an RBI single to leftfielder Mike Ferraro to put Staten Island ahead 3-0.
“My arm felt good, but my stuff wasn’t moving as much in the first inning and they came out swinging,” Moore said. “I was throwing first pitch fastballs and they were swinging, putting good wood on them, and getting through, finding holes. Nothing you can really do.”
Aberdeen got one back in the bottom of the first against Staten Island starter Nik Turley. Centerfielder Trent Mummey lined a leadoff double to right field and rightfielder Austin Knight singled to move Mummey to third. But second baseman Sammie Starr lined out to third and Knight was doubled off first base. Third baseman Adam Gaylord singled to score Mummey, but leftfielder Kipp Schutz grounded out to end the threat with Aberdeen only putting one run on the board.
Aberdeen put together a nice two-out sequence in the bottom of the second to tie the game 3-3 off Turley. Catcher Joe Oliveira doubled to left to start the scoring. Oliveira advanced to third on a passed ball when shortstop Michael Rooney walked before scoring when Mummey singled to right, also sending Rooney to third. Knight beat a throw from third base to score Rooney and tie the game. Starr grounded out to end the threat.
Staten Island had a golden opportunity to take the lead back in the top of the third, putting runners on first and third with no outs. De Leon lofted a fly ball to centerfield in an attempt to score Sosa from third, but Mummey’s throw was a bead and reached catcher Dashenko Ricardo in time to punch Sosa out. The runner on first, Lassiter, was caught stealing by Ricardo a batter later to end the inning.
“I’ve got a game plan of what I’m going to do with the baseball where it’s hit or anything like that,” Mummey said. “I knew the guy on third was a good runner and the ball kind of took me to my right. I just made a good play at the plate and threw him out.”
“Dashenko did a really great job of applying the tag. It’s a really great play from the catcher’s standpoint. It’s nice to be able to throw the ball in and have your catcher block the plate like that,” Mummey added.
Ricardo came through for the team on offense in bottom of the inning, singling in Gaylord to give Aberdeen its first lead of the game, 4-3. Ricardo’s single came after Turley walked Gaylord, Schutz singled, and first baseman David Anderson singled before Ricardo’s at bat. The IronBirds added another run when Oliveira grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to score Schutz from third. Then, Turley walked Rooney to put runners on first and third with two outs and Mummey coming to bat for the third time in three innings.
This spelled the end for Turley, after 2.2 innings. Turley gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks. His ERA inflated over a run, from 6.12 to 7.12.
Reliever Bryant Cotton got Mummey to fly out to left field to end the IronBirds inning. Cotton held the IronBirds scoreless over the next two innings, striking out five batters in the process. Cotton combined with two more Yankee relievers, Michael Recchia and Preston Claiborne, to hold the IronBirds scoreless for the duration of the game.
Moore settled in nicely after the rough first inning, not allowing any additional Staten Island runs. His final line included three runs on five hits over five innings. He walked three batters and struck out two.
“Over the last four I started mixing in different pitches on the first pitch and not just pounding the fastball as much as I usually do,” Moore said. “When they came out first pitch they weren’t just seeing a fastball and ripping at it.”
“He gutted it out,” manager Gary Kendall said. “There were some times when I think he ran into a little bit of a wall but made a big pitch when he had to. He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is, but that’s expected. He just went out there and battled and competed and got the win, and I’m real happy for him. It’s good to have him back.”
He was relieved by Ashur Tolliver who pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. Tuesday was the first outing since June 30, a span of eight appearances, where Tolliver did not give up a run.
“Tolliver probably pitched as good as he has all year,” Kendall said. “It was one of the best outings he’s thrown. He changed speeds and did a nice job.”
Jason Gurka pitched the eighth before turning it over to Steven Mazur for the ninth.
Mummey was a bright spot for Aberdeen, joining Knight and Gaylord as the IronBirds with multi-hit games. In his last six games, Mummey was only 4-for-24 at the plate, but on Tuesday, the centerfielder was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.
“You know playing this game you’re going to fail and it’s just a matter of handling your failure in the correct way and being positive and looking ahead at your next at bat,” Mummey said.
Knight recorded his second straight multi-hit evening, going 2-for-4 with an RBI while Gaylord went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk.
Wednesday night Aberdeen opens a three-game series with the Jamestown Jammers at Ripken Stadium with a first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Bruno Sanchez (2-2, 4.31) gets the start for Aberdeen against Jamestown’s Mike Ojala (0-0, 2.61). In his last start on July 29, Sanchez received a no-decision after pitching six innings and giving up one run on four hits against the Brooklyn Cyclones, a game Aberdeen eventually lost. Ojala began the year with the Gulf Coast League Marlins before being called up to Jamestown. He made his first start on July 30 against Mahoning Valley and pitched three scoreless innings, walking one batter and striking out four.