Despite missing playoffs, Cyclones celebrate best season since 2014
Cap bounce-back campaign with walk-off victory against Yankees
The news likely began filtering down the Brooklyn Cyclones’ dugout at approximately 5 p.m. or so Sunday evening at MCU Park.
The Auburn Doubledays, who had resumed play following a 49-minute rain delay, held on for an 8-5 victory at Batavia, securing the New York-Penn League’s lone wild-card spot.
That meant our borough’s Baby Bums would be left out of the playoffs for a sixth consecutive summer on Coney Island.
Likely disheartened, but unbowed, the 2018 Cyclones made sure to end another bittersweet season on a high note, pulling out a wild 5-4, 10-inning victory over archrival Staten Island before a Fan Appreciation Day crowd of 4,494 on Surf Avenue.
Though Brooklyn finished the season with a solid 40-35 record, a huge upgrade over their franchise-worst 24-52 mark a summer ago, it fell a half-game shy of Auburn (41-35) in the wild-card standings.
This was the closest the Cyclones came to earning a postseason berth since missing out on the wild card via a head-to-head tiebreaker back in 2014, which was also the franchise’s last winning season.
It also marked a hugely successful second year at the helm for Edgardo Alfonzo, who helped to develop a potential future ace [Jaison Vilera], a pair of stud relievers (Yeudy Colon and Billy Foxford) in the back end of the bullpen and several notable position prospects (Wagner LaGrange, Ross Adolph and Carlos Cortes).
But in the end, the Baby Bums just didn’t have enough down the stretch to set up the first playoff game at MCU Park since 2012.
Having played one less game than the Doubledays, the Cyclones finished with the same amount of losses, but one less win.
Due to the time constraints on the NY-Penn season, there was no room afforded for Brooklyn to make up the lone contest that likely decided their fate in the playoff push.
None of this sadness permeated the Brooklyn dugout, which rushed the field in glee and launched into a wild celebration after L.A. Woodard drew a bases-loaded walk to send Brian Sharp home with the winning run.
The mob scene came moments after a scary scene in which catcher Hayden Senger took a pitch to the head with the bases jammed to plate the tying run.
Colon (4-4) picked up the win in relief despite giving up an unearned run in the top of the 10th and Adolph, the NY-Penn All-Star Game MVP, capped off a strong summer by going 3-for-4 with his league-leading 12th triple and an RBI.
Brooklyn, which finished two games in front of Staten Island in the McNamara Division race, ended the summer five games back of first-place Hudson Valley, the defending NY-Penn champions, who will take on Auburn in a best-of-3 first-round playoff series beginning today.
The Cyclones snagged sole possession of first place on Aug. 18 in Hudson Valley, but dropped seven of their next 10 games to fall out of serious contention for their first division crown in eight years.
Rehabbing Mets reliever Anthony Swarzak also contributed to the spirited season-ending effort, striking out two in a scoreless fifth inning after Brooklyn starter Joshua Walker yielded a run on three hits over four solid frames.
Though they fell short of their ultimate goal, the Cyclones continued to be an ongoing success story on Coney Island.
They paced the NY-Penn in attendance for a record 18th straight year by drawing 202,495 fans to MCU Park this summer, beating their nearest competitors by more than 50,000 paying customers.
The Baby Bums also drew 16,000 more fans than a season ago, when they spent most of the campaign in the McNamara Division cellar.
To call this anything but a successful season would be short-sighted, as player development trumps winning percentage at the Class A short-season level.
But that won’t stop Brooklynites from shouting “Wait ‘Til Next Year” for the modern version of ‘Dem Bums.
This, That and the Other Thing: Adolph’s 12 triples matched former Mets outfielder Darrell Ceciliani for the Cyclones’ single-season record, established in 2010, the last year Brooklyn went to the NY-Penn Championship Series under the guidance of Wally Backman. … Oxford led the league with his eight wins, five more than Vilera, who slowed down a bit as the summer wore on after dominating batters in the first half of the year. Both hurlers should be candidates for the NY-Penn Pitcher of the Year Award. Oxford (1.34 ERA), Vilera (1.83) and Colon (1.95) all ranked highly in the earned-run-average race, though Vilera led the 14-team circuit among qualifying starters. … The Cyclones have not yet announced whether Alfonzo would be back for a third year as Brooklyn manager. … Woodard, who spent most of the season with Rookie-level Kingsport of the Appalachian League, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and the season-ending RBI in his brief three-game stint with the Cyclones. He should be back for more next summer after being selected in the 16th round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Middle Tennessee State.