By Daniel Gallen
Special to The Dagger
Justin Anderson pitched six innings of one-hit, one-run baseball and the Aberdeen IronBirds strung together a series of well-timed hits to take their 2010 season opener over Hudson Valley 5-2 Friday night at Ripken Stadium.
Anderson (1-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball for the IronBirds (1-0) before the Renegades’ Robby Price connected on a home run in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 1-1. The IronBirds responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring four runs off reliever Miguel Sierra (0-1).
Aberdeen shortstop Michael Rooney led off the inning with an infield single, but strayed too far off first base and was picked off by Hudson Valley catcher Alejandro Torres. The next batter, second baseman Omar Casamayora, doubled to dead center, and advanced to third on an error by shortstop Derek Dietrch that also allowed first baseman Tyler Kolodny to reach first.
Leftfielder Kipp Schutz then broke the game open with a triple down the right field line to score Casamayora and Kolodny. Rightfielder Jeremy Nowak, making his professional debut, followed Schutz’s triple with one of his own to push the Aberdeen lead to 4-1. After designated hitter David Anderson struck out, third baseman Adam Gaylord doubled down the right field line to score Nowak.
“Hitting is contagious,” Schutz said, adding that the feeling of being able to generate more offense spreads among the players with each hit, leading to innings like the sixth.
“It’s all baseball,” he said. “It’s fun to play when the lights are brighter.”
Manager Gary Kendall said he felt Schutz’s strong performance at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. has carried over into this season.
Besides the offensive explosion in the sixth inning, the story of the evening was Justin Anderson’s pitching. The only baserunners Anderson allowed in his six innings of work were outfielder Burt Reynolds and third baseman Bennett Davis, who both walked, and centerfielder Chris Winder, who was hit by a pitch. Anderson showed good command and was unflappable against the Renegades (0-1).
“[Anderson] really pitched his tail off,” Kendall said. “He gave us a big lift.” Kendall complimented Anderson’s ability to “pitch backwards,” meaning that he often throws fastballs on counts that normally call for breaking balls and breaking balls on fastball counts.
On the field, Anderson said he was oblivious to his no-hit bid. “I didn’t really look at the scoreboard,” he said. Anderson pointed to his changeup as a pitch that worked for him, and which he moved in and out on different batters. Anderson’s final line was six innings pitched, one run, one hit, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Kendall said Nowak and catcher Joe Oliveira both performed well in their professional debuts. Nowak was 1-for-4 with a triple, run scored, and RBI, plus two strikeouts. Oliveira went 0-for-3, but Kendall said he liked the way the rookie from Pacific University hit the ball.
The IronBirds’ first run of the night came on an RBI single by David Anderson in the bottom of the second which scored Kolodny from third base.
Casamayor provided a spark off the bench after substituting for second baseman L.J. Hoes, who is on rehab from Frederick and was seeing his first game action in over a month. Casamayor went 2-for-2 with a double and a run.
In relief, T.R. Keating pitched two scoreless innings, while Brian Parker allowed one earned run in the ninth inning which let Hudson Valley cut the final score to 5-2.
Despite the big lead heading into the ninth inning, Kendall said, “Never do I think a game is won. All it takes is a little bit of something to ignite them.” Kendall said that the bullpen was active during Parker’s inning, but he commended the pitcher for sticking out the inning.
“You live and die with these kids, whether it’s a win or a loss,” Kendall said.
Aberdeen takes on Hudson Valley in the second game of the three-game set Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium. Scott Copeland, the Orioles’ 21st-round draft pick in 2010 out of Southern Mississippi, will make his professional debut for the IronBirds, while Julius Dettrich will take the mound for the Renegades.