August 22nd -- Brooklyn, NY -- The Brooklyn Cyclones (35-26) and Tri-City ValleyCats (28-35) split an unusual doubleheader at MCU Park on Monday night. After picking up where both teams left off after last night's game was suspended, the ValleyCats defeated the Cyclones, 7-4. In the second game, which was scheduled for seven innings, the Cyclones fell behind 2-0, but tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs in the eighth inning, Amauris Valdez sent everyone home happy with a two-out, walk-off solo home run.
RECAP - GAME 1
The Cyclones and ValleyCats resumed play in the top of the fourth inning on Monday night after rain suspended last night’s game. The Cyclones trailed 6-2 before the suspension and although they cut the deficit to three runs, they ultimately fell to the ValleyCats by a score of 7-4. Chris Hilliard made his first start since coming off the disabled list, but was limited to a pitch count and pitched just 2.0 innings – albeit scoreless ones. Righthander Randy Fontanez (0-2) was tagged with the loss in relief after allowing six runs, three of them earned, in 1.2 innings.
After Chris Hilliard blanked Tri-City over two frames, Brooklyn drew first blood in the bottom of the second. Brian Harrison led off with a single and was promptly moved up to third on a single by Cole Frenzel. Recently activated from the DL, Brandon Brown then hit a booming single off of the left field wall to plate Harrison and advance Frenzel to second. Tri-City looked to slow Brooklyn’s momentum with a double play, but the following batter, Chase Greene, hit a hard ground ball that deflected off the glove of the diving third baseman. Frenzel, who moved over to third on the double play, scored on Greene’s infield single to put the Cyclones up 2-0.
The ValleyCats, however, responded with a four-run third inning off of righthander Randy Fontanez. After Bubby Williams led off with a solo home run to left field, the ValleyCats put two runners in scoring position with a walk and a double. Although Fontanez induced a quick ground out and then a strike out, the third strike was dropped by catcher Xorge Carrillo allowing the runner on third to score and the runner on second to take third. With ValleyCats on the corners, Fontanez induced a line out for the second out of the inning, but could not escape further damage. A double by Matt Duffy plated two runs and put Tri-City up 4-2.
Tri-City added two more runs to their lead in the top of the fourth before the game was suspended due to rain. The first run came after Bubby Williams followed up a lead off single with a RBI-triple. Williams then came in to score the second run of the inning on a bang-bang play at the plate. On Jacke Healey’s slow roller to third baseman Richard Lucas, Williams broke for home plate. Lucas’ ensuing throw beat Williams, but he slid out of reach of catcher Xorge Carrillo’s tag to give Tri-City a 6-2 lead.
The rain, which had already been falling during the inning, began to come down hard and the game was suspended with one out and Healey on first base.
When the game resumed on Monday night, righthander Steve Winnick took the hill for the Cyclones, inheriting a runner on first base. He was greeted with a single to right field by Neiko Johnson, but right fielder Javier Rodriguez picked up his teammate, gunning down Healey looking to go from first to third on the base hit. In the next at bat, Neiko Johnson broke for second, but Carrillo made a second spectacular throw of the inning, gunning down the would-be base stealer to end the top of the fourth.
The ValleyCats, however, tacked on another run in the top of the fifth. With runners on first and second with two outs, Miles Hamblin singled up the middle to extend Tri-City’s lead to five runs.
But Brooklyn got that run back in the bottom frame. After Danny Muno led off with a booming, stand-up triple over the right fielder’s head, he was plated on a sacrifice fly by Lucas to narrow the deficit back to four runs.
After both offenses were held scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings, a solo home run by Brandon Brown to left field cut Tri-City’s lead to three runs in the eighth inning. The homer was his sixth of the season.
However, Brooklyn was kept off the board in the ninth inning and they lost 7-4.
GAME 2 - RECAP
In the nightcap, they settled for a split with a victory by a score of 3-2 on a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning by Amauris Valdez.
RHP Todd Weldon (4-0) picked up the win in relief for Brooklyn after tossing a scoreless top of the eighth.
The Cyclones’ bats were dormant in the early innings but came alive in the later innings to avoid what would have been a disheartening sweep, also limiting the ValleyCats to just three hits in the walk-off win. Brooklyn had an opportunity gain an early lead in the bottom of the second but their efforts were denied.
After a two-out walk by Ismael Tijerina to set up runners on first and second, Tillman Pugh roped a single to centerfield but an accurate throw by the centerfielder allowed the catcher to tag out Charley Thurber who opted not to slide.
The ValleyCats capitalized on the strong defensive effort by adding a run just a frame later. After a one-out single, Jacke Healey hit a double to left field that plated the game’s first run and a 1-0 lead.
The Cyclones had another opportunity to even the score but were victimized by an unfortunate inning-ending double play in the bottom of the fourth. After Cole Frenzel began things off with a single to the second basemen, Brian Harrison walked to set up a prime opportunity for a run. With one out, a softly hit groundball by Amauris Valdez allowed the third baseman to step on third and throw to first for a heart-breaking double play that squashed the threat.
Once again, Tri-City took advantage of the misfortune by bringing home another run in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly after a leadoff triple.
However, the Brooklyn bats finally awoke just a half-frame later. With the bases loaded by way of a two bunt singles and a walk, Javier Rodriguez brought home two runs by lacing a double to left. With two outs and runners on the corners, Brian Harrison had the chance to bring home the go-ahead run but grounded into Fielder’s Choice.
In the bottom of the seventh, a leadoff walk by Pugh and sacrifice bunt by T.J. Rivera allowed the fleet-footed runner to advance into scoring position. In the ensuing at-bat and after a pitching change, Rodriguez was aided by a dropped foul popup by the catcher but was unable to move the runner with a fly out to center. Pinch hitter Brandon Brown labored through an eight pitch at-bat but was finally able to draw the walk. The ValleyCats opted to bring in southpaw Mitchell Lambson who was able to strikeout Cole Frenzel and end any last licks dramatics for the time being.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs in what was unusually considered extra innings, Amauris Valdez sent a 2-2 offering from Lambson just over the wall in left for the game-winner. With the split, Brooklyn remains 3.5 games behind Staten Island and 1.5 games behind Williamsport for the Wild Card lead as both teams were winners by a close margin.
The Cyclones and ValleyCats will head up to Little Falls, NY to begin a second three-game series tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23 at 7 p.m. RHP Eduardo Aldama will take the hill for the Cyclones. The team will return to MCU Park on Friday, August 26 to take on the Hudson Valley Renegades. There will be post-game fireworks and the first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive a FREE Metrocard presented by Verizon Wireless. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 718-507-TIXX, visiting the MCU Park box office, or logging onto BrooklynCyclones.com.
-- Written by Ryan Gilbert
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