BROOKLYN, NY -- June 20, 2017 -- The smell of hot dogs, the sight of King Henry’s crown and a packed MCU Park could only mean one thing: Brooklyn Cyclones’ baseball was back. After a rainout on Monday in Staten Island, the Cyclones were allowed to start the season in the friendly confines of MCU Park.
On Tuesday, June 20, in front of a sellout crowd of 7,271, the Cyclones kicked off campaign against the Staten Island Yankees for the 14th time. In the 2017 edition, the Yankees (1-0) defeated the Cyclones (0-1), 7-4. In the Cyclones’ 17-year history, the team has only lost five times on Opening Day. Three of those loses have come against the Yankees. The Cyclones’ pitchers had control issues from the get-go, starting with Jake Simon. Of the Yankees’ seven runs, six reached base due to walks.
Simon, a 2015-draftee, threw 25 pitches in the first inning before he stranded a runner on third. Two innings later, Simon’s mistakes put the Yankees on the board. After Simon hit designated hitter Carlos Vidal, walked Daniel Barrios and Wilkerman Garcia, Simon surrendered a booming double to Dom Thompson-Williams, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Two pitches later, Oswaldo Cabrera sent a single up the middle to add one more run.
Both hits came off pitches that were left up in the zone, allowing the Yankees’ hitters to do damage. Simon’s elevated pitch count — 81 pitches, and just 43 strikes, through four innings — resulted from an inability to put batters away.
“Simon did a pretty good job,” Edgardo Alfonzo said after his first game as the Cyclones head coach. “He did what was expected, he gave us a pretty good chance.”
Simon’s opposition, Yankees’ pitcher Jorge Guzman breezed through the first three innings. He allowed just one hit, struck out three and faced the minimum. In the fourth, however, the Cyclones adjusted, attacked the first pitch and put some runs on the board.
After two walks, right fielder Jose M. Medina popped out in foul territory for the first out. Then, Reed Gamache sent a blooper to center field, loading the bases for Carlos Sanchez. Guzman, who had relied on his blazing fastball to get ahead in the count, served one up to Sanchez who did not miss it. His towering blast hit the top of left field wall and scored a pair. Sanchez dug for two and finished his pop-up slide with an enthusiastic clap. For the first time in the 2017, the Cyclones offense was clicking. Designated hitter Walter Rasquin’s chopper to first brought in Reed Gamache and the game was knotted up at three. Rasquin was the fourth Cyclones batter to swing at the first pitch.
“The guy was throwing pretty good,” Alfonzo said. “I’m glad we have that game over.”
Reliever Joe Napolitano came in for Simon to start the fifth and he also had command issues. In 33 pitches, Napolitano had four passed balls (allowing two runs), walked three, struck out two, and balked once. The killing blow was a two RBI triple into right-center field to first baseman Blaser Dalton. When the dust had settled, the Cyclones were starting at a 7-3 deficit.
The Cyclones would put pressure on the Yankees in the bottom of the sixth and the seventh. With the bases loaded, Ian Strom got hit by a pitch and Reed Gamache scored, cutting the Yankee lead to three. The threat would end quickly however, as Jose Maria would ground into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. An inning later, the Cyclones had runners on second and third after a double steal but could not capitalize.
“Everyone our side was anxious,” Alfonzo said. “…excited to get to home plate. I’m glad this game we got this game over and hopefully, tomorrow everyone goes back to their normal thing.”
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