IronBirds shut out Doubledays to win home opener
Special to the Whig
—The Aberdeen IronBirds recorded a 7-0 win over the Auburn Doubledays in the first home game of the 2016 season.
Starting lefthanded pitcher Alex Wells got the job done for the IronBirds, going six innings and conceding no runs while holding the Doubledays to only six hits before a sold out crowd at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
Wells ran into a bit of trouble early on in the second inning, allowing the bases to become loaded before getting a key strikeout against Andres Martinez to record the second out. He then forced the next batter to hit into a fielder’s choice to neutralize Auburn’s threat.
Wells said that being at home played a little bit into the early jitters, but he sim-
ply talked to himself during the second inning in an effort to prevent any thoughts from creeping into his mind. “I think it was just a bit of nerves in front of the home crowd,” Wells said. “I just told myself, ‘If I get through these [batters], I’ll settle in,’ and I settled in really nice.”
The offense for the IronBirds (24) assisted Wells with solid run support. After suffering a 1-2-3 inning in the first, it rattled off seven runs over the next five frame to give its pitcher a comfortable advantage.
Outfielder Austin Hays, who went 1 for 3 with a single and a stolen base, said that getting their heads in the right place after a rough 1-4 road trip to start the season proved key for the Birds’ offense erupting.
“We wanted to come home, get our heads right, get our minds right, and just play the way we know how to,” Hays said. “We were aggressive to our pitches. We stayed disciplined tonight and it showed.”
Infielder Alejandro Juvier, who snagged two RBIs on the night, was certainly aggressive, swinging at a firstpitch high and outside fastball, crushing it to deep left field in the sixth inning on what proved to be the only multi-run RBI for the Birds on the night.
“I just went to home plate and swung at the first pitch I saw,” Juvier said. “It was a fastball outside, and I just let my hands go through the ball.”
Hays and Juvier talked about focus being key for the Ironbirds now that they earned a convincing win at home.
“We just need to stay focused now,” Juvier said. “We need to practice hard every day, and something will come out.”
“Got to keep doing what we are doing tonight,” added Hays. “Don’t try to change a thing.”
Ironbirds second-year manager Luis Pujols said that the message going into the game was ‘ Play your game at home.’ He stressed that the lack of home wins last season was a concern he wanted to address this season. He noted Wednesday’s victory was an important first step.
“When we talk about championship teams, they have to takeover at home,” Pujols said. “Our message was to play good, play a great game, pitch a great game and we won at home.”
Pujols added that he enjoyed the club’s effort Wednesday and was impressed by what he saw.
“Hays played his first game in right field tonight, and I like everything I see with that kid,” Pujols said. “Our job is to teach these guys the way to play the game like [Baltimore Orioles manager] Buck [Showalter] wants them to play.”
A big win over the Doubledays was certainly a bit sweeter, considering that Ryan Ripken, the son of Aberdeen IronBirds founder Cal Ripken Jr., played first base for Auburn on Wednesday.
Ryan Ripken went 1 for 3 with an infield single.
IronBirds designated hitter Jaylen Ferguson hit his first home run of the year in the bottom of the second, beginning a stellar allaround game for the Aberdeen club.
IronBirds honor fallen heroes
Prior to the Aberdeen Ironbirds’ home opener Wednesday, the organization honored two fallen Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies – Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon – who lost their lives in the line of duty in February.
Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler said that the ceremony meant a great deal to the sheriff’s department, the community and to the families affected.
“It means the world to not just me, but to the men and women of the Harford County Sheriff’s Department,” Gahler said. “It’s for the families at this point, to make sure we don’t forget Pat and we don’t forget Mark. It means the world to us.”
The badge numbers of the two fallen deputies, painted on the field at Ripken Stadium, were revealed during the ceremony, followed by the release of a dozen white doves. The numbers will remain painted on the field for the entire season.
Dailey’s fiancé and Logsdon’s wife threw out dual ceremonial first pitches.
“I’m very excited [to see them throw out the first pitch],” Gahler said. “It’s also with a little bit of heartbreak that continues ever since that day. There is good here today, but it brings up sorrowful memories.”
Family members received a powerful and overwhelming ovation when they came to the field to take pictures with the badge numbers.