Cyclones get a taste of playoffs after all
Conforto, Urena, Rosario Added to Savannah Postseason Roster
Two days removed from suffering the heartbreak of falling just shy of earning the New York-Penn League’s Wild Card, a trio of Brooklyn Cyclones got their taste of playoff baseball Wednesday night – in Asheville, N.C., of all places.
Mets’ first-round pick Michael Conforto and All-Star Cyclones infielders Amed Rosario and Jhoah Urena were all promoted to the parent club’s full-season Class A affiliate in Savannah this week.
That made the talented threesome eligible to compete with the defending South Atlantic League champion Sand Gnats in their best-of-3 first-round playoff series with the Asheville Tourists.
On Monday, Conforto, Rosario and Urena helped Brooklyn to a do-or-die 3-1 victory in Staten Island, only to learn that Connecticut had clinched the NY-Penn’s final playoff berth with a wild 9-8 victory over visiting Lowell.
Though the Cyclones and Tigers finished with identical records, Connecticut nabbed the playoff spot via its 4-2 advantage in the regular-season series with Brooklyn.
That left the Baby Bums out of the postseason for a second straight summer on Coney Island, but for Conforto, Rosario and Urena, each of whom played a vital role in the Cyclones’ red-hot 27-15 finish following a season-high eight-game skid in July, the playoffs were still within reach.
All three were in Savannah’s starting lineup Wednesday night, with Conforto batting third and going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI in his professional playoff debut.
Urena hit second and finished 1-for-3 with a walk while Rosario went hitless in four at-bats as the Sand Gnats dropped the series opener, 8-3.
Savannah will host the final two games of the series back in Savannah, Ga., beginning Friday night.
It’s certainly no surprise that Conforto hit the ground running with his new Savannah teammates as he also had an instant and almost miraculous impact upon his arrival in Brooklyn this summer.
The Oregon Staten alum, who was selected 10th overall by the Mets this past June, showed up in the Cyclones’ lineup on July 19, the day after they had committed five errors in a brutal extra-inning loss that punctuated the futility of their eight-game slide.
Conforto hit a blistering .331 with three homers, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs to go with 30 runs scored during his 42-game stint in Brooklyn, earning high praise throughout the summer from first-year Brooklyn manager Tom Gamboa, who is in his fourth decade in Major League-affiliate baseball.
“We had scored six [runs] or more one or two times before he got here and it’s happened a half a dozen times since he’s been here,” Gamboa noted during Brooklyn’s late-season dash.
The sage skipper also believed that Conforto changed the culture of the Brooklyn batting order.
“[Conforto’s] influence on the other guys, the way he will take pitches and not get himself out on pitcher’s pitches, is a good influence on the other guys too,” he said. “A lot of our other young guys, on a nightly basis, will chase balls in the dirt or over their head and put themselves in a bad count right from the start. We’re telling guys to lay off balls in the dirt to get that count to 1-0 instead of 0-1, where the pitcher can expand the strike zone and create a bad at bat.
“Michael takes that to a whole other level,” Gamboa added. “In one of his first at bats, he took two strikes, but they were both great pitcher’s pitches and later in the count the pitcher made a mistake and he lined a double into the corner. Our other guys have already made an out and never get to that pitch.”
Urena, Brooklyn’s most consistent player throughout the 76-game grind of a regular season, batted an even .300 with team highs of five homers and 47 RBIs.
He missed one contest this summer, and that was only because he was ejected prior to the game for engaging in a stare-down with the Staten Island dugout during the season’s final week.
Rosario, who will not turn 19 until November, batted a solid .289 with a homer and 23 RBIs while scoring 39 times for Brooklyn.
All three Cyclones will have an opportunity to extend their season Friday night in Savannah. Too bad we can’t say that for the rest of our Baby Bums, who battled their way right down to the final out of the NY-Penn season before learning they wouldn’t be playing playoff baseball this September.
This, That and the Other Thing: One season ends, and another is set to begin on Coney Island.
The Brooklyn Bolts, members of the newly formed Fall Experimental Football League, will kick off their inaugural season at MCU Park next month.
The Bolts, along with the Miami Blacktips, Omaha Mammoths and a yet to be named Boston franchise, will be the initial members of the FXFL, which will play a six-game regular season schedule. Games will be televised and played on weeknights to avoid scheduling conflicts with the NFL and collegiate football.
The FXFL is intended to be a developmental platform for players, coaches and referees, who are on the cusp of fulfilling their NFL dream. Rosters will consist of recent college grads and NFL players cut during the final weeks of training camp.
The season get underway on Oct. 8 with three Bolts home games scheduled to be played at MCU Park on Wednesday, Oct. 15, Friday, Oct. 24 and Friday, Nov. 7.
The team will announce a coaching staff and roster in the coming weeks.
Season tickets for the Inaugural Season of Brooklyn Bolts football, which start at just $25 per game, are available now by calling 718-37-BKLYN.
Individual and group tickets will go on sale at a later time.
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