The 2022 season of Delmarva Shorebirds baseball was the 26th season of baseball for the club at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. The club welcomed 154,786 fans through the gates at Perdue Stadium with highlights including the debut of No. 1 Overall Pick Jackson Holliday and seven walk-off wins.
Following a successful 2021 campaign that saw the club go 68-52, the 2022 season saw a step back as far as wins and losses go, but there were still plenty of memorable moments that made the 2022 Shorebirds season an exceptionally enjoyable one. Five different Shorebirds made their Major League debuts and the majority of the 2022 Orioles draft class also suited up for Delmarva.
The Shorebirds started off their season with a three-game home set against the Fredericksburg Nationals. Led by Felipe Rojas Jr. in his first year as manager of the ‘Birds, opening night was a wild contest, as the ‘Birds rallied from a 5-1 deficit by scoring five in the seventh to claim an opening night 9-6 win.
The Shorebirds first road trip went smoothly enough as they split a six-game series at the Lynchburg Hillcats. Ramping up after signing late in the off-season, Denyi Reyes threw five innings for the ‘Birds on the road. Reyes made his Major League debut later in the season with the Orioles, becoming the 123rd Shorebird to reach the show.
Following the road trip, the ‘Birds won just one more game the rest of the month, ending April by dropping nine of their final 10 games. Delmarva did welcome Myrtle Beach for the first time in franchise history and then capped the month by venturing to Augusta and playing at new SRP park for the first time. Delmarva ended April with a record of 6-14.
Darell Hernaiz was the star of the show for the ‘Birds in the month, slashing .322/.365/.644 with an OPS of 1.009. Hernaiz hit five homers in the month, nearly equaling his 2021 output of six.
Eventual fan favorite Creed Willems made his debut during the road trip in Augusta, throwing out two base runners in his very first game, starting the love affair between the Eastern Shore and their mullet laden hero.
The struggles for the ‘Birds continued into May, dropping nine of their first 12 games in the month. The month was flipped on its head however by a heroic performance by Isaac Bellony on May 15 against the Salem Red Sox. Bellony drove in five runs that day, including a game-tying RBI double in the ninth, followed by a walk-off three-run homer in the 11th as the ‘Birds won 8-7, snapping a five-game losing streak. The momentum carried into the next week as the ‘Birds won their first series of the season, taking five out of six from the Fredericksburg Nationals, running a winning streak out to a season high five games.
While the ‘Birds went on to then lose their next five in a row at the start of a road trip against the Charleston RiverDogs, the streak was again snapped with aplomb by Bellony. On May 29, Bellony hit for the first cycle in recorded Shorebirds history, doing the feat naturally in order. He finished the game 5-for-5 with four RBI.
The Shorebirds went 10-16 in May with their record standing at 16-30. Darell Hernaiz earned a promotion to High-A Aberdeen during the month (he finished the year at Double-A Bowie). Bellony naturally led the offense with four homers and 20 driven in.
The Shorebirds slogged through June before being hit by a bolt of lightning in the form of OF Heston Kjerstad. Kjerstad’s professional debut had been put on hold for two seasons due to various injuries, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft finally debuted on June 10 for the Shorebirds.
Despite having missed the better part of two years, Kjerstad was simply sensational in his first month. He hit .429 with a homer and 11 driven, getting on base at a .500 clip.
June also saw the addition of Frederick Bencosme to the ‘Birds roster. A wizard at the plate, the 19-year-old hit .354 in his first month of full-season baseball.
18-year-old wonder-kid Deivy Cruz made his first appearance with the ‘Birds in the month as well. A slender left, Cruz went on to be one of the leading arms for the ‘Birds the rest of the season.
Despite the new additions, the Shorebirds continued to struggle and closed out the first half with a record of 21-44 and finished June going 6-19, putting their overall record at 22-49.
July saw more of the same for the Shorebirds as far as performances go, with Kjerstad and Bencosme continuing to tear the league apart while other names joined in on the fun.
For the first time since 2019, the ‘Birds were home on July 4th, welcoming one of their biggest crowds of the year to one of their best games. In front of 5,689, the Shorebirds walked it-off over the Red Sox, 4-3 in 10 innings. It kicked off a week of close calls, as the ‘Birds captured two more walk-off wins later in the week, one on a Luis Valdez walk-off walk and the other a Noelberth Romero single, as the ‘Birds took five of six from Salem.
Prior to the All-Star break, the ‘Birds split a series with the Carolina Mudcats before restarting play by getting swept by the Fredericksburg Nationals. The ‘Birds rebounded to take five out of six from Lynchburg on the road to close the month at 12-12, their first month of the season playing .500 baseball.
Heston Kjerstad continued to rake at the start of the month, hitting .542 before being promoted to High-A. Frederick Bencosme hit .369 in the month with a .960 OPS. Top-30 Orioles prospect Reed Trimble made his return to Delmarva while Trendon Craig (.286/.375/.343) played himself into a promotion to Aberdeen by the time the month was out.
Deivy Cruz led the way on the mound during the month, going1-0 with a .098 ERA in 18.1 innings, cementing himself as one of the top young arms in the Orioles organization.
August was a massive month of change and upheaval for the Shorebirds, as the entire roster was essentially turned over after the first two weeks of the month.
Gone were names like Luis Valdez, who finished his time with the Shorebirds with 59 stolen bases, placing him second in franchise history for a single season. Frederick Bencosme was likewise promoted to Aberdeen as was Isaac De Leon who capped his 2022 ‘Birds tenure by hitting .283 in August, with six doubles and two homers in just 14 games. De Leon departed from the ‘Birds as the qualified leader in most offensive categories.
On August 16, the Shorebirds welcome the first wave of 2022 Orioles draftees as top picks Dylan Beavers, Jud Fabian, and Max Wagner led a group of over 10 draft picks on to the ‘Birds roster. The first game saw the new look ‘Birds offense explode, as they won 17-10 over Salem. It was just the start for the new group, as they averaged over eight runs per game in their first series together against Salem.
The addition of draft picks on August 16 was just the start, as the Shorebirds continued to load up on new talent once they returned home on August 23. Six pitchers who were a part of the Orioles 2022 draft haul (including 5th Rounder Trace Bright) were added to the roster as well as 17th Round infielder Carter Young who set the record for highest signing bonus ever given out to a 17th round pick. The Shorebirds welcomed their new cast to Perdue Stadium with an 8-7 walk-off win over Lynchburg on August 23, with Dylan Beavers providing the game-winning single in the 10th.
The fun of new additions was only getting started however. On August 25th, 2022 first overall pick Jackson Holliday was placed onto the Shorebirds roster and made his Delmarva debut. The son of former All-Star Matt Holliday, Jackson became the 2nd Orioles first overall pick to play for the Shorebirds, following Adley Rutschman in 2019. Holliday smoked an RBI double in his debut, as 5,632 fans flocked out to Perdue Stadium to see the historic moment.
While new names and faces drew most of the attention, fan-favorite Creed Willems provided the one of the moments of the season on August 26. Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of ninth and down to their final out, the Shorebirds had two runners on as Willems stepped to the plate. Willems socked a walk-off three-run homer to win the game 4-2 for the ‘Birds, their second (of an eventual three) walk-off wins that week. So beloved the Shorebirds faithful, Willems got a curtain call and standing ovation even after the game was done.
After starting the month 3-9, the ‘Birds went 7-7 the rest of the month as the new additions helped the ‘Birds right the ship.
With the end of the season rolling around, the ‘Birds ended the season on a high note. The ‘Birds went 6-3 in September to close out the season at 49-81 which put them mere decimal points ahead in winning percentage of the 2012 Shorebirds team (55-85) to avoid the infamy of worst season in Shorebirds history.
Some highlights to end the season included Ryan Long stringing together a 21 inning scoreless streak from July through September and Juan Nunez finishing the year on an 11 inning scoreless run.
In all, the ‘Birds saw over 150,000 fans come through the turnstiles in the 2022 season. 83 different players suited up for the Shorebirds during the campaign including the majority of the 2022 Orioles draft class with first overall pick Jackson Holliday leading the way. Five former Shorebirds (Felix Bautista, Denyi Reyes, Nick Vespi, Adley Rutschman, DL Hall) made their Major League debuts as well. The 26th season of Shorebirds baseball was another exciting one for the record books and the entire organization can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store!