Aberdeen, MD - The IronBirds came out on the losing end of a pitchers' duel in the finale of their two game set with the Hudson Valley Renegades, dropping the game 1-0.
For Aberdeen (30-27), the loss -- paired with the Brooklyn Cyclones' (31-29) win tonight over the Staten Island Yankees -- shrinks their lead in the McNamara division to just a 1/2 game. The IronBirds are five games behind the leaders in the wild card standings so winning the division is almost mandatory for their playoff hopes.
Hunter Harvey, making his first start since being promoted to Aberdeen, was outstanding on the mound. Harvey, the Orioles' First Round pick in the 2013 Draft, consistently threw his fastball at 93 to 94 and touched 95 a couple times. He showed off an excellent breaking ball and sprinkled in a couple changeups.
On the night, Harvey worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up four hits -- two of which were infield singles -- while striking out five and walking just one. He was saddled with the loss after being charged with the lone run of the game.
Harvey left in the top of the fourth inning, after throwing 76 pitches, with runners on first and third. He gave up a lead-off single and a walk sandwiched around a hard ground out before his night was ended. Dylan Rheault came into the game in relief for Harvey. He allowed the runner at third to score on a errant pickoff throw to first. The run would be charged to Harvey's line, scored as an unearned run.
Despite taking the loss, Harvey showed why the Orioles took him 22nd overall in this year's draft. "When you're taking a pitcher in the first round, you're trying to identify that guy as a number one or number two starter. A top of the rotation guy. And that's what he looked like," said IronBirds Manager Matt Merullo.
Hudson Valley starting pitcher Chris Kirsch was equal to the task, pitching six scoreless innings. The southpaw allowed just three hits and walk. He kept IronBirds hitters off-balance, striking out five and forcing the IronBirds to ground into two double plays.
Anthony Tzamtzis came on in the seventh inning to pitch for the Renegades. He did his part to hold the Aberdeen offense hitless while walking two. He erased both walks by inducing clutch double plays in the eighth and ninth innings.
The IronBirds grounded into four double plays total, all in consecutive innings from the sixth to the ninth inning. On a night where the offense only managed three hits total, those double plays turned out to be even more costly.
Mike Yastrzemski had a solid night at the plate despite the lack of offense by the IronBirds. He went 2-for-4 with two singles but grounded into a deflating double play in the bottom of the ninth after hitter Jared Breen drew a lead-off walk.
Rheault pitched excellent out of the bullpen for the IronBirds as well. He gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out six in 4 2/3 innings pitched. After allowing the inherited runner at third, Granden Goetzman, to score on a wayward pickoff throw to first, ironically, he ended his night recording the last out on a pickoff of Goetzman at first for the last out in the top of the ninth.
These two teams both head north to Hudson Valley where they will play two more in this four-game home and home series. They meet Wednesday and Thursday night at Duchess Stadium at 7:05 p.m.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.