In a season in which following the Cyclones has felt like a ride on its namesake, last night’s 7-2 loss to the Lake Monsters at historic Centennial Field in Burlington, Vermont began with a twist even the most hardened baseball veteran could not have anticipated.
As I took my customary photo of the line-ups I wondered, why is Nicco Blank starting? I wondered why Dawrin Frias wasn’t making the spot start – was he injured too? Then I found out he was traded across the infield to the Vermont Lake Monsters to complete the trade between the parent clubs (Mets & A’s) which netted the surging Mets southpaw Eric O’Flaherty earlier this week.
Nicco gamely went to the hill and gave it his all, throwing 4 shutout innings while giving up 4 hits and striking out 3 with his low 90’s fastballs. Although he did not pitch long enough to qualify for the win, he left with a 2-0 lead thanks to 3B David Thompson’s 2nd inning blast off of starter Kyle Friedrichs way over the left-centerfield fence and DH Brandon Brosher’s clutch two out 4th inning single, which sent 1B Zach Mathieu chugging home after reaching on a booming double off of reliever Cody Kurz. Zach had replaced Jeff Diehl, who left with (hopefully) a minor leg injury (he remained in the dugout).
Craig Missigman took over in the 5th, getting an around the horn DP after a leadoff walk. In the 6th he was one out away from allowing skipper Tom Gamboa from turning the lead over to the bullpen troika of Conlon/Taylor/Palsha, but Thompson couldn’t come up with CF Steven Pallares’ grounder, and the flood gates were opened. DH Skye Bolt tied the game with a 2 RBI double. Bolt was chased home by light hitting 2B Jesus Lopez, and the Cyclones were behind for good.
Missigman left in the 7th with a runner on second, turning the ball over to a clearly fatigued Ruben Reyes, who pitched the night before. Ruben fell asleep and allowed SS Richie Martin to stroll to 3rd while he was holding the ball. Ruben then walked C Nick Collins and then uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch. Ruben then hit 1B Chris Iriart with a pitch and gave up a run scoring single to RF Brett Siddall to end his night. Ty Williams came in and induced Pallares to hit what appeared to be a 6-4-3 DP. One problem – 2B Vinny Siena heaved the ball well past first. While Zach chased it down in the expansive foul territory, Iriart scored and Pallares went all the way to third.
In the 8th Vermont capped the scoring when Martin scampered home from first on a two out hit & run single to CF Enmanuel Zabala by Seth Brown, sending home 2101 fans with their Ben & Jerry’s tie-dyed baseballs (as well as copious quantities of FREE Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – I missed mine while keeping score).
The Cyclones will now try to end their 4 game skid tonight at 6:05. There will be a loooooong line early as the first 500 kids 18 & under will get an incredibly high-quality Burton backpack (wish my son was 1 year younger). They fell to .500, 1.5 games back of SI for the division lead after the Baby Bombers beat the Renegades 6-4 at Dutchess Stadium. Incredibly, the Cyclones remain only 1/2 game out of the Wild Card lead.