(Courtesy Aberdeen IronBirds )
Sunday's match up between the IronBirds and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers saw the Aberdeen bats fail to support a fine outing from their starting pitcher for the second straight contest, as the IronBirds were beaten 1-0.
Sunday's starter Trent Howard turned in a stellar performance, surrendering just two hits over five innings of work, striking out six and walking one in the no decision.
After allowing his lone walk of the contest in the first inning, Howard cruised through the Scrappers' lineup, retiring the next 12 hitters in succession before two Mahoning Valley hitters managed to poke out singles in the fifth frame.
"I just go out there and try to throw strikes, try to get ahead of the hitters, and I've been fortunate the last few outings; things have really worked out for me," said Howard, who was the Baltimore Orioles' seventh pick of the 2011 amateur draft.
"Today I really felt like I had them off-balance a lot on 0-2 and 1-2 [counts], any time I had two strikes even. [Catcher] Wynston [Sawyer] and I were on the same page, to where I'd do a fake [head] shake when he'd call fastball, and they would be thinking off-speed, and I'd freeze them up," Howard said. "We gave them a steady dose of everything today."
The loss came on the heels of the IronBirds' 4-1, Saturday-night loss to the Scrappers, in which starter Jake Cowan held Mahoning Valley to two hits through the first six innings, before the Aberdeen bullpen surrendered four runs in the eighth.
Howard's outing Sunday marked his third straight start in which he has held the opposition scoreless.
"The defense was there behind me the whole time, and it's a lot easier to pitch when you're not worried about a lot of errors," Howard said. "You know they are capable of doing some good things behind you, so you don't worry about it, you don't think twice, you just go out and throw the ball."
Following Howard's departure, Brandon Erbe, Baltimore's third-round pick of the 2005 draft, who is on a rehab assignment in Aberdeen following shoulder surgery that ended his 2010 season, came on in the sixth and tossed one inning of perfect relief, retiring the side on just eight pitches.
Reliever Zach Petersime had a three-up-three-down inning in the seventh, but it was in the following frame that the visitors scored the winning run.
The Scrappers started with a leadoff single, moved the runner over to second with a sacrifice bunt, and the third hitter of the inning launched Petersime's offering deep into the alley in left.
Center fielder Glynn Davis ran the hit down, but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove, resulting in a double. The Scrappers' leadoff man, who had held at third on the two-bagger, eventually scored the game's lone run on a sacrifice fly.
Over three innings of work, Petersime allowed just two hits, but was saddled with the loss.
Mychal Givens was the lone IronBirds batter with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with two singles. Joe Velleggia had a base hit and earned Aberdeen's only walk, while Sammie Starr, Dudley Leonora and Connor Narron each had one hit in the defeat.
With the loss, Aberdeen fell to 13-30 on the year, still in the cellar of the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division.