Extra-inning games seemed to be the theme of the organization Monday night. The big club won a crazy 13-inning affair over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field, but the Brooklyn Cyclones dropped a 12-inning contest to the Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park in Coney Island.
The Cyclones’ 8-7 loss was a wild affair, especially since it was only supposed to be a seven-inning game as part of a doubleheader against the Yankees. The first game was the makeup of the opening night rainout, and the second was to be the regularly scheduled Monday night game.
But after the Yankees burned through seven pitchers and the Cyclones used five – including middle infielder Ismael Tijerina – both teams decided to make the wise decision and postpone the second game.
Already this season, the Cyclones have endured multiple rain delays and extra-inning games, which have taken their toll on this team trying to establish its rhythm.
“Baseball is the only game that’s not played at eight o’clock every night,” said Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly. “There’s no clock; you have to adjust. All teams have to do it. It’s something we’re going through, and it’s going to make these guys better.”
The 4-hour and 20-minute game featured five errors and almost as many runs scored in extra innings as the first seven. What’s even stranger is that Brooklyn’s pitching staff had not yielded a home run all season heading into the game yet surrendered three long balls in this one, with the wind blowing in no less.
The Cyclones came into the game having been shutout for 23 consecutive innings. It was the first time the team had been shutout in back-to-back games since Aug. 27-29, 2002 when the team failed to score a run in all three games of a series against Staten Island.
But Brooklyn snapped its scoreless streak early, scoring two runs in both the bottom of the second and bottom of the third innings to take a 4-0 lead. Right fielder James Roche, third baseman Juan Gamboa, first baseman Matt Oberste and designated hitter Alex Sanchez each drove in runs.
Cyclones’ starter Miller Diaz cruised through the first four innings but ran into trouble with walks in the top of the fifth. He gave up a leadoff homer in the inning to Yankees’ catcher Isaias Tejeda and later walked back-to-back hitters with two outs to load the bases.
Yankees’ designated hitter Yeicok Calderon smashed a Diaz offering into the left center field gap for a bases-clearing double that tied the game at four.
The game remained tied until the top of the tenth. Mets’ third base coach and 1986 World Champion Tim Teufel’s son, Shawn Teufel, was on a rehab assignment from Double-A Binghamton and looked strong through two innings of work. But he served up a home run to Calderon to leadoff the frame and put the Yankees up a run.
The Cyclones fought back though, as center fielder Patrick Biondi continued his knack for getting clutch hits. He singled up the middle with two outs to drive in Gamboa, who had singled earlier in the inning, to tie the game at five.
With Juan Urbina on the hill for Brooklyn in the top of the 11th, Yankee great Paul O’Neill’s nephew, Michael O’Neill, laced an RBI single to right to put Staten Island back on top. Calderon then drove in an insurance run after reaching on error by Tijerina.
At that point, Donnelly did not want to use any of his other relievers, since everyone thought the teams would still be playing a second game. So he brought in Tijerina from shortstop to pitch.
Tijerina successfully worked out of the jam, setting up another Cyclones’ come-from-behind rally in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Two errors in the inning by Yankees’ shortstop Jose Rosario set the table for Roche, who already has a walkoff hit this season. Roche crushed a ball to left center that just missed being a walkoff three-run homer but instead hit the wall to drive in two runs to again tie the game at seven. But Roche was stranded at second.
Donnelly left Tijerina in for the top of the 12th. The middle infielder got the first out, but Yankees’ right fielder Daniel Lopez hit Staten Island’s third homer of the night deep over the left field fence for the deciding run.
Tijerina probably didn’t think before the game that he would be the losing pitcher, but sometimes that’s just how baseball works.
“We pitched T.J. (Tijerina) because that’s all we had,” Donnelly said. “It was a joke to play anymore tonight. Common sense overrides everything that there is in sports and in baseball. You don’t want to put a kid out there who shouldn’t be out there. You don’t want position players pitching, or you don’t want guys pitching more than they should. That’s out job to keep these kids healthy.”
The Cyclones fall to 5-9 and sit in the cellar of the New York Penn League’s McNamara Division. The Yankees are now 7-6.
These teams will meet again Tuesday night in Staten Island at Richmond County Savings Bank Park. Game time is 7 p.m., and righty John Gant takes the ball for Brooklyn.
The Cyclones have shown plenty of fight this season, and Donnelly said that if the team keeps up its never-day-die mentality, the wins will come.
“As long as they fight and grind, I’ve got no problem with them,” Donnelly said. “I have confidence in these guys, and they’re going to be fine.”
Click here to view the complete box score from this game.