ABERDEEN, MD - Three members of the Tri-City ValleyCats registered multi-hit games, as the team avoided what would have been their second series sweep to open up the 2019 campaign. The 'Cats went ahead early to take a 10-7 win over the Aberdeen IronBirds at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland Thursday evening.
Jetting out to its largest lead of the season thus far, Tri-City (2-4) put up seven unanswered runs in the game's first four innings, with a pair of long balls starting things off in the top of the second. Third baseman Joe Perez and left fielder C.J. Stubbs each took a ball deep for the first time in their professional careers, with Stubbs' two-run shot coming just hours after the 2019 10th round pick was placed on the active roster. The top half of the fourth brought four insurance runs for the defending champs, with Perez crossing the plate for the second time after second basemen A.J. Lee was plunked, outfielder Matthew Barefoot scoring on an RBI groundout from Preston Pavlica, Stubbs coming home on a wild pitch and Lee crossing the plate off a sacrifice fly from first baseman Zach Biermann.
Steadied by five innings of scoreless ball from starting pitcher Valente Bellozo, the 'Cats were cruising until the home half of the sixth, when the IronBirds (4-3) used the next two frames to plate four runs and come within three of the lead. Left fielder Jaylen Furguson gave the home team their own two-run homer, while first baseman Ian Evans came home on a wild pitch and center fielder Trey Truitt scored on an RBI single.
After things settled down for the eighth, both offenses came alive in the final inning to push across three runs apiece. The ValleyCats forced a pitching change and ended up with a pair of RBI singles from catcher Nate Perry and outfielder Yefri Carrillo and a fielding error that allowed designated hitter Korey Lee to score for the third straight night. With runners on first and second and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, Tri-City called on 2019 30th rounder Michael Horrell to come in and finish the job. Despite both runners scoring, Horrell limited the damage to just one run of his own, striking out Ferguson to end the game.
Bellozo (1-0) earned his first win as a ValleyCats pitcher in the affair, Striking out five batters and allowing just two hits in 5.0 innings of shutout ball. Aberdeen starter Kevin Magee (0-2) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits in just two innings on the bump, striking out one batter. Perez steadied the team offensively with a monster performance, going three-for-four with a pair of runs scored and as many RBI.
Following the win over their McNamara Division foes, the ValleyCats will now head back north for a three-game home stand against Stedler Division rival Vermont this weekend, beginning Friday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. The Lake Monsters took both games of a two-game season-opening series in Burlington June 14-15.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.