ABERDEEN, MD -- A furious rally by the IronBirds in the seventh inning came up just short as they fell, 6-5, splitting a two game set with Hudson Valley.
With the loss, Aberdeen was unable to take advantage of a loss by Brooklyn to Staten Island and remain a 1/2 game back in the McNamara division.
The IronBirds bats struggled for the majority of the game, getting just three hits in the first six innings of the game, with two coming in the first.
But they were able to get clutch hits from Mike Yastrzemski and Jeff Kemp in the ninth as part of a four run innning that pulled Aberdeen to within a run of the Hudson Valley at 6-5. Jared Breen also picked up a single in the inning and came around to score on Yastrzemski's two-run single. Ronarsy Ledesma, Trey Mancini and Conor Bierfeldt each drew walks in the inning and Federico Castagnini was hit by a pitch in the 10-batter inning. Bierfeldt's walk scored a run with the bases loaded.
The IronBirds fell behind in the second inning after jumping on top in the bottom of the first. Dylan Rheault had command issues in the frame, walking the leadoff hitter and hitting Ariel Soriano to put two men on. He induced James Harris to hit into what looked to be a ground ball double play to short stop but Breen was unable to field the ball cleanly and no out was recorded, loading the bases. John Alexander singled to center field, scoring two. After a sacrifice bunt by Julian Morillo, Julian Ridings put another run on the board on a sacrifice fly to center.
The Renegades would tack on another run in the third inning as they strung together four straight one-out singles capped off by Harris' RBI single to right field.
Hudson Valley knocked Rheault out of the game in the fourth inning when Johnny Field and
Omar Narvaez picked up RBI knocks with two down in the inning.
Conor Bierfeldt's bat stayed hot as he got the IronBirds off to a great start, lining an RBI triple to right field to score Trey Mancini all the way from first base. After Austin Wynns walked as the next batter, Aberdeen was unable to get a runner on base until the sixth inning.
Rheault's rocky outing turned into his second loss on the season as he moves to 0-2. He gave up nine hits and five earned runs, six total, in just 3 2/3 innings.
Chris Kirsch got the win for Hudson Valley in his longest outing of the season (6 1/3 inning). He kept IronBirds hitters at bay for the majority of the night, allowing just four hits.
Aaron Griffin put the fire out for the Renegades in the seventh, recording the third out of the inning. He pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings to pick up his first save of the season.
Of note in the game, Manager Matt Merullo was ejected in the top of the eighth inning for arguing a close call at third base. Harris hit a ball into the left field gap and looked to be thrown out at third by the Yastrzemski-Breen-Ledesma relay but called safe. Merullo argued but to no avail and was ejected for just his second time on the season.
The IronBirds (35-32) will travel to Brooklyn (37-33) for a two-game set over the weekend. The teams sit atop the standings, just a half game apart.
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