Baseball: Monsters Top Aberdeen 6-5

Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters

ABERDEEN, MD — Marty Bechina went 5-for-5, Jordan Diaz hit his ninth home run and Jose Mora earned his 10th save in the Vermont Lake Monsters 6-5 victory over the Aberdeen Ironbirds in New York-Penn League action Sunday evening at Ripken Stadium.

Bechina followed a Logan Davidson leadoff single in the first inning with the first of his four singles as Vermont took a 1-0 lead on a Dustin Harris RBI grounder. The teams exchanged unearned runs in the second before Vermont took a 3-1 lead in the third as Bechina led off the inning with a single and later scored on a Kyle McCann RBI groundout.

Vermont starter Leudeny Pineda struggled with his control in the fourth with three walks and a hit batter to cut the Lake Monsters lead to 3-2. Reliever Jorge Martinez 5-1) came on to strikeout Maverick Handley with the bases loaded to end the fourth, then tossed two additional scoreless innings to earn his fifth win of the season.

Bechina led off the sixth with his third single of the game and scored on a Diaz two-run homer to leftfield. The 19-year-old (as of August 13th) is the seventh player in Vermont history to hit at least nine home runs in a season, while increasing his NYPL leading RBI total to 44 overall this year.

Lake Monsters built lead to 6-2 in the seventh as Bechina doubled with one out and scored on a Harris RBI groundball single to right. The Ironbirds rallied with three runs (two earned) on four hits off Alex Pantuso in the bottom of the seventh, but Pantuso got Kyle Stowers to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners on first-and-second to keep Vermont ahead 6-5.

Bechina, who grounded out in the ninth inning with a chance for a 5-for-5 game at State College on July 31st, made it 5-for-5 with a single to right in the ninth inning on Sunday. It is Vermont’s first 5-hit game on the road since Michael Daniel on July 3, 2006 at Oneonta (last five-hit game was Payton Squier August 3, 2018 at Centennial Field).

Holding on to the narrow one-run lead, Vermont’s Jose Mora struckout Handley, Mason Janvrin and 2019 first-overall draft pick Adley Rutschman to close out the victory. Mora now has 25 strikeouts in just 12.2 scoreless innings over his last 10 outings, while becoming just the seventh Vermont pitcher all-time to reach double-figure saves in a season.

Harris was 3-for-5 with two RBI and McCann 2-for-5 with two doubles as the top five batters in Vermont order were a combined 12-for-24 (bottom four hitters 0-for-14). Jake Lyons, who tossed five no-hit innings in the Ironbirds no-hitter at Centennial Field last Monday, allowed three runs on five hits over first four innings to take loss for Aberdeen (34-28).

Vermont (29-34) has won four of its last five games and wraps up three-game series at Aberdeen 7:05 pm Monday. After two off days for NYPL All-Star Game Wednesday, the Lake Monsters return to Centennial Field for a three-game series against the Lowell Spinners starting Thursday.