The Cyclones rode a Jeff Diehl blast predicted by his dad before the game plus a bit of base path chicanery and sterling bullpen work to end their four game skid with a 4-3 victory on the very inaptly named #BEATBKLYN Night on Friday night at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
The Brooklyn faithful, with King Henry, jammed the Verrazano Bridge and the S.I. Ferry, while both Sandy & Pee Wee flew over the harbor to root for our Boys of Summer to break the tie for the McNamara Division lead. They were rewarded when Cyclone 3B David Thompson led off with a single. He stole 2nd when DH Jeff Diehl struck out on a failed hit and run on a 3-2 pitch. 1B Zach Mathieu then singled, with Thompson wisely being held by Yunir Garcia at 3rd. Then skipper Tom Gamboa decided to roll the dice by having the 6 ft. 7 in. 287 lb. Mathieu steal. While it would be impossible to confuse Zach with Ricky Henderson, he gamely ambled toward 2nd. The throw was true, but while S.I. SS Thairo Estrada forgot the situation and patiently waited for Zach to arrive, Thompson, channeling his inner Jackie Robinson, trotted home with the game’s first run.
The real fireworks (not to be confused with the post-game extravaganza) came in the Cyclones 3rd when Thompson reached on a two out walk by SI starter Luis Cedeno. Then Diehl unloaded on a 2-0 pitch, leaving CF Junior Valera nothing more to do but admire a mammoth shot that soared over the batter’s eye behind the 392 sign towards the harbor. It was Jeff’s second homer of the season, his first since his Father’s Day shot to left at S.I. on June 21.
The Cyclones tacked on an all-important tack-on run in the 5th when newly promoted LF Hengelbert Rojas led off with a double. He was singled home by C Manuel Hilario, who was stranded at 3rd after a stolen base and an errant throw into center by SI catcher Eduardo de Oleo.
Meanwhile Cyclones starter Kevin Canelon cruised into the 5th, with the Baby Bombers repeatedly swinging on the first pitch. But with one out de Oleo doubled. He advanced to third on a charitably scored wild pitch that Hilario allowed to trickle between his wickets. Canelon seemed to lose something at this point, giving up an RBI single by DH Ryan Krill. A double by 2B Brandon Wagner put runners on 2nd & 3rd. Canelon looked like he might get through the 5th when he induced an RBI groundout to 2nd, but LF Zack Zehner’s RBI double put the tying run in scoring position. Then, on a 1-2 pitch Canelon committed the unpardonable sin of hitting SS Thairo Estrada in the foot, bringing up the ever dangerous RF Jhalen Jackson. Gamboa had seen enough, and brought in Craig Missigman to put the fire out, which he did by getting Jackson on a bouncer to the mound.
The game then went to the bullpens. Because the SI relievers Jose Mesa, Jr. & Josh Roeder shut the door on Brooklyn, the Cyclones firemen had to be equally stingy, and that they did. Missigman got through a 6th inning leadoff error by 2B Vinny Siena and two one out singles by striking out the side. Righty Corey Taylor & southpaw PJ Conlon then held the fort in the 7th & 8th by retiring the side in order and striking out 2 batters each. League-leading closer Alex Palsha then worked around a one out single and stolen base by Wagner, getting Zehner to end the night with a grounder to shortstop Alfredo Reyes, allowing this author to literally flip the team’s name plates atop the division standings.
NOTES: SI Borough President James Oddo did NOT meet in competition with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as advertised, perhaps out of respect for the memorials commemorating the one year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner after a chokehold while in police custody. There was a huge police presence both inside and outside the stadium, including Brooklyn’s own Party Marty, now Officer Haber.
The SI players had to join in to cheat Sandy & Pee Wee out of a win in the tug of war against SI’s pre-hamburger mascots Scooter & Red