No one said moving into first place would be easy for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
But with the Abderdeen Ironbirds losing Tuesday night, the Cyclones could have moved a half game into first place had they won.
It took 16 innings – the longest game of the season for Brooklyn – but the Cyclones fell 5-3 Tuesday to the Tri-City Valleycats at MCU Park. The team remains a half-game out of first place in the McNamara Division.
“That’s the way it goes,” manager Rich Donnelly said. “We had plenty of chances to get guys over. We didn’t bunt guys over; we didn’t hit guys over.”
The loss ends Brooklyn’s four-game winning streak. The team has eight games remaining on the year to try to overtake the Ironbirds for a playoff berth.
Brooklyn opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI double by shortstop Gavin Cecchini. He later scored on a wild pitch to give the Cyclones a 2-0 lead.
Right-hander Dawrin Frias started for Brooklyn and cruised through the first three innings. However, he was tagged for three runs in the top of fourth inning on a leadoff home run by Valleycats’ third baseman Tyler White, an RBI double by right fielder Ronnie Mitchell and a sacrifice fly by shortstop Chan Moon.
Frias went six innings and allowed just those three runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.
Tri-City clung on to its lead until the bottom of the eighth when Cyclones’ All-Star second baseman L.J. Mazzilli stepped to the plate, having already struck out three times looking.
Mazzilli skied a deep fly ball down the left field line that just stayed fair for a game-tying home run – his fourth of the season and third long ball in his last four games. The Cyclones then loaded the bases but could not push across the go-ahead run.
Brooklyn relievers Paul Paez, Johnny Magliozzi, Tyler Vandenheiden and Christian Chivilli threw nine scoreless innings in relief of Frias. But again the Cyclones had their chances but could not score.
Chivilli remained on for the top of the 16th inning and put the first two Valleycats on via a walk and hit-by-pitch. After a sacrifice bunt, pinch hitter Adam Nelubowich lifted a fly to left field just deep enough to plate the go-ahead run. Left fielder Jon Kemmer then lined an RBI single up the middle for insurance.
Fittingly based on how the night went for Brooklyn, Tri-City’s Gonzalo Sanudo struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the marathon game. Right fielder James Roche walked away with a golden sombrero – four strikeouts – while Mazzilli would soon like to forget his platinum sombrero – five strikeouts – in this one.
This was the Cyclones’ 10th extra-inning game of the season, and the team is now 4-6 in those games. Brooklyn is right back in action Wednesday night as it tries to win the rubber game against Tri-City. All-Star righty John Gant looks for his sixth win of the season as he takes the mound for the Cyclones.
Click here to view the complete box score from this game.