The best-hitting Cyclones team in the history managed just three runs in a two-game sweep of the New York–Penn League championship series by the Tri-City Valley Cats, ending Brooklyn’s dream of its first title since 2001.
In Game 1 in upstate Troy, the punchless Cyclones lost 5–2, managing just three hits. After two nights of rainouts, Tri-City completed the sweep with a 5–1 win on Tuesday night, with the Clones getting only five hits.
“My guys were overwhelmed — and we didn’t look prepared,” Cyclones skipper Wally Backman told the Cyclones beat reporters in his post-game news conference, steps from the sad lockerroom. “Like we were improvising out there.
“So, yeah, I’m pissed,” he added. “But they’ve got to learn this [losing] feeling themselves.”
And to think, the opening game of the series started out so well, with the Cyclones jumping on the board first, thanks to a deep, two-run blast in the first inning by the team’s leading home run hitter, Cory Vaughn.
But the Cyclones’ bats managed only one more hit the rest of the game.
Tri-City’s broke the game open with a four-run fourth. Starter A.J. Pinera walked the leadoff hitter Ben Orloff, than gave up an RBI double to Austin Wates and an RBI single to Adam Bailey. A wild pitch, a walk and an error by second baseman J.B. Brown on a sure double-play ball led to another run.
The final run of the inning scored on a groundout.
Valley Cat starter David Martinez was nearly flawless after that first-inning homer to Vaughn, giving up just one more hit and striking out three in his five innings.
The Cats added an insurance run in the sixth on a solo shot by Marcus Nidiffer, and closer Jorge DeLeon pitched a no-hit eighth and ninth to get the save.
Cyclones skipper Wally Backman said he was disappointed that his team “showed up without much punch,” not getting a hit after the fourth.
“I would have liked to see more ‘rah-rah-rah’ out the guys, more standing on the top step than sitting on the bench,” he said. “The bottom line is that we were outpitched. And we made a big error on a double-play ball. That’s the difference in this game.”
But when the series pivoted to MCU Park in Coney Island, where the Cyclones had an .800 winning percentage during the regular and post-season, there was even more pitching from Tri-City and even less punch from the Cyclones.
The Valley Cats got on the board first, with a single run in the third.
Tri-City starter Carlos Quevedo was cruising into the third — at one point striking out four in a row, but then yielded back to back doubles to Darrell Ceciliani and J.B. Brown. The team had a chance to take the lead when Cory Vaughn’s ground ball was thrown away by the third baseman, but Brown was cut down at the plate.
Ceciliani — who led the league in hitting and is a shoo-in for team MVP — saved a run in the fourth by making an amazing diving catch with a man on second, then doubled him up for out number three.
But it was not meant to be. Tri-City got two more runs in the fifth. After a double and an error, Ben Orloff laid down a suicide squeeze bunt so good that he was also safe on the play. He stole third and then scored on a single to make it 3–1.
A two-run double in the seventh by Adam Bailey made it 5-1.
— with Stephen Brown