In a year filled with late-inning heroics for Aberdeen, Brooklyn offered up some of its own Thursday night, scoring two runs in the top of the ninth of T.R. Keating to take the second straight game from the IronBirds 4-2.
First baseman Joe Bonfe, third baseman Brian Harrison, and designated hitter Jeff Flagg strung together one-out singles to break a 2-2 tie and put the Cyclones ahead 3-2. Then, two batters later, shortstop Luis Nieves laid down a squeeze bunt to score Harrison and put Brooklyn ahead at its 4-2 final.
Keating (2-3, 4.74) pitched only one inning, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out a batter.
Aberdeen jumped out early on Brooklyn starter Mitch Houck who was 2-0 against the IronBirds coming into the game. Centerfielder Trent Mummey led off with an infield single before advancing to second on a groundout by second baseman Sammie Starr. Then leftfielder Kipp Schutz dropped a single into centerfield to score Mummey, but Schutz was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw home.
The IronBirds 1-0 lead only lasted one full inning, as Brooklyn tied the game in the top of the third against Bruno Sanchez. Shortstop Luis Nieves recorded a one-out, stand-up triple before scoring on shortstop Rylan Sandoval’s single to right field.
The third inning was Sanchez’s only blot on the evening. The righthander went six strong innings, giving up the one run on only four hits. Sanchez did not surrender a walk and struck out three batters, taking his ERA down to 4.31.
“Bruno went out and did a great job,” manager Gary Kendall said. “He went out there and toed the line and pitched six good innings for us tonight.”
“I was working a lot with my sinker inside,” Sanchez said. “I think it was a good game. Everyone did a good job. We made some errors, but I think it was good.”
“He’s throwing the ball with a lot of confidence,” Kendall said. “He believes in himself, he keeps the ball down, his angle is good on his pitches, [and] he makes good pitches with outs and runners in scoring position. He’s given us a lot.”
Lefthander Jason Gurka relieved Sanchez, but could not keep the 2-1 lead. Gurka issued a leaoff walk to Bonfe who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Harrison. Gurka got Flagg to strike out, but leftfielder James Schroeder lofted a deep fly ball to right field that Jeremy Nowak misjudged, causing Bonfe to score, tying the game 2-2, and Schroeder to end up on third. Gurka got Nieves to fly out to center to end the threat. Gurka’s final line was two innings pitched, no hits, an unearned run, a walk, and two strikeouts.
Aberdeen put together its biggest scoring threat in the bottom of the fourth, but only managed one run to take a 2-1 lead. Third baseman Adam Gaylord led off with a double to center and then advanced to third on designated hitter Joel Polanco’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Polanco was safe at first on an error by Brooklyn Bonfe. Nowak lofted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Gaylord and take the lead. Then catcher Joe Oliveira and shortstop Michael Rooney strung together singles to load the bases, but Mummey and Starr could not get any other runners home.
For Brooklyn, Houck pitched five innings of six-hit, two-run ball, walking two and striking out five. Houck was relieved by Adam Kolarek who pitched two innings and only allowed two walks. Ryan Fraser (1-1, 0.47) got the win, pitching two innings and giving up one hit.
Aberdeen’s record is currently 21-19 and the team has lost two straight games.
“We got to keep working,” Sanchez said. “We got to keep working hard. We got to keep winning games. We’re going to try to win games. I know we’re going to win more games. This is a baseball game. Anything can happen. This is the real game.”
Aberdeen wraps up the three game series with Brooklyn Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium. Justin Anderson (3-1, 3.44) gets the call for the IronBirds against the Cyclones’ Yohan Almonte (3-3, 2.68).