TROY — Following a three-game road trip against the Lowell Spinners, the Tri-City ValleyCats returned home to 4,002 fans Friday night at “The Joe” to take on the Aberdeen IronBirds as they looked to shake off a four game losing skid.
Aberdeen drew first blood in the second inning. A two out double off the bat of Andrew Fregia that hit off the bottom of the left field wall sent home Tristan Graham from third. However, damage was minimized when the relay from Matthew Barefoot in left to Grae Kessinger at shortstop to Korey Lee at home cut down Toby Welk, who was attempting to score from first on the play.
Two innings later, Aberdeen extended their lead to 2-0 on a soft fly ball to center off the bat of Welk which sent home Maverick Hendley from second. This ended ‘Cats starter Juan Pablo Lopez’s night after 3.2 innings allowing three runs, two earned, while ringing up three and walking two. Lopez would be charged a run following his exit when reliever Lupe Chavez allowed Welk to score from second on a base hit by Fregia.
This would be all the scoring for either side as Aberdeen rode their fourth inning insurance runs out to a 3-0 win.
Aberdeen starter Adam Stauffer dazzled on the mound for seven innings, allowing just two hits, one in the first and none until the seventh, while walking just one and striking out six. First baseman Zach Biermann spoke after the game about Stauffer’s excellent command all night.
“He did a really good job of throwing everything he had for a strike whenever he wanted to,” said Biermann. “It keeps you really off balanced as a hitter which is not a recipe for success. Give him all the credit in the world but we need to be better.”
Biermann also mentioned the team needs to improve upon capitalizing with runners in scoring position as the ‘Cats went 0-3 in those situations on Friday night.
The two hits surrendered by Stauffer were also the only two hits of the game for the ‘Cats. They came off of a leadoff triple by Korey Lee and a seventh inning single by Biermann. Manager Ozney Guillen spoke after the game about the team’s struggles at the dish.
“We were a little in a hurry,” said Guillen. “Not slowing the game down but we do something good then speed it back up. We talked about getting better in the beginning of the game, didn’t work today so we try to find something new tomorrow.”
Guillen also stressed that in the midst of this five game losing streak the games aren’t about winning and losing, they’re about getting better each day.
The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. on Saturday night for game two of the three-game series. The ‘Cats are expected to start Hunter Brown on the hill, who is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 1.2 innings this season. Aberdeen will turn to Leonardo Rodriguez (0-1, 2.70 ERA) as he looks to clinch the series win.
Of Note: During the five game losing streak, the ‘Cats have been outscored 26-13. They also now fell to 2-7 overall when allowing their opponent to score first.