Aberdeen IronBirds clinch their first playoff berth

They finally made it. In their 12th year, the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds are headed to the New York-Penn League playoffs for the first time.

With tonight's 7-3 win over Lowell, Aberdeen improved to 38-32 and clinched first place in the McNamara Division. Now the IronBirds advance to the league semifinals and a best-of-three series that it appears will begin Friday night at Ripken Stadium. The championship series is also best-of-three in the New York-Penn League.

Aberdeen began the day leading Brooklyn by 1 1/2 games with three to play. When the Cyclones lost this afternoon, the stage was set for a clincher and celebration at Ripken Stadium tonight.

Aberdeen really took control of the division race with wins at Brooklyn on Saturday and Sunday, as they went from a half-game behind in second place to leading by 1 1/2 games.

It has been an impressive season as the IronBirds' current roster features 18 players taken by the Orioles in the 2013 draft, including top pick Hunter Harvey. IronBirds manager Matt Merullo, a former big league catcher, is in his first year in the O's organization.

The IronBirds will put tickets on sale for home playoff games Wednesday at 9 a.m. Call 410-297-9292 for more info or go to IronBirdsbaseball.com.

Aberdeen had just one winning season in its first 11 years, going 41-34 under manager Andy Etchebarren in 2006, but even that season ended in rough fashion with Aberdeen getting swept in its final series to finish just out of the playoffs.

The IronBirds were 28-48 last year and 24-51 the year before. They had a winning percentage of just .433 from 2002 to 2012.

You get the point. Not exactly a big winning history.

But that changed tonight. Tonight the IronBirds are McNamara Division champs.

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