Cyclones can’t close out Spinners in Game 2
Brooklyn will host Lowell for New York-Penn title at MCU Park
When you’ve spent the past several weeks playing do-or-die baseball, what’s another day?
The Brooklyn Cyclones squandered a chance to secure their first New York-Penn League championship in 18 years Monday evening at Coney Island’s MCU Park, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Lowell Spinners in Game 2 of the best-of-three series in front of 2,499 title-hungry fans.
The Baby Bums, who had to sweep a regular season-ending series against Staten Island just to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and staved off elimination in consecutive games against Hudson Valley in the NY-Penn semifinals, still have one more shot at the coveted crown.
That opportunity will come Tuesday night at the Class A short-season franchise’s stadium by the sea when the Spinners and Cyclones will battle it out in a decisive Game 3 of the NY-Penn Finals after splitting the initial two contests.
One night after pulling out a thrilling 2-1 Game 1 victory in Lowell on Sunday, the Cyclones gave up three runs in the top of the second inning Monday, one of which was unearned due to an infield error that could have stifled the rally.
After Brooklyn starter and West Islip, N.Y., native Frank Valentino (0-1) surrendered a leadoff single to Nick Decker, Antoni Flores’ potential double-play grounder eluded Cyclones second baseman Luke Ritter to set up what proved to be the game’s decisive rally.
Stephen Scott followed with an RBI single to right field and Gilberto Jimenez stroked a two-run base hit into center two batters later to give Lowell an early 3-0 cushion.
Brooklyn answered in the bottom of the frame as Mets’ first-round pick Brett Baty followed Joe Genord’s one-out single with a two-out double to center.
Genord, who finished 3-for-4, came rumbling home on Ranfy Adon’s infield single to put the Cyclones on the board, but Jose Ortega flew out to left to end the inning.
Valentino, who helped Brooklyn secure its first McNamara Division crown since 2010 by tossing 5 1/3 strong innings in the regular-season finale on Sept. 2, against Staten Island, took the loss after being reached for three runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 frames.
From there, the Brooklyn bullpen did what it has throughout this postseason, dominating Lowell batters the rest of the way as Corey Gaconi, Josh Hejka and Hunter Parsons combined to pitch 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
In the Cyclones’ five playoff games thus far, the relief corps has yielded only two runs over 25 1/3 innings while striking out 30 batters.
Only this time, the strong bullpen effort didn’t result in a Brooklyn comeback.
The Cyclones did threaten in the bottom of the sixth as Ritter and Genord ripped back-to-back one-out singles to set up a potential game-tying rally.
But Lowell reliever Chris Murphy (1-0) got Jake Mangum to ground out to shortstop and fanned Baty to strand runners at second and third.
Murphy was awarded the win, striking out six batters over four scoreless frames after Spinners starter Noah Song was reached for a run on four hits over the first three innings.
Osvaldo De La Rosa pitched a scoreless eighth and Kris Jackson worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to close out Game 2 for Lowell, which won despite going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Baty, who is batting .500 in postseason play, struck out for the game’s final out as Brooklyn once again will face elimination in Tuesday’s winner-take-all Game 3.
The Cyclones will send Nathan Jones to the hill for the epic tilt after the Mets’ fifth-round pick in this year’s draft tossed three scoreless innings against Hudson Valley last Thursday in Brooklyn’s season-saving Game 2 semifinal win here in our fair borough.
The Spinners, who had to come from behind to beat Batavia in their semifinal series, had yet to announced a Game 3 starter at press time.
This, That and the Other Thing: Brooklyn committed two errors in Game 2 of the NY-Penn Finals, resulting in the first unearned run it has yielded during these playoffs. … The Cyclones went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position Monday night. … Genord’s third hit of the night was a leadoff single in the ninth, but he was out stretching at second base on the play as Lowell left fielder Wil Dalton gunned him down at the bag, denying Brooklyn a baserunner in the final inning. … Baty, who began the year in the Gulf Coast League before playing 42 games at Rookie-level Kingsport, went 2-for-3 with a run scored in Game 1 at Lowell and added a big double Tuesday night. The prized prospect was assigned to Brooklyn on Aug. 29.
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