The Brooklyn Cyclones are inching closer to the .500 mark as the team notched its third straight win with a 4-3 victory over the Lowell Spinners – the Single-A short season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox – Monday night at MCU Park in Coney Island.
It took a late eighth-inning comeback, but the Cyclones were able to scratch out the win, moving them to 9-12 on the season.
Brooklyn was able to get the victory on one of the team’s “Meaningful Mondays” in which $3 from every ticket is donated to an area affected by Hurricane Sandy. Monday night’s recipient was Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, and the team wore their special commemorative blue jerseys with the names of affected areas on the back.
Righty John Gant started the game for the Cyclones and actually had a no-hitter going through the first 5.2 innings. But it was anything but pretty.
He allowed an unearned run to score in each of the first two innings as a result of leadoff walks in each inning. Two errors by catcher Colton Plaia did not help either, as the Spinners took an early 2-0 lead without recording a hit.
Luckily, the Cyclones did not wait around to respond, as they scored three runs in the bottom of the second. Four hits, including RBI doubles from Plaia and right fielder James Roche, put Brooklyn back on top 3-2. Roche had been one of his last 13 with 11 strikeouts before his clutch hit.
Gant settled in from there, striking out seven, but he still walked five Spinners on the evening. In each of his four starts though, he’s thrown at least five innings and has struck out at least six batters.
“A big part of pitching is being consistent,” Gant said. “It’s fun striking people out, so I guess I’ll try to just keep doing that. I definitely walked way too many tonight. That’s five too many.”
“They didn’t hit too many balls hard, but he (Gant) was all over the place, walking people,” Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly said. “He walked the leadoff hitter three times. He’s a funny dude. He walked four but struck out seven. John’s pitched well this year, but this was a weird outing.”
The Spinners tied up the game in top of the eighth inning off Cyclones’ reliever Cristian Chivilli. Chivilli surrendered another leadoff walk, and Lowell left fielder Aaron King delivered the game-tying RBI single.
“You start doing that (walking the leadoff man) in any league and any game, and you’re going to be in trouble,” Donnelly said. “Late in the game, you’re going to bunt or steal or something to try to get the run in. These runs are like gold.”
Again though, the Cyclones continue to show fight late in games. Center fielder Patrick Biondi worked out a walk after a nine-pitch at-bat to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Shortstop Juan Gamboa, who has filled in admirably for Gavin Cecchini – who was recently placed on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle – then dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt.
With two outs, Cyclones’ left fielder Jared King blooped a line drive into left center field. Spinners’ outfielders King and Manuel Margot converged on the ball but collided, allowing the ball to drop and Biondi to score the go-ahead run.
“You want to try to get a good pitch to hit…something over the plate that I could handle,” Jared King said. “Fortunately, I just hit in in the right spot.”
Things got interesting in the top of the ninth, as Cyclones’ side-arming lefty reliever Shawn Teufel, Tim’s son, walked the leadoff hitter – the fifth time in the game a Cyclones’ pitcher did that. After a sacrifice bunt, Spinners’ third baseman Nick Moore chopped an infield single over Teufel’s head setting up first and third with one out.
Teufel struck out Spinners’ catcher David Sopilka, and then Donnelly jogged out of the dugout for a conference on the mound with his entire infield.
“I said, ‘Teuf, you’re going to get this guy out and I don’t want this ball thrown if he goes,’” Donnelly said. “I had enough confidence in Teuf and said ‘If he goes, you get the hitter.’”
Teufel did just that, as he struck out Spinners’ designated hitter Tzu-Wei Lin to end the game. There would be no “Linsanity” Monday night in Coney Island.
Though the team won, seven walks is a cause for concern.
The Cyclones are back in action for one of two 11 a.m. summer games Tuesday for camp day. Lefty Carlos Valdez takes the ball for Brooklyn, still looking for his first win of the season.
Click here to view the complete box score from this game.