ABERDEEN, MD- In the longest game of the IronBirds season, the Birds fall to the Tri-City ValleyCats 13-9 after the teams played tag with the score throughout the nine innings. IronBirds ran through four pitchers and took the lead twice, but were unable to obtain it for the win.
IronBirds starting pitcher Lex Rutledge allowed two runs in the top of the first and gave Tri-City an early 2-0 lead. ValleyCat SS Joe Scalafani plated the first run off an RBI single from CF Andrew Alpin. RF Preston Tucker brought in Alpin from third in an RBI single.
Birds retaliated in the bottom of the first and concluded the inning leading 3-2. Gregory Lorenzo led off with a single, followed by a single from Lucas Herbst. In the three-hole, Creede Simpson hit a 3RBI and his first home run of the season over the left field wall and gave the IronBirds the lead.
After yielding three runs in the top of the second, LHP Rutledge retired with only one out. C Mike Cokinos scored after Aplin reached on a fielder's choice by SS Anthony Caronia. LF Jarrod McKinney and 2B Austin Elkins were brought in by a ground ball single from 1B Jesse Wierzbicki. Relief RHP Sander Beck (1-3, 2.92 ERA) allowed one run from Alpin, who came in on a fly ball single to LF Anthony Vega from Heineman.
Back at the top of the lineup in the bottom of the third, Lorenzo reached after being hit by a pitch from RHP Velasquez. Lorenzo advanced to third on a line drive to center field from RF Herbst. Lorenzo tagged and scored on a sacrifice fly to CF Alpin from Creede Simpson, his fourth in the game. IronBirds ended the third down 6-4.
ValleyCat RHP John Neely () relieved an injured Velasquez in the bottom of the fourth after Velasquez loaded the bases off a single and back-to-back walks. With Neely on the mound, IronBirds tied up the game 6-6. Leadoff batter Lorenzo reached off a fielding error by 3B Neiko Johnson and allowed Howard to score. Herbst brought in Vega on a sac fly to right field.
The Birds and Cats played tag in the fifth, each posted one run and tied the score 7-7. In the bottom of the sixth, back-to-back triples from Vega and Caronia help the IronBirds into a 9-7 lead. Vega hit his fourth triple of the season to start the inning and was brought in by Caronia's second triple of the season. RHP Kenny Long replaced Neely after Lorenzo brought Caronia, to advance the score 9-7.
ValleyCats pulled a five run rally in the top of the seventh. IronBirds RHP Kenneth Wise exited the game after allowing the ValleyCats to notch two more runs and tie up. IronBirds fourth pitcher, relief Jesse Fernandez, gave up three more runs before closing out the inning with a Tri-City 12-9 lead.
The ValleyCats cap off the score 13-9 with a run in the top of the ninth.
Kenny Long (1-1) takes the win for the ValleyCats, while Kenneth Wise (1-2) takes the loss.
The IronBirds and ValleyCats will return to Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on Wednesday night for the second of three games. Aberdeen will turn to RHP Sabastian Vader (1-5, 5.08) while RHP Aaron West (6-0, 1.05) will take the mound for Tri-City. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. on the IronBirds Radio Network.
For tickets, call the IronBirds box office at (410) 297-9292 or go online to www.ironbirdsbaseball.com.