Janser Severino is a man on a mission and pitched like it on Friday night.
The Orioles prospect tied a career high with nine strikeouts and gave up three hits over six scoreless innings as short-season Aberdeen opened the New York-Penn League season with a 2-1 loss at Hudson Valley.
Severino, who did not figure in the decision, walked one and faced one batter over the minimum for the IronBirds. He was helped by his defense, which turned three double plays behind him.
"You know, basically we are just trying to get all of our pitchers to keep their pitches down, move his fastball in and out and pitch to contact," Aberdeen pitching coach Justin Lord said. "Very efficient, just went right after hitters."
The 22-year-old right-hander fanned nine to match the career high he established on Aug. 15, 2011 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
"His slider was good, he threw a good changeup and he a got a couple of strikeouts on his fastball, too," Lord said. "He was using his fastball effectively."
Severino is back in the New York-Penn League after appearing in 18 games there a year ago. The native of the Dominican Republic made nine starts and was 3-4 with a 3.92 ERA.
"He's really matured as a pitcher," Lord said. "He doesn't try to throw it by guys anymore. He wasn't trying to strike them out by throwing as hard as he could.
"He's a guy, I wasn't the pitching coach here last year, but I know he pitched here last year. I think [tonight's start] was a big step for his confidence. I think he's on a little bit of a mission this year to prove that he can pitch and pitch at a higher level. I think it's really big."
Derrick Bleeker followed Severino and gave up a hit over two scoreless innings. Nick Nowottnick surrendered two runs on two hits while recording two outs in the ninth.
Hector Velez gave Aberdeen a short-lived lead with a solo homer in the eighth, but Hudson Valley's Hunter Lockwood capped a three-hit night with a two-run walk-off homer.
Isaac Gil (1-0) got the win after working around a hit in the top of the ninth.