Brooklyn Jefes a big hit on Coney Island
Cyclones live up to temporary nickname in rout of Connecticut
The “Jefes” showed the Connecticut Tigers whose boss in Coney Island Wednesday night.
Donning their temporary nickname and new uniforms, the Brooklyn Cyclones rebounded from a rough three-game series in Hudson Valley by laying waste to the visiting Connecticut Tigers, 13-6, in front of 4,003 playoff-hopeful fans at MCU Park.
The Cyclones (27-25), who had suffered three consecutive walk-off defeats to the first-place Renegades this week, needed an immediate boost upon their return to the friendly confines of their sparkling facility by the sea.
They got it in the form of 13 runs over the first four innings against Connecticut, including Brooklyn native Manny Rodriguez’s three-run homer during a seven-run, fourth-inning outburst.
Catcher Hayden Senger went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and recently named New York-Penn League All-Star Wagner LaGrange added two hits and drove in three runs as Brooklyn pounded out 17 hits en route to matching its highest run total of the summer.
“Jefes” starter Brian Campusano (3-5) snapped a seven-start winless streak with his first victory in six decisions, yielding two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 solid innings, striking out seven and walking two to pick up his first victory since blanking the Tigers over five frames in Connecticut on June 22.
The 22-year-old Dominican right-hander held the Tigers at bay over the first five innings as the Cyclones battered Connecticut pitchers throughout the evening.
Rodriguez, the Mets’ 10th-round pick out of the University of Cincinnati in this past June’s MLB Draft, capped the big fourth inning when he sent an offering from reliever Felix Viloria over the wall in left-center field, a towering shot that boosted Brooklyn’s lead to 13-0.
Campusano finally ran into trouble in the sixth, giving up a two-out, two-run single to Gresuan Silverio before second-year manager Edgardo Alfonzo gave him the hook after he had thrown 84 pitches, 56 of which were strikes.
The much-needed win moved Brooklyn back within 4 1/2 games of first-place Hudson Valley, an 8-7 loser in Tri-City Wednesday, in the McNamara Division race. It also kept the Cyclones two lengths behind Auburn in the ongoing battle for the NY-Penn’s lone wild-card spot.
Jose Miguel Medina went 3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored and a stolen base for Brooklyn, which will keep its “Jefes” identity going for the following two games of this series.
Right-hander Christian James (2-1, 2.36 ERA) was slated to start Thursday’s middle game against Connecticut’s Carlos Guzman (2-2, 4.02) as the Cyclones continue the pursuit of their first playoff berth since 2012.
Alfonzo, who was hoping his team would get “back on track” following three heartbreakers in Hudson Valley, has got to be happy with this ongoing rebound campaign after the Cyclones went a franchise-worst 24-52 during his first year on the job in 2017.
This, That and the Other Thing: Senger ripped his first triple of the season Wednesday, giving the Cyclones 20 three-baggers this summer, their most since pounding out 37 triples back in 2010, the last year they qualified for the NY-Penn Championship Series under then-manager Wally Backman … LaGrange, who has been the Cyclones’ most consistent offensive performer this season, got high praise from Alfonzo after earning All-Star honors on Tuesday. The 22-year-old outfielder is batting .296 with 20 RBIs, 23 runs, eight doubles, a triple and seven steals while getting on base at a .376 clip this summer. “Wagner is a guy who, when he learns how to dominate the strike zone, is going to be a very dangerous hitter because he swings so hard and is always a line-drive guy,” Alfonzo said. “We talk about how to get a better approach and control his body, but he’s been working on it. It’s working so far.” LaGrange has drawn 16 walks thus far this year while playing in a team-high 44 games.
In other local pro sports news, veteran Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered what the team is calling a left abductor strain while competing in a charity game in China Saturday, organized by former Brooklyn point guard Jeremy Lin.
Coming off the best of his first three NBA seasons, Hollis-Jefferson has emerged as a mainstay on general manager Sean Marks’ ever-shifting roster.
The 23-year-old University of Arizona alum averaged career bests of 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds last year while helping the Nets to an eight-game improvement over their disastrous 20-62 campaign in 2016-17.
The injury, commonly known as a strain of the hip muscle, can take up to eight weeks to rehabilitate, which will put a hold to Hollis-Jefferson’s summer workout activities.
But the team’s energizer should be back on the court, albeit not at full strength, by the time the team begins its preseason slate in early October.
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