Red-hot Cyclones putting 2017 behind them
Tied for best record in McNamara Division after impressive start
The crowd of 4,805 celebrated wildly while the Brooklyn Cyclones gathered at home plate and along the first-base line to mob Kendall Coleman.
It was a scene seldom seen during last year’s disastrous summer on Coney Island, but one that these new-look Baby Bums are quickly growing accustomed to.
Coleman’s two-out, walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night at MCU Park lifted Brooklyn to a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Lowell Spinners, further distancing the Cyclones from the disastrous 2017 campaign that saw them finish with the New York-Penn League’s worst record.
At 9-3 through the first dozen games of this year’s slate, the Cyclones are tied for first place with Hudson Valley in the McNamara Division standings and have already put together a pair of four-game winning streaks,
They also boast three victories of the come-from-behind variety this summer, the latest of which occurred in their final at-bat.
Brooklyn, which finished a franchise-worst 24-52 last season, had won each of its first four series entering its current three-game set in Vermont, which kicked off Thursday night.
Though its still a very small sample size, the positive feelings reverberating around Surf Avenue and Brooklyn’s locker room are palpable, providing a sense of hope for a franchise that hasn’t reached the NY-Penn playoffs in any of the previous five seasons.
“It’s a different team from last year,” second-year Baby Bums skipper Edgardo Alfonzo said. “The attitude and the atmosphere should be different when you have a team that can compete.”
Alfonzo noted during the team’s preseason workouts at MCU Park earlier this month that last year’s squad was bereft of pitching talent and couldn’t find a way to overcome a dismal 2-8 start to the campaign.
The Cyclones have started this season on the right foot and hope to continue riding that momentum through the 76-game grind of the short season schedule.
Brooklyn, which finished dead last in runs scored and team ERA last year, currently ranks fourth and second, respectively, in those categories.
The Cyclones have also averted anything resembling a skid as they are one of the only clubs on the 14-team circuit that has yet to suffer back-to-back losses this season.
They appeared to be on the verge of an almost certain defeat Wednesday as reliever Ezequiel Zabaleta issued a bases-loaded walk to Jonathan Ortega in the top of the sixth to push Lowell in front, 3-2.
The Brooklyn bats, which provided two runs in the bottom of the second inning, including an RBI single by Coleman, went silent for the next three frames as Spinners hurlers retired the next nine Cyclones in order.
But come the ninth, Brooklyn proved it was no easy place to pick up a win this year.
Jose Brizuela greeted Lowell closer Victor Garcia with a leadoff walk and came roaring home on Jose Miguel Medina’s line-drive double to left field, erasing any doubt that the ‘Clones would be shut down in the ninth.
With the game knotted, Dionis Paulino and Carlos Sanchez shook Garcia with back-to-back singles, but Medina was thrown out at the plate on the second of those hits before Ross Adolph struck out to put Brooklyn on the brink of extra innings.
Garcia intentionally walked pinch-hitter Chase Chambers to set the stage for Coleman, who sent everyone home happy by ripping Garcia’s 2-1 offering into center field for a clean single, setting off a wild celebration at a ballpark that has seen far too few over the past several summers.
Whether they can keep up this pace over the length of a long hot summer on Coney Island is still anyone’s guess.
But at least for now, the Cyclones are providing hope to their fans and the promise of a brighter future, something that has been greatly lacking thus far from the parent club in Flushing.
“We have a great team, we’ve gotta compete, and hopefully, we’ll stay together,” Alfonzo said.
This, That and the Other Thing: Medina’s game-tying double in the ninth extended his hitting streak to 10 games. The right fielder, who spent 63 games with Brooklyn last summer, is batting .357 this year with an impressive .949 on-base-plus-slugging average. Though he is likely to make the jump up to Class A full season at some point, Medina has provided a steady presence in a Brooklyn lineup that is batting a collective .260 thus far this summer after a league-worst .232 team batting average in 2017. … Coleman, a former Yankees prospect and the only player in NY-Penn history to suit up for both Brooklyn and Staten Island, has made the most of his playing time with the Cyclones, knocking in six runs in five games. … RHP Christian James started for Brooklyn Tuesday night and yielded two runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, increasing his staff-best ERA to 1.13 through three outings. James, the Mets’ 14th-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, had started the season with 12 scoreless frames before surrendering a two-run homer to Lowell’s Xavier LeGrant in the top of the first.
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