Brooklyn Boro

Edgardo Alfonzo still believes in last-place Cyclones

Manager Hoping for ‘Turnaround’ After Taking Series from Yanks

July 20, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo hopes to point the way to a furious comeback in the McNamara Division race for his last-place Brooklyn squad. AP Photo by Kathy Willens
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“Ya Gotta Believe” was the New York Mets’ mantra back in 1973 as they went from cellar dwellers to pennant winners in a span of two months.

Edgardo Alfonzo is trying to invoke that same fighting spirit in his league-worst Brooklyn Cyclones, hoping that taking two of three games this week from the first-place Staten Island Yankees will catapult his club to new heights as the 76-game grind of a New York-Penn League season continues.

“That was a good win,” the Baby Bums’ skipper said after Brooklyn bested Staten Island, 3-1, on Wednesday night before a crowd of 6,034 at Coney Island’s MCU Park. 

“A good lift for everyone in the clubhouse. I hope [this is a turnaround],” he added. “The guys have the good taste of what it is to win. Hopefully that motivates them to keep doing that.”

The Cyclones still own the worst record on the 14-team circuit at 9-20, sit 11 full games behind the Yankees (20-9) for the top spot in the McNamara Division, and rank 13th in both team ERA and batting average.

But none of that seemed even distantly relevant the past two nights as the Baby Bums outplayed their arch rivals from across the Verrazano behind error-free defense, stellar pitching and timely offense.

“It’s a great relief for us,” Alfonzo admitted as his team prepared to complete its first three-game winning streak of the summer Thursday night in Connecticut.

“Especially against the Yankees, they are always tough.”

The league-leading Baby Bombers strutted their stuff during Monday’s 5-2 series-opening win here before dropping a 3-2 decision to the Cyclones on Tuesday.

That made Wednesday’s rubber match with S.I., all the more important for a Brooklyn squad which hadn’t posted a series win since taking two of three at Vermont during the season’s first week.

Cyclones starter Martin Anderson yielded a run-scoring groundout to the Yankees’ Dom Thompson-Williams in the opening frame before settling in for a rock-solid performance. 

The 24-year-old Georgia native, whom the parent-club Mets signed as a rookie free agent earlier this month, gave up the lone run on five hits while striking out five and walking two over five strong innings.

Brooklyn didn’t overcome the slim deficit until rallying for a pair of runs following Anderson’s departure.

Scott Manea and Edgardo Fermin delivered back-to-back, two-out RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth as the Cyclones took the lead for good, and Leon Byrd Jr. was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth to cap the scoring. 

The advantage held up because of a second straight lights-out performance from the Brooklyn bullpen. 

Marcel Renteria (1-1) picked up the win in relief after tossing two perfect frames with four strikeouts, and Cannon Chadwick notched his first save of the summer by working around a hit and two walks over the final two innings.

“[Renteria’s] performance was tremendous and Chadwick,” Alfonzo noted. “Every time we do that, it’s going to be great. This is what it’s all about. Throwing a first pitch strike and see what happens.” 

Those ’73 Mets were 12 games below .500 in mid-August before orchestrating one of the great comebacks in Major League history, one that didn’t end until they dropped Game 7 of the World Series to Reggie Jackson and the dynastic Oakland Athletics.

Even if these Cyclones fall short of climbing back into serious contention for their first NY-Penn playoff appearance since 2011, it wouldn’t hurt them, or their first-year manager, to keep on believing until they are mathematically eliminated from the race. 

They still have 47 games left on this grueling summer slate to make history, and perhaps more importantly, to avoid the infamy of being remembered as the worst Cyclones team ever.

* * *

In other local pro sports news, newly acquired Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll had his first face-to-face with the local media this week, and re-emphasized his enthusiasm at joining former coach Kenny Atkinson here at the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park.

“You don’t know how excited I was when I was traded,” Carroll said on Tuesday, more than a week following his move from the Toronto Raptors to Downtown Brooklyn.

“It was like a rush of joy just ran through my body.”

Carroll, who spent the previous two years with the Raptors, enjoyed his best seasons playing in Atlanta, where Atkinson worked diligently as an assistant coach to help the 6-foot-8 wing man improve on his game.

Now the head coach here in Brooklyn, Atkinson can once again count on Carroll to be one of the hardest-working veterans on a team that is desperate to climb out of the NBA cellar after going an embarrassing 41-123 over the past two campaigns.

“Even though Brooklyn didn’t have the best record last year, I feel like there’s a good foundation being laid and it’s only going to improve,” Carroll said. 

“We just have to put it all together and keep trying to win and keep trying to compete. At the end of the day that’s all it’s about — competing every night — and not taking one game for granted.”

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