The Aberdeen IronBirds scored yet another cardiac comeback on Wednesday night against Hudson Valley, battling back from a 6-3 deficit before All-Star third baseman Adam Gaylord’s sacrifice fly to centerfield off Stephen Hiscock scored second baseman Sammie Starr and gave Aberdeen a 7-6 victory. The batter before, All-Star leftfielder Kipp Schutz had tied the game by singling to score All-Star centerfielder Trent Mummey.
“We have a lot of fight in us,” Gaylord said. “We just keep battling even though we’re down. It’s just a testament to how close we are.”
“They don’t give up,” manager Gary Kendall said.
“The guys just really held together and we got some big outs when we needed to get them,” he added.
Gaylord, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, played in the All-Star game on Tuesday, creating a whirlwind two days for the 31st-round draft pick from Stanford.
“The All-Star game was a lot of fun and it was an honor to be there in Staten Island and play for that team,” he said. “Just coming back here and getting a walk-off win and getting a W, it’s all been kind of a great experience. I’m glad I’ve been a part of it.”
“I’m really glad they pitched to Gaylord,” Kendall said. “He’d been swinging the bat good all night.”
Both teams had an opportunity to jump out to early leads in the first inning after a 51-minute rain delay. Hudson Valley second baseman Robby Price singled off of Aberdeen starter Bruno Sanchez. Sanchez was able to erase Price on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of shortstop Dio Luis. Then first baseman Phil Wunderlich doubled into the left field corner to put a runner in scoring position, but leftfielder Steve Tinoco flied out to centerfield to end the inning.
Aberdeen had its opportunity off Hudson Valley starter Zach Rosscup when Sammie Starr lined a one-out triple into the right field corner that a diving Burt Reynolds could not get to. Leftfielder Kipp Schutz walked to put runners on the corners, but third baseman Adam Gaylord could not get the job done, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.
Hudson Valley put another runner in scoring position in the top of the second. Reynolds beat out an infield single and then stole second. But neither third baseman Elias Otero or catcher Mayo Acosta could deliver Reynolds and Sanchez escaped.
Aberdeen did break through in the bottom of the second with one run. Designated hitter Tyler Stampone lofted a fly ball high and deep into the left field corner that Tinoco could not get to, and Stampone ended up on third base. First baseman David Anderson bumped his RBI total up with a sacrifice fly to right field, putting Aberdeen up 1-0.
In the third, Aberdeen put together its most significant scoring chance of the night against Rosscup. Shortstop Michael Rooney led off the inning with a bloop single before centerfielder Trent Mummey doubled down the right field line. Starr lifted a fly ball to right field, and Rooney beat Reynolds’ throw home while Mummey went to third. Schutz struck out, and Gaylord made up for his earlier strike out by singling in Mummey to give Aberdeen a 3-0 lead.
Rosscup was done after three innings, surrendering three runs on five hits. The lefthander walked one and struck out two IronBirds.
Reliever Nate Garcia allowed yet another IronBird to reach scoring position in the fourth when rightfielder Blair Dunlap doubled to left field. But Garcia regrouped and struck out catcher Dashenko Ricardo and Rooney to strike out to strand Dunlap.
Hudson Valley used a big fifth inning, scoring four runs to take a 4-3 lead. Reynolds started the inning by drawing a walk off Sanchez and then advancing to second on a passed ball by Ricardo. Then Otero singled to center to advance Reynolds to third, before Reynolds scored on a passed ball and errant throw by Ricardo, which also sent Otero to second. Acosta singled Otero to third and then Otero scored on squeeze bunt by centerfielder Bryan Bryles. Bryles was able to reach safely as Anderson dropped the ball when attempting to apply a tag. Price lofted a sacrifice fly to center to advance Acosta to third, and then another squeeze bunt by Luis scored Acosta. Wunderlich hit his second double of the game to score Bryles and give Hudson Valley a 4-3 lead. Sanchez was lifted for reliever Jason Gurka at this juncture and Gurka escaped the inning without further damage despite issuing a walk to the first batter he faced.
Sanchez’s final line was 4.2 innings pitched, four runs (three earned), one walk, and one strikeout. Sanchez has a 4.47 ERA on the season.
“I didn’t think he had good command, but he battled,” Kendall said.
“All in all, he kept us there and they all did a good job of keeping us right there and we were able to come back at the end.”
Hudson Valley got to Gurka for two more runs in the top of the sixth. Acosta doubled home Otero before Luis singled in Acosta, giving Hudson Valley a 6-3 lead.
Aberdeen got one back off Garcia in the bottom of the sixth when Ricardo doubled home Gaylord to cut the score to 6-4.
Anderson tied Tyler Kolodny’s franchise record of 10 home runs with a blast to dead centerfield off of Adam Liberatore in the bottom of the eighth to pull Aberdeen to 6-5.
Garcia pitched well in relief for Hudson Valley, pitching 4.2 innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out six. Hiscock pitched 0.1 innings and gave up two runs to earn the loss.
IronBirds righthanded reliever Clayton Schrader pitched the top of the ninth to earn the victory.
Aberdeen wraps up its quick two-game set Thursday night with righthander Scott Copeland (2-5, 3.40) taking the hill against Hudson Valley’s Jacob Thompson (2-1, 1.29). In his last start against Batavia, Copeland pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on eight hits to earn the win. Thompson’s last start also came against Batavia where he gave up six runs over four innings to earn the loss. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.