Bad pitching and poor hitting lead to loss for Cyclones

Tri-City ValleyCats 5
Cyclones 2

Aug. 21 at MCU Park

Brooklyn’s bats fell silent after the third inning while Coney ace Rainy Lara squandered a two-run Cyclones lead as the team dropped the first of three games in the People’s Playground to the NY–Penn League-leading Tri-City ValleyCats.

The Mini-Mets got ahead in the third inning after second baseman Juan Carlos Gamboa smacked a liner to left for a double with designated hitter Nelfi Zapata on deck. Zapata then hammered one over the left field fence to give the Clones a two-run lead. But those would be Brooklyn’s only runs of the game, as the team managed just three more hits over the next six frames.

Lara pitched himself into a jam in the fifth by walking Tri-City third baseman Ryan Dineen and shortstop Joe Sclafani and plunking left fielder Dan Gulbransen. Right fielder Preston Tucker stepped up to the plate with one away and whacked a line drive to center field for a two-run single — leading Cyclones skipper Rich Donnelly to yank Lara for reliever Timothy Peterson. But when Peterson took the rubber, the new hurler gave up a line drive single to first baseman Jesse Wierzbicki that drove Sclafani in and a sac fly to catcher Tyler Heineman that let Tucker score. Peterson managed to end the inning, but Brooklyn was down by two — and the ValleyCats weren’t done yet.

Donnelly pulled the plug on Peterson at the start of the six for set-up man Craig Hansen. The right reliever immediately walked Dineen, then threw a wild pitch that let the runner advance to second. Hansen then hit Gulbransen with a pitch, bringing Sclafani up to bat. A throwing error by shortstop Phillip Evans allowed Sclafani to reach base and Dineen to score. Neither team put up another run the rest of the game, giving the ValleyCats their third victory over the Clones of the season.

The Cyclones fell to four games behind the division-leading Hudson Valley Renegades. They remain four games ahead in the wild card race.

The Cyclones are home again at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 17th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449–8497, www.brooklyncyclones.com] tonight at 7 pm as they take on the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.