The Aberdeen IronBirds extended their season-best winning streak to five games on Monday night, overcoming a pair of deficits to best the visiting Hudson Valley Renegades, 6-4.
With the victory, the IronBirds improved to 18-32 on the year. Through Monday, Aberdeen was in the cellar of the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division, 7.5 games behind third-place Hudson Valley.
Monday's contest was attended by 6,544 faithful IronBirds' fans.
"I'm happy with the way they were playing tonight, and to get another win," Aberdeen skipper Leo Gomez said. "We had good pitching. We did a good job of moving the runner over. I'm looking for them to keep playing the way we have over the last five games. They've been scoring the runs when we've needed them, and we've been pitching very well, so if they keep playing like they have, we just want to keep it that way."
Aberdeen's big inning was the seventh, which the two teams entered tied 3-3. Kyle Hoppy was the first IronBird to reach, blasting a leadoff double, and Adam Davis followed with a walk. Sammie Starr moved his teammates over one base with a sacrifice bunt, and Hoppy scored what turned out to be the game-winning run when the Renegades committed an error on Mychal Givens' grounder to short. After Givens swiped second base to put a pair of men in scoring position, Joe Velleggia cleared the bases, ripping a two-RBI double down the left field line.
Velleggia, who was selected to play in the upcoming New York-Penn League All-Star Game in Lowell, Mass., earned Player of the Game honors, finishing up 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
"They were kind of pounding me inside [the strike zone] the whole game, and I wasn't able to hit it at first," Velleggia said. "On that last [double], I got a fastball and was able to hook it down the line. In my second at bat, it was actually a slider that was left over the plate. I thought I was a little bit in front of it, but I got enough of the barrel on it. I was just trying to stay solid, to be ready for anything. My approach is normally to look for a fastball and adjust, so that's what I was trying to do."
IronBird starter Mike Wright, the Orioles' third-round pick in the 2011 MLB draft, put together his third solid outing in a row, working through five innings in which he allowed one earned run, struck out two and walked one.
"I felt good with all my pitches in the bullpen, but wound up having trouble with all of them during the game," Wright said. "My slider felt really good there later in the game. Most times I go into a game thinking I'm going to throw all fastballs, until they start doing something with them. I got into a little trouble [tonight], so I went to my slider because it was feeling the best for toward the end, and I'm going to throw anything that's working to get outs."
Aberdeen reliever Jose Mota (1-1) came on in the top of the sixth after Wright's departure, and stayed on the mound for the balance of the game, striking out three without issuing a walk and surrendering one earned run on four hits to pick up his first win of the season.
"Jose had four good innings tonight, pitched very well," Gomez said. "Tonight, and the last time he [appeared], [when he] pitched three innings, he's done well."
With Aberdeen down 2-0 heading into the home half of the second frame, the IronBirds cut the Renegade lead in half with a one-run rally. Wynston Sawyer led off and got to first via an error by Hudson Valley shortstop. After moving over to second on Connor Narron's walk, Sawyer tagged and advanced to third when Austin Knight lofted a fly ball to center. Sawyer scored fro third on Dudley Leonora's sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the third, Davis cranked a leadoff double up the left field line, then motored all the way to third when Sammie Starr bunted for a single. Givens came to the plate third and hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Davis to score the tying run from third.
Down 3-2 after the Renegades posted one run in the top of the fifth, Aberdeen evened things up in the home half of the frame. Things did not start well, as Davis and Starr were retired to start the inning, but Givens took advantage off a two-out error, reaching second base after the Renegades pitcher threw away a grounder to him. Velleggia then strode to the plate and ripped the first pitch he saw to the corner in left, pushing Givens home and tying things up 3-3.
Davis went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and two runs. Givens was 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, while Sawyer was 1-for-4 with one run. Starr had one hit in the victory and Hoppy was 1-for-4 with a double and one run.
The IronBirds head out for a three-game road set with the State College Spikes beginning Tuesday, then return home of Friday night for a 7:05 p.m. home contest with Williamsport.