Aberdeen, MD- After jumping out to an early lead, the IronBirds withstood a Staten Island charge, as the IronBirds won 5-4 and earned their 27th win of the season.
After a 1-2-3 first inning from starter LHP Steve Brault, the IronBirds' offense got right to work. Sam Kimmel led off with a solid single to right, advancing to second on an error and third on a Trey Mancini single. Kimmel then scored on a wild pitch, and Conor Bierfeldt snuck an RBI double down the left field line, scoring Mancini. Through a combination of clutch hitting and Staten Island miscues, the IronBirds had grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Brault retired the side in the second, but ran into trouble in the third, giving up three consecutive singles to load the bases. But Brault limited the damage, allowing just one run to score in the inning after inducing a double play off the bat of second baseman Derek Toadvine.
In the bottom of the third, the IronBirds put on a power display. With two outs in the inning, Mancini hit a long home run that hooked around the left field foul pole. Bierfeldt followed Mancini's blast with one of his own, an opposite field shot that just cleared the fence in straightaway right. The back-to-back home runs marked the first time the IronBirds had gone back to back all season.
RHP Sebastian Vader relieved Brault, and battled despite lacking his best stuff on the evening. He was touched for single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. His defense worked hard to limit the damage, managing a spectacular 1-5-6-3 double play in the fifth inning.
In the seventh, the Yankees drew even, as Daniel Lopez knocked a two-out triple to left-center, and scored on a Toadvine single to right.
But the IronBirds would push back ahead in the bottom half of the frame. Jared Breen was hit by a pitch to start the inning, reached second on a Manny Hernandez single, and advanced to third on a double play. With Breen on third, a passed ball allowed him to scamper home with the go-ahead run.
Vader stayed on for the eighth, and had his strongest inning of the outing. He struck out the first two men he faced, then induced a long flyout off the bat of Mike O'Neill, ending the frame. Vader would earn the win, pitching 5 innings of 3-run ball, striking out 6 while walking only one.
Donnie Hart came on for the ninth, and went on to record his second save of the season, though the inning was not without its drama. In the ninth, the Yankees put two on with one out before Hart rolled a 6-4-3 double play (the IronBirds' record-tying 4th double play of the game) to give the Birds the win.
The IronBirds move to 27-24 overall, and with the win, guarantee that they stay in sole possession of first place for at least another day. They play the second game of this two-game set tomorrow, sending RHP Janser Severino (1-4, 3.97 ERA) to the mound. They will face off against RHP David Palladino (1-2, 4.36 ERA).
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.