Blackham pitches a ‘masterpiece’

On the ball: Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa made all the right moves during his teams 3–2 extra-inning, opening night victory on the Rock.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Cyclones 2

Williamsport 0

July 4 at MCU Park

Matt Blackham pitched seven shutout innings in the Cyclones 2–0 win over the Crosscutters on Saturday, in a game where each team was held to three hits.

He said the key to facing a Crosscutters team that entered the game 13–1 was not thinking about how good Williamsport was.

“Before the game, my fiancée said, ‘isn’t the team 13–1?’ I said, ‘you probably shouldn’t say that to me right before I’m ready to go out there,’ ” Blackham said.

The Cyclones starter improved to 2–0 in three starts, giving up two hits and one walk over seven innings, while striking out nine.

“That was the best game of Matt Blackham’s young pitching career,” said Cyclones skipper Tom Gamboa. “He pitched a masterpiece against a very good team.”

Brooklyn took a 1–0 lead in the fourth when Jose Taveras’s wild pitch scored Vinny Siena from third.

The Crosscutters almost tied the game in the fifth. With Josh Tobias on third, Blackham’s pitch bounced away from Brandon Brosher but not far enough. A heads-up Blackham covered home and tagged Tobias to end the inning.

Williamsport’s best scoring chance came in the eighth against reliever P.J. Conlon.

Tobias led off with a double and moved to third on a passed ball. Conlon induced two groundouts, holding Tobias at third, then struck out Zach Coppola to preserve the lead.

Conlon is used every fourth or fifth day by Gamboa and never in the middle of an inning.

Brosher’s home run in the bottom of the frame gave the Cyclones an insurance run. Brosher reminds Gamboa of another slugging catcher, with the skipper saying Brosher has “Mike Piazza-type strength.”

Carlos Valdez picked up the save with a 1-2-3 ninth. The Blackham-Conlon-Valdez trio worked just as Gamboa intended.

“Once in a while, it goes exactly as you hope, and our Plan A today was Blackham for seven, which is exactly what he did, and Conlon for an inning.”

With the staff trying to get an extra day of rest for Alex Palsha, Valdez picked up his first save of the year.

The 10–5 Cyclones host Williamsport at 5 pm on Sunday. A large crowd is expected for the team’s second “Seinfeld” night.

UPS AND DOWNS

The Cyclones played another quick game, finishing in two hours and 12 minutes. The fans had to wait more than an hour for the 9:30 fireworks.

The same issue came up last year when Brooklyn’s July Fourth game only took two hours and 19 minutes to complete.

Follow the Cyclones all season long at brooklynpaper.com/sections/sports/cyclones

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