Wednesday night at MCU Park in Coney Island was “Bark in the Park” day in which fans could bring their canines to the stadium.
But on that night, Brooklyn Cyclones’ righty John Gant was the “top dog.”
Gant tossed a complete-game shutout in which he faced the minimum amount of batters in the Cyclones’ 1-0 win over the Tri-City Valleycats to earn the series win. He allowed only one hit while walking one and striking out five.
With the win and an Aberdeen Ironbirds’ 7-3 loss to the Lowell Spinners, the Cyclones are now in first place by a half-game in the McNamara Division of the New York-Penn League. It’s the first time the team has been in first place all summer.
Gant disposed of the Valleycats with 99 pitches in just one-hour and 54 minutes. That’s a huge difference from Tuesday night’s four-hour and 44 minute, 16-inning marathon – which the Cyclones lost 5-3.
“After a game like that last night (Tuesday), everybody’s drained; everybody’s tired,” manager Rich Donnelly said. “But you keep playing to the end, and you see what happens.”
The win is the sixth of the season for Gant, who was named an All-Star earlier this summer. He certainly looked like an All-Star Tuesday.
“Fastballs and change-ups were working,” Gant said of his dominant performance. “With the change, I was very comfortable.”
He retired the first 17 batters to face him before allowing a two-out single to right center in the top of the sixth inning to Valleycats’ shortstop Chan Moon. Moon was caught stealing by Cyclones’ catcher Eddie Rohan to keep the minimum for Gant intact.
This game marked the third time this season Gant has taken a no-hit or perfect-game bid into the sixth inning. He threw 5.2 innings of no-hit ball earlier this season against the Lowell Spinners and then 5.1 no-hit innings against the State College Spikes.
“There’s bad luck in the sixth inning,” Gant joked.
The Cyclones struck for their only run in bottom of the sixth. Third baseman Anthony Chavez led off the inning with an infield single. Left fielder Eris Peguero dropped down a sacrifice bunt, but none of the Valleycats went for the ball and Peguero was safe at first.
Shortstop Gavin Cecchini then grounded a fielder’s choice to second base and was safe at first after Tri-City first baseman Conrad Gregor bobbled the ball, allowing Chavez to score the game’s only run.
Gant walked Valleycats’ right fielder Ronnie Mitchell to lead off the ninth inning. Not only was facing the minimum in jeopardy, but the tying run was also now on base.
After Cyclones’ pitching coach Marc Valdes visited the mound, Gant induced a fly out to center and then a game-ending, minimum-saving double play started by Chavez, who had a stellar gam defensively.
“Chavez played a great game,” Donnelly said. “He had a barehanded play. He had a play when he went almost to second base to get the ball, and then he had the last play.”
“The defense made some great plays, and Eddie (Rohan) caught a really good game,” Gant said. “I don’t think I shook him off at all.”
Gant’s effort was the first complete game of the summer for the Cyclones and the first for Brooklyn since Sept. 7, 2012 when Hansel Robles – now with the St. Lucie Mets – threw a complete-game shutout in the playoffs against the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The Cyclones now have seven games left this season, and two more wins would ensure a winning season. Brooklyn has finished over .500 every season since its inception in 2001.
Thursday night at the ballpark will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ebbets Field – the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, though it is now an apartment complex in Crown Heights. Fans will receive special jerseys as they watch All-Star Miller Diaz take the hill for the Cyclones against the Staten Island Yankees at 7 p.m.
Click here to view the complete box score from this game.