Aberdeen Falls Just Short of Playoffs

'Birds Finish with Winning Season Under Kyle Moore

July162018. The Aberdeen Ironbirds Play at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium. (J. Kelley Dentry)

By Michael Lehr / Aberdeen IronBirds | September 4, 2018 1:12 AM

Aberdeen concluded the 2018 season on Monday, September 3rd with an 8-7 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades. They finished the year with a record of 38-37, the second winning season in a row.

When asked about his favorite games this season, Manager Kyle Moore summed things up perfectly. "It's a two game tie, first win and last win. Last because it secured a winning season and we had to battle until the last pitch." From the first pitch to the last, here is your 2018 season in review:

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FOR STARTERS: This team changed a lot over the 2018 season. Opening day featured 28 active players. The staff remained constant. Spearheaded by first year Manager Kyle Moore, Hitting Coach Tim Raines Jr., Pitching Coach Mark Hendrickson, and Field Coach Ramon Sambo. Chris Cecere was the Performance Enhancing Director and Gary Smith was the Athletic Trainer.

Across 75 games, 24 different position players took the field along with 29 different pitchers. Ten 2018 draftees, five MLB.com top 30 prospects, and representatives from six different countries wore the orange and black this summer.

Game one was against the Hudson Valley Renegades. Eight IronBirds that played in that game were still on the roster when the season came to an end. 

FIRST OF MANY: Moore got his first managerial win in the third game of the season. It came in dramatic fashion with a walk off base hit by MiLB rehabber Randolph Gassaway to score Robbie Thorburn as a pinch runner. J.C. Escarra had his first homer as an IronBird and Willy Yahn had his first multi-hit game.

LONG ONE: One of the most memorable days of June was the team's first doubleheader in Lowell, MA. It was 95 degrees in Lowell, and after more than six hours of baseball each team had a victory. Aberdeen had 14 hits in game one and lost on a walk-off, game two was a 9-1 win where the IronBirds scored seven runs on two hits in the 7th inning.

JUST FINE JUNE: Through the end of June, the IronBirds were up and down but sat right around the .500 mark. They lost the first two series and won the next two, but finished June with a 7-8 start.

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JUGGLING JULY: July was a much tougher month. Overall, the 'Birds went 12-16, posted a 3.71 ERA and hit .247 as a team. At the end of the month the Aberdeen was 23-31, 9.5 games back of a playoff spot.

BATTLING 'BIRDS: One of the most heated defensive games of the year came at Brooklyn on July 5th. Gray Fenter got the start an went six solid innings. Brooklyn loaded the bases with no outs in the 5th when Aberdeen was up 2-0. Adam Hall and Doran Turchin made two incredible defensive plays back to back to shut them down. In the 7th they loaded the bases again with no outs, and Ryan Conroy retired the only three batters he saw to help Aberdeen get a 2-1 win and get his first of six saves.

That would be the second of three wins and the first sweep for the IronBirds in 2018.

TOUGH STRETCH: After leaving Brooklyn, Aberdeen lost 12 of the next 13 games, including seven in a row from July 15th to 24th.

The losing streak snapped on Matt Hammond's four inning, one run start and Kevin Magee three scoreless frames of relief. Ryan Conroy and Brandon Bonilla each threw an inning to seal an IronBirds win.

FIREWORK FINISH: Another game in Brooklyn will ring a bell in July. It was back and forth all night. Robert Nuestrom had a absolute blast of a homer at 105 MPH, Escarra scored on a wild pitch in the 10th, and Ryan Conroy took the mound. As he tried to get the save, fireworks started just over the centerfield wall. He battled through it and got Aberdeen a 5-4 win.

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FINALLY AUGUST: Turning the page in the calendar was all Aberdeen needed, as they absolutely caught fire August. As a team they performed better in nearly every aspect of the game. Here are the final stats from the month (Compared to July).

 

Batting Average: .260 (+.013)

Runs Scored: 143 (+48)

Homeruns: 13 (+6)

Stolen Bases: 27 (+9)

ERA: 3.61 (-0.10)

Walks: 77 (-16)

Strikeouts: 237 (+44)

 

August Record: 18-11

 

CARMONA'S WALK OFF: A pitching battle between Hector Guance and Yankee's top prospect Clarke Schmidt set up a dramatic finish for the 'Birds. Jean Carmona was playing in his first home game for Aberdeen after being traded from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Johnathan Schoop trade. With Jaylen Ferguson on third he punched a single into right field and walked off a 2-1 win.

FIVE ALL-STARS: Five IronBirds were selected for the NYPL all star game, with outstanding seasons at the time of selection. Escarra ranked second in the NYPL with a .426 OBP. He led the team with 5 homeruns and was chasing the RBI lead with 18. Lefty Matt Hammonds got the nod with a 2-2 record and a 2.47 ERA. In 8 starts he had thrown 43.2 IP with opponents hitting just .187 against him. Robbie Thorburn was among the most consistent through the break with a .303 average over the 41 games. Thorburn had not committed an error in the outfield and hit .375 in the first inning of games. Catcher Cody Roberts was second among NYPL catchers with a .301 average and seven RBIs. Roberts joined the IronBirds late after playing in the College World series and made an immediate impact behind the dish. Aberdeen's everyday third baseman, Willy Yahn, never went more than two games without a hit, only doing that once. He led the team with 19 RBIs, 8 steals at the break.

With 22 games to go, Aberdeen was 10.5 games out of the New-York Penn League wild card race.

"THE BIRDS ARE HOT:" That was al you could say for a while with this team. It started with six (or seven) straight wins. Across the streak Aberdeen outscored there opponents 45-16 and had a blast doing it. Brendan Arredondo had a grand slam, Hall was on his his streak, Gray Fenter provided a complete game shutout, J.J. Montgomery got his first save, and all of the sudden Aberdeen was two games back of .500.

HALL'S HISTORIC STREAK: From August 4th until August 28th, Adam Hall went on a historic tear through the league. He had hits in 19 games in a row, with a .456 batting average and a .526 on base percentage. Across the run he had four doubles, two triples and his first homer as an IronBird along with 12 RBIs. He struggled to start the season with a batting average as low as .179 on July 7th, but finished the year at .293 and showed us all why he's a top prospect.

EVERY GAME MATTERS: With eight games to go, the IronBirds were absolutely in the hunt for the wild card and were the hottest team in the league. They came home from taking two out of three in Tri-City with victory on the mind. Five games in three days were scheduled between the 'Birds and the Connecticut Tigers. Aberdeen took three of the first four, and rained out game five really hurt their chances to get to the winning percentage they needed.

In Hudson Valley for the final three games, they needed to sweep and the Auburn Doubledays needed to lose two out of three for the wild card spot to go to the 'Birds. Neither of the two happened, but the last game of the season was electric.

HOW IT SHOULD END: On Labor Day in Hudson Valley, the starters that carried the 2018 season got the nod from Moore and played their hearts out. Nine different IronBirds got hits. Hall, Escarra, Ian Evans, Nuestrom, Roberts, Yahn and Alexis Torres all had RBIs. Escarra became the best IronBird hitter of all time. Zach Matson retired the side with the bases loaded to keep the 'Birds up one, Josh Keaton got the win and Moises Nolasco got his first save. It came down to the final out, where Willy Yahn made a diving stop and gunned the ball across the infield to seal an 8-7 IronBird win.

As a team the IronBirds finished the year 38-37 with a .507 winning percentage. They hit .248 at a team (4th in the NYPL) with a 3.81 ERA (12th).

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2018 Statistical Leaders:

(NYPL Top 10)

BATTERS

Batting Average: J.C. Escarra, .331 (2nd)

On Base Percentage: J.C. Escarra, .417 (2nd)

Slugging Percentage: J.C. Escarra, .571 (1st)

On Base Plus Slugging: J.C. Escarra, .929

Hits: Willy Yahn, 66 (8th)

Doubles: Robert Neustrom, 16 (T-5th)

Triples: Adam Hall, 3 (

Homeruns: J.C. Escarra, 6 

Runs Batted In: J.C. Escarra, 34

Walks: Alexis Torres, 22

Stolen Bases: Adam Hall, 22 (2nd)

 

STARTING PITCHERS

ERA: Jimmy Murphy, 3.53 (9th)

Innings Pitched: Hector Guance, 72.1 (4th)

Wins: Hector Guance, 7 (T-2nd)

Shutouts: Gray Fenter, 1 (T-1st)

Strikeouts: Matt Hammonds, 62 

Walks+Hits Per Inning Pitched: Matt Hammonds, 1.15 (7th)

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

ERA: Kevin Magee, 1.51

Innings Pitched: Kevin Magee, 35.2

Wins: Kevin Magee and Josh Keaton, 3

Shutouts: Tyler Joyner, 1

Strikeouts: Josh Keaton, 40

Walks+Hits Per Inning Pitched: Zach Matson, 0.95

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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