ABERDEEN, MD- In a pitcher's duel of every sense of the expression, the 'Cats got a 9th inning home run off the bat of Conrad Gregor to defeat the IronBirds 1-0 on Friday Night. The 'Cats take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three Semi-Final matchup and head back to Troy for Game 2 on Saturday Night, and if necessary, Game 3 on Sunday.
Through the first 7-innings, Tri-City starter Michael Feliz retired 18-of-22 IronBirds batters, and Aberdeen starter Sebastian Vader 19-of-20 'Cats hitters. Feliz got the no-decision in a truly masterful performance. He threw seven innings, giving up just three hits and zero runs, while walking none and striking out eight. Vader was equally as impressive. Vader threw 8 1/3 innings, giving up five hits, no runs, walking zero and striking out six.
Both teams had their chances to score during the game, but failed to push any runs across until the Gregor homer in the 9th.
Ramsay began the 4th inning with a double off the left field wall, but the 'Cats couldn't produce a run. The IronBirds had an opportunity in the 5th inning, as Austin Wynns led-off with a single to right field. Breen then struck out swinging for the first out, and with Castagnini batting, Wynns stole second. Castagnini then flew out to right field for the second out. Feliz hit Viele to put runners on first and second, but Manny Hernandez struck out to end the threat.
In the 7th inning, Tyler White singled to right with one out, and Gregor, who has been a big part of the 'Cats stretch run, followed with another single up the middle. With runners on first and second, Ronnie Mitchell hit a shallow fly out to center for the second out of the inning. Yonathan Mejia pinch hit for designated hitter Brett Booth and flew out to center to end the threat.
The 'Cats had another great opportunity in the eighth, as the 'Cats put runners on first and second with one out, but Ramsay struck out and Dineen grounded out to end the inning. Chris Munnelly entered the ballgame for Feliz in the bottom half of the eighth, giving up just one-hit and striking out one in the inning.
Sebastian Vader came out to begin the 9th inning, and got the first out before the IronBirds went to their closer, Donnie Hart to face Conrad Gregor. Gregor greeted him with a monster blast over the right-field wall for the first run of the ballgame, putting the 'Cats ahead 1-0.
'Cats closer, Gonzalo Sanudo came on to close out the ballgame in the 9th inning, but it didn't come without some tense moments. After Sanudo got Mancini to line out to left field for the first out, Conor Bierfeldt hit a broken bat single up the middle, and the IronBirds had the tying run on-base, and winning run at the plate in Austin Wynns.
In a questionable move, Bierfeldt attempted to steal second base, but was gunned down by catcher Jake Rodriguez for the second out. That loomed large, as Wynns hit a sharp single to left, putting the tying run back on base with two outs. Sanudo ended the threat by getting pinch-hitter Ronarsy Ledesma to strike out swinging for the final out of the ballgame.
The 'Cats will send RHP Kyle Westwood to mound on Saturday night in Troy for Game 2, as they look to advance to the New York-Penn League Championship Series. The IronBirds counter with 18-year old RHP Hunter Harvey, the Orioles first round pick in this years' MLB Draft. Gametime on Saturday night is 7pm, and 5pm on Sunday if necessary.