Aberdeen, Md. - The Aberdeen IronBirds stunningly rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Williamsport Crosscutters 4-3 on Monday night thus completing a three-game series sweep.
Williamsport was one out away from victory but a bizarre finish unfolded as closer Alejandaro Made was charged with three balks, manager Pat Borders was ejected, and an infield single brought around the winning run from second base after the throw home got away from catcher Logan O'Hoppe on the attempted tag.
Starting pitcher Tom Sutera was tremendous to start with four strong innings allowing one hit in the first inning while striking out four. He recorded 11 consecutive outs to conclude his performance. The 6'5" righty out of Siena College has issued only one walk in 21.2 innings.
He was matched zero-for-zero by Aberdeen starter Ryan Conroy who dealt six shutout innings while allowing four hits.
The Cutters looked like a good bet to open the scoring in the top of the sixth after Herbert Iser walked and stole second base .But Logan O'Hoppe's fly to right was caught on a tremendous diving play by Tristan Graham to end the inning. The great catch was one of several strong defensive plas on the night by the IronBirds.
Reliever Carlos Francisco worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to preserve the scoreless deadlock. Ian Evans smashed a hard line out to shortstop Bryson Stott and then Graham hit a lazy fly out to strand the three runners.
Hunter Markwardt hit a long fly out to right-center in the seventh that brought in two runs on the sacrifice including D.J. Stewart from second who hustled all the way around while the outfielder had to get back up to his feet. That broke the 0-0 tie. Trey Truitt's over-the-shoulder leaping effort for the catch in deep right-center was another stellar defensive play for the IronBirds but Stewart's heads-up base-running turned it into a two-run play.
Aberdeen put together another string of base-runners in the bottom of the seventh with Dalton Hoiles legging out an infield single to drive in the team's first run of the night. Reliever Jake Kinney replaced Carlos Francisco and somehow worked out of a bases-loaded mess with no outs with a couple force-outs and a lazy fly out in which Aberdeen didn't attempt a tag up. It was the second consecutive inning in which the Birds left them loaded.
Logan O'Hoppe helped pad the lead to 3-1 with his RBI double to the gap in left-center in the eighth bringing around Herbert Iser from first base.
Aberdeen had a pair of runners in the eighth but Kinney again pushed through finishing the inning with a strike out of Dalton Hoiles on a fastball.
Alejandro Made surrendered a lead-off home run to Trey Truitt in the bottom of the ninth cutting Williamsport's lead to 3-2. But two outs later the Cutters were on the verge of an exciting win.
But after Toby Welk singled to left to keep the Birds alive, Made was charged with consecutive balks to advance the tying man to third. Ian Evans singled to center to plate pinch-runner Zach Evans with the tying run just as the Cutters were only one strike away from victory.
When Made was charged with his third balk of the game, after being called for only one balk all season, that brought out the ire and frustration of manager Pat Borders who was ejected from the game.
Tristan Graham's grounder was fielded smartly at shortstop by Bryson Stott but D.J. Stewart's long stretch to receive the throw wasn't enough to record the out. After initially pausing at third base, the runner Evans decided to give it a try. Stewart's throw home easily beat the runner but Evans stayed on his feet and dodged to the foul side of the plate while O'Hoppe attempted to reach back and tag him. In so doing, the ball slithered out of his glove giving Evans enough time to double-back and step on the plate for the winning run in the bizarre finish.
The Crosscutters have a day off Tuesday and return to BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The game is expected to mark the home debut for Phillies first-rounder Bryson Stott while 20-year-old right-hander from Taiwan, Hsin-Chieh Lin, is scheduled as the starting pitcher for the Cutters.
Kendall Simmons returned from injury and was in the lineup for the first time in ten days playing at second base.
Aberdeen stranded eight runners in just the 6th, 7th and 8th innings combined and left 11 runners on base in the entire game.
Tonight was the second ejection of the season for manager Pat Borders.
Crosscutters starters have a combined ERA of 0.96 in the last 12 games since July 3 (4 earned runs in 37.2 innings)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.