Aberdeen, MD- In a pitcher's duel, a solo home run by Conrad Gregor in the top of the ninth was the difference, as the IronBirds fell to the ValleyCats 1-0 in game one of the first round of the New York-Penn League.
Gregor blasted an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-centerfield off of IronBirds lefty Donnie Hart. It was the first batter Hart faced with one out in the ninth.
Aberdeen had the chance to rally in the bottom half but two singles couldn't yield the tying run. Trey Mancini crushed a ball into the left-centerfield gap but left fielder Jon Kemmer was playing him that way. Conor Bierfeldt laced a single up the middle but was caught stealing on a hit and run attempt with Austin Wynns at the plate. Wynns was unable to make contact with a first pitch breaking ball and Bierfeldt was thrown out by Jake Rodriguez on a close play at second for the second out of the inning. After Wynns singled, Ronarsy Ledesma came on to pinch hit but struck out to end the game.
Both teams got outstanding pitching, from both starters in particular.
IronBirds ace Sebastian Vader was outstanding. He pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits. He struck out six and didn't allow a walk.
The first hit against Vader came off the bat of leadoff hitter, James Ramsay who doubled deep down the left field line to start off the fourth inning. He moved over to third on Ryan Dineen's groundout to second. Tyler White made a bid to open the scoring with the infield in but was denied when his lined shot found the glove of Justin Viele. He got Conrad Gregor to groundout to escape the jam.
The only other trouble-spot Vader faced was in the eighth inning when he allowed two singles with one out. Once again he bared down, striking out Ramsay and getting Dineen to ground out to first.
In between the two jams, Vader retired 10 straight batters.
Michael Feliz was nearly his equal, not allowing a base runner in the first two innings. Federico Castagnini got the first hit of the game, pulling a single through the left side, just under the glove of third baseman Tyler White.
Feliz went seven strong, giving up just three hits. He had a dominant fastball-offspeed combination, striking out eight IronBirds hitters.
Chris Munnelly, who came on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning picked up the win. He gave up a hit and struck out one batter. Gonzalo Sanudo picked up the save, giving up two singles and striking out one.
Game two will be hosted by Tri-City in Troy, New York at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 pm. Hunter Harvey will get the start for the IronBirds. Kyle Westwood will start for the ValleyCats.
For ticket information, contact our box office at (410) 297-9292 or visit us online at www.IronBirdsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.