ABERDEEN, MD - Despite holding the lead throughout the middle innings, the Tri-City ValleyCats were unable to overcome a three-run rally from the Aberdeen IronBirds Tuesday evening. Aberdeen opened up the first of nine scheduled meetings between the two squads in 2019 with a 4-3 win at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Looking to keep momentum rolling from Monday's extra inning 2-1 victory over Staten Island at home, the ValleyCats (1-3) held the IronBirds (3-2) hitless until the fifth inning of play, with starting pitcher Manny Ramirez tossing four and two-third scoreless innings while striking out five, walking four and allowing an earned run. After leaving men on-base in the first two innings in the ensuring pitcher's duel between Ramirez and Aberdeen starter Leonardo Rodriguez, Tri-City used the middle innings to plate runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth, scoring first and holding an in-game lead for the first time this season.
Having reached third without scoring in two of the first three contests of the year, ValleyCats leftfielder Juanrael Paulino continued his infamous streak, but not without getting his team on the board in the top of the fourth. The 2017 draft pick laced a one-out triple to left field to score newly signed 2019 draftee Zach Biermann, who was one of four new ValleyCat roster members who notched their first professional hit in the ballgame.
After singling to get on base in the top of the fifth, 2019 34th round selection AJ Lee cashed in his first base-knock by scoring from third on a wild pitch from Rodriguez to give Tri-City a 2-0 advantage. The IronBirds would use the bottom of the frame to get on the board, with centerfielder Johnny Rizer sending home third baseman Toby Welk on an RBI single to left to make it 2-1.
2019 first round selection Korey Lee was the final ValleyCat to cross the plate, extanding the 'Cats lead to three off an RBI single from sixth rounder Matthew Barefoot. The play occured two at-bats after Lee hit safely for the first time in his professional journey after beating out an infield single to kick off the sixth inning. Following the entrance of Tri-City right-handed reliever Julio Robaina, the IronBirds completed the comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning, using RBI singles from Welk and designated hitter Juan Montes to plate three more runs and grab hold of a lead that they would never relinquish. Robaina (0-1) was tagged with the loss in his ValleyCat debut, giving up three runs (two earned) on two hits in two innings on the mound, while striking out three and walking a pair.
Aberdeen right-hander Juan Echevarria (1-0) struck out two and allowed just one eared run on five hits, while Felix Bautista earned a two-inning save while striking out two and issuing three free passes.
Following the defeat, Tri-City will look to even up the three-game series with the IronBirds Wednesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from Aberdeen. The ValleyCats return home for a three-game home stand against Stedler Division rival Vermont this weekend, beginning Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.