The 40-minute rain delay before the bottom of the ninth was just delaying the inevitable on Wednesday night as the Aberdeen IronBirds fell to the Jamestown Jammers 3-2 at Ripken Stadium. The game was called prior to the bottom of the ninth as the rain started to let up, but the lightning did not.
“The umpires didn’t want us out there on the field even though it stopped raining,” manager Gary Kendall said. “That didn’t cost us the game, but it would have been nice to have one last shot at it.”
Jamestown starter Mike Ojala pitched 2.2 perfect innings to start the ballgame before Aberdeen’s offense kicked in. In the bottom of the third, nine-hitter and shortstop Michael Rooney walked to catalyze the IronBirds offense. Rooney advanced to second on a wild pitch by Ojala during centerfielder Trent Mummey’s at bat and then scored when Mummey grounded up the middle to put Aberdeen up 1-0. The IronBirds had an opportunity to add at least one more run, as Mummey stole second and then advanced to third on another wild pitch by Ojala. But Ojala bounced back and struck out designated hitter Austin Knight to end the chance.
IronBirds starter Bruno Sanchez put runners on in each of his first three innings, but the pitcher kept zeroes on the scoreboard. In the first, Sanchez allowed a single to second baseman Danny Black and walked shortstop Noah Perio. But Sanchez retired the next two batters to escape the inning. In the second, Sanchez allowed a one-out single to Dudley, but a great throw after a pitch in the dirt by catcher Dashenko Ricardo erased Dudley from the bases. Jamestown came closest to getting on the board in the third, when Black lined a two-out triple over leftfielder Kipp Schutz’s head. But Sanchez came back and struck out Perio to end the threat.
Jamestown finally broke through in the top of the fourth, a sequence started by third baseman Ryan Fisher’s one-out double to centerfield. Fisher advanced to third when first baseman Aaron Senne grounded out, and then scored when Dudley singled to right field, tying the game 1-1.
The Aberdeen offense struck again in the bottom of the fourth, answering Jamestown’s run to take the lead back. Second baseman Sammie Starr led off the inning with a single to center and then advanced to second on a pick-off throw from Ojala that Senne could not handle. Schutz singled to center to score Starr and put Aberdeen up 2-1.
Jamestown immediately answered off of Sanchez for two runs and a 3-2 lead. Sanchez put runners on first and second with no outs, and the Aberdeen defense was unable to turn a double play, which put runners on first and third with one out. Then, Black tried to steal second base and Ricardo’s throw sailed into centerfield to allow centerfielder Brent Keys to score from third and tie the game. The next batter, rightfielder Marcell Ozuna, who entered the game third in the New York-Penn League with 33 RBIs, recorded another by singling into left field to score Black and put Jamestown ahead 3-2.
This was the end for Sanchez (2-3, 4.46) who was replaced by Will Startup at the top of the sixth. For the game, Sanchez gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Startup pitched three scoreless innings, giving up only a hit and a walk, striking out three Jammers. T.R. Keating pitched the ninth, striking out two and walking one.
Ojala was lifted after four innings where he gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out five. The Jamestown bullpen did an effective job in shutting down the IronBirds. Kenneth Toves (2-0, 3.52) pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit ball where he struck out three batters. Michael Brady (S, 2) came in to pitch the eighth.
“We couldn’t do much with their starter or their bullpen, especially their bullpen,” Kendall said.
This is the second straight night where the bullpen has frustrated the IronBirds offense. On Tuesday night, Staten Island’s bullpen held the IronBirds scoreless through the last half of the game.
“When you face a guy from the bullpen, it’s not that you know anything more about the starter than you know about the bullpen, but we don’t hit lefthanders particularly well anyway,” Kendall said.
“I think we get into kind of a complacent situation. It was a 2-1, then 2-2 game. It’s tight and I just don’t think we bear down as well. We kind of let the innings cost a little bit until late in the game and then there’s a sense of urgency. I think we lose a little focus because there’s no reason for that. I can’t really put my finger on it.”
Aberdeen continues the three-game series with Jamestown on Thursday night with Justin Anderson (3-2, 4.46) pitching against Rett Varner (1-1, 1.69). In his last start, Anderson took the loss against Brooklyn, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing six earned runs. Varner took his first loss in his last start against Batavia, going 3.2 innings and giving up four runs, only one of which was earned. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.