The Aberdeen IronBirds are set to kick off their Opening Day of the 2008 season after coming home from Hudson Valley with two wins in their pocket. They dropped the finale Thursday night (10-5) but managed to create quite an uproar to get their season started and trek home with a 2-1 record.
History was in the air, both Tuesday and Wednesday night. Wednesday the IronBirds pitching staff platooned to throw the first ever one-hitter. Chris Salberg, Joe Esposito and Brandon Cooney made their mark in Aberdeen’s record book with this feat bringing home a 4-0 shutout win.
Tuesday the Birds got started in a 13-7 win which saw them tie a franchise record for most runs scored in one frame. In addition, the Orioles 26th round draft pick of 2008, T.J. Baxter (University of New Orleans) began to pay dividends right from the start. This outfielder is listed as a 6’1” and weighs in at 218 lbs. As the DH, Baxter (3-for-6, three runs) belted out the second grand slam in club history (OF Danny Figueroa did it August 23, 2006 vs. Staten Island as he hit for the cycle, another historic feat) Tuesday.
The fourth round pick for the O’s in this year’s draft was Kyle Hudson. Hudson who is also 6’1” weighing in at 165 lbs is a diverse and speedy cat from the University of Illinois. As a Division 1 baseball and football player, look for this outfielder to hustle and amaze you. This All-Big-10 selection as a junior hit .398 that season and recorded 40 swiped bags in 49 tries. He was spotless in the outfield with 5 assists and left Illinois with a batting average of .376. Hudson was a receiver for the Illinois football team, leading in receptions and receiving yards in 2006.
Some of the faces you might see will be new to the ‘Birds this season, and that’s not unusual in the lineup and roster. This year though, the ‘Birds have a new manager in Gary Kendall who replaced Andy Etchebarren.
Kendall’s past is rooted in baseball and as a Baltimore native he’s been in the O’s farm system for some time. He’s served as a scout from 1991-1995 but his most recent stint was as manager of the Class-A Delmarva Shorebirds for the past three seasons. Kendall will be the fourth manager in the IronBirds system.
As many of us already know, going to an IronBirds game isn’t only about baseball. It’s also about the experience. So what can we look forward to tonight?
For starters, we can watch Ms. Maryland USA, 2008, Casandra Tressler throw out the first pitch. Will she be able to reach the plate? This Garrett County native and obviously a looker, grew up an athlete so she might be throwing out some heat! www.missmarylandusa.com/casandra_bio.htm In addition, your walk into the stadium is likely to be more entertaining. The IronBirds will be hosting a sidewalk show outside of the stadium with some, Sidewalk Shock Graffiti, which will be lighting up the pavement as you enter.
The IronBirds are pitted against the Brooklyn Cyclones with the first pitch scheduled at 7:35 Friday. Although tickets are sold out, you can listen to their games on 970 am WAMD or online at www.ironbirdsbaseball.com.