Clones go batty against ValleyCats in huge win

Cyclones topple hated Yanks in opening day win

Tri-City ValleyCats 4
Cyclones 12

Aug. 17 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium

The pride of Coney Island prevented a Tri-City ValleyCats sweep with an offensive outburst in which every Cyclone batter crossed the plate at least once.

The Cyclones took an early lead that only got larger, racking up two runs in the third inning on an RBI double by shortstop Philip Evans and a sac fly by designated hitter Kevin Plawecki. The ValleyCats put up a run of their own in the bottom of the inning with an RBI line drive from shortstop Jean Batista. But the Clones came back and scored two more in the fourth, on a single by center fielder Brandon Nimmo that sent first baseman Alexander Sanchez and second baseman Richie Rodriguez home. It was enough for ValleyCats skipper to pull starter Brian Holmes for reliever John Neely — though it didn’t do much good. Neely gave up an RBI single to left fielder Stefan Sabol, while Plawecki came home on a ground out by catcher Nelfi Zapata.

Tri-City tried to rally in the eighth, as Coney reliever John Mincone gave up a double to catcher Tyler Heineman, then let him take third on a wild pitch. Mincone then walked second baseman Austin Elkins and surrendered a single to third baseman Ryan Dineen that allowed Heineman to score. After designated hitter Cristian Moronta dropped one into center field to drive in Elkins, Cyclones skipper yanked Mincone for Beck Wheeler. Wheeler threw a wild pitch that let the runners move up, and Dineen scored on a ground out by right fielder Emilio King. But center fielder Neiko Johnson flied out to end the inning, leaving the ValleyCats still two runs behind.

And that’s when the floodgates opened, letting the Cyclones seal the win with an incredible ninth inning. Set-up man Juan Minaya loaded the bases by walking Evans, Sabol, and Sanchez with just one away, leading Clapp to replace him with Travis Ballew. The closer threw a wild pitch that let Evans score, then walked Zapata to load the bases again. Ballew fanned Rodriguez, but he plunked right fielder Eudy Pina to drive in Sabol and bring Nimmo up to the plate. The red-hot prospect out of Wyoming hit a grand salami over the right field bleachers, giving his team an eight-run lead. Ballew walked third baseman Jeff Reynolds and beaned Evans before Plawecki finally grounded into a force out to end the carnage.

Brooklyn closer Tyler Vanderheiden sent the ValleyCats down in order in the bottom of the inning to pick up his eighth save of the season.

Nimmo has been on a hitting streak to five games since returning to the line-up on Aug. 11. The Mini-Mets have pulled back within two games of the Hudson Valley Renegades in the race for the top spot in the McNamara Division of the NY–Penn League. They remain four and a half games ahead of the Batavia Muckdogs 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] on Aug. 21 at 7 pm as they take on the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.