STATE COLLEGE - For nine innings, the Aberdeen Ironbirds and State College Spikes battled each other tooth-and-nail to a one-all deadlock in a game that featured outstanding play by both teams.
Unfortunately for the Spikes, as good as they were in the first nine innings, the tenth was all downhill as the wheels came off the wagon when the Ironbirds sent 10 men to the dish and came away with four runs for a 5-1 win.
"Defensively, yeah, we stayed locked in, but offensively, I thought we let them off the hook a couple of times," said Spikes manager Kimera Bartee. "We gave away a lot of at-bats where we were first-pitch war-hacking, popping balls up. The guy (Aberdeen pitcher Tyler Wilson) had a nice little cut piece going for himself and what we needed to do was to back down a little and play a little pepper with him and get something going.
Sentinel photo by STEVE MANUEL
State College Spikes third baseman Chris Lashmet tags out Aberdeen’s Kyle Hoppy during Wednesday’s game against Aberdeen at Lubrano Park in State College. Aberdeen scored four runs in the top of the tenth inning to win the game, 5-1.
The Ironbirds drew first blood in their first at-bat when with one out, Sammie Starr singled to center and Mychal Givens followed with a RBI triple to right when a shoestring catch attempt by Spike right fielder Junior Sosa came up short and the ball wound up at the base of the fence.
Trailing 1-0, the Spikes got themselves even when Ashley Ponce worked Wilson for a free pass and two outs later, Wes Freeman chased Ponce across the dish with a RBI triple to deep center field.
With Wilson and Spike righthander Nick Kingham matching each other pitch-for-pitch, the tie stayed in place until the tenth inning when the Ironbirds broke the deadlock on a lead-off double by Austin Goolsby and a RBI single to right by Adam Davis.
Picking up a little insurance, the Ironbirds tacked on three more runs for the 5-1 final.
For his outstanding, no-decision effort, Kingham worked six innings, allowing just the one earned run on three hits. He walked one and struck out a pair.
"No void," said Kingham about pitching well to a no-decision. "I just try to keep us in a good position to win the game and leave the rest up to the offense to score some runs. I feel that if I give us a chance to win, then I feel pretty good about myself and my effort. The wins and losses will come, so the no-decision is not a big deal."
Bartee was also happy with the effort he got from his starting pitcher.
"He gets the ball every fifth day and he keeps trucking along," said Bartee. "I know when I put him out there he will compete. The way he was going, he could have gone longer. Not only is he starting to mature as a pitcher, but as a man as well and that is good to see."
The Ironbirds showed their tendency to play small ball as they attempted no less than nine bunts that found their way to fair territory.
"If you look at their team, they are a bunting team," said Bartee. "I know a lot of the guys who are still on (the Orioles) staff and I know when they have guys who can run, they try and utilize that."
Bartee felt that the Ironbirds persistence to bunt was good for Kingham's effort to stay strong.
"It was keeping him (Kingham) on his toes and it was keeping him with a good lather going and giving him a good rhythm," said Bartee. "The more they bunted, the better he was getting so we were like, hey, keep bunting."
Kingham felt the Ironbirds might try the bunting game coming into the game.
"Early on, I felt they might try," Kingham said. "After they finally were successful in getting one down I thought they might try it again. We had some great defense behind me and I think they got the idea that we could field the bunt pretty well."
The same two teams will conclude the three-game series tonight with a single game beginning at 7:05 p.m. Trent Stevenson (0-1) gets the call on the bump for the Spikes, while the Ironbirds give the ball to Trent Howard (3-1).
Notes: Spikes lead-off hitter Wes Freeman is on fire with the stick. He came into last night's game hitting .421 with seven RBI in nine games in August..Dan Gamache joined the Spikes. Gamache was the Pirates' sixth round pick in the 2011 draft..Taylor Lewis is tied with Hendry Jiminez of Auburn for the New York-Penn League lead in triples with six three-baggers..After slumping a little bit, Spikes catcher Sammy Gonzalez is back in the league's Top 10 hitters with a mark of .315 good for the seventh spot..Recent transactions for the Spikes include Gamache, Zack Dodson promoted to Class A West Virginia, outfielder Carlos Mesa placed on the DL retroactive to August 3 and LHP Robbie Kilcrease promoted to State College from the GCL Pirates..Despite sporting a 5-3 mark, the Ironbirds are barely over the Mendoza Line with a team batting mark of .209..Ironbird third sacker Connor Narron has just one hit in his last 24 at-bats (.042). He is the son of former major league catcher Jerry Narron who currently serves as the bench coach of the Milwaukee Brewers.