IronBirds shut out Dou­ble­days to win home opener

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS - By CAL DYMOWSKI

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-

ABERDEEN

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.

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