By Curtis pulliam
Scrappers batter Bradley Zimmer knew right away the ball was going over the fence.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Zimmer said. “I got myself back into an even count and got a good pitch to hit and drove it out of the ballpark.”
The 22 year-old’s first professional home run tied the game at 3 and provided the spark for the Scrappers as they defeated the Aberdeen IronBirds, 5-3, on Saturday night at Eastwood Field.
The Scrappers trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Greg Allen reached on a bunt single. Two batters later, Zimmer crushed the ball over the right-field bullpen.
“It’s always good to put the momentum back on our side,” the center fielder said. “I think that kind of pushed us through the rest of the game.”
The go-ahead run was scored in the bottom of the eighth when the Scrappers rallied with two outs. D’Vone McClure singled and Josh McAdams reached on an error. Yonathan Mendoza singled through the hole to left to drive in McClure for a 4-3 lead.
“The first thing that came to mind was calm down, try to get a good pitch and get the RBI,” Mendoza said through a translator.
Allen was hit with the bases loaded to score an insurance run.
The scoring started in the third inning for the Scrappers, when McClure walked and McAdams singled to right field. The right fielder overthrew the third baseman and McClure came home easily for a 1-0 lead.
The IronBirds didn’t go away as they scored three times in the top of the fifth. Right fielder Riley Palmer had a two-run double and first baseman Hector Veloz contributed an RBI single to give Aberdeen a 3-1 lead.
It was the last inning for Scrappers starter Juan Santana, who gave up five hits, two earned runs and struck out two in his five innings. Santana said he believes his thought process changed in that final inning.
“In the very first inning, I had the mindset of making the pitch I had to make,” Santana said through a translator. “In the fifth inning, I lost my self-control and that’s the reason I blew up that inning.”
Pitching coach Greg Hibbard recognizes Santana’s problem for allowing a potential big inning.
“Juan’s biggest fault is that he struggles repeating at times,” Hibbard said. “He’ll show you good sliders and good command then at some point during the game he tends to kind of falter.”
Despite the one bad inning by Santana, the Scrappers pitchers shut down the IronBirds. Relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Luis DeJesus combined for 31/3 scoreless innings and eight strikeouts.
“That was [Feyereisen’s] first outing in about three weeks. He was really sharp and the fastball looked really good,” Hibbard said. “DeJesus was also really good tonight. He executed his pitches to both sides of the plate.”
The Scrappers have won three of their last four games. Manager Ted Kubiak likes what he has seen of late.
“So far, it’s been good lately,” he said. “We’ll see when we go on the road because we have to play some pretty good teams.”
Zimmmer, selected in the first round of this year’s draft, said he believes the team is coming together.
“It was only a matter of time before it clicked,” Zimmer said. “I think in the last week or so the hitting and pitching has come together.”
The Scrappers and IronBirds play today at 5:05 p.m.