The Cyclones started the 2010 season with a bang over the weekend, taking two of three from their hated rivals, the Staten Island Yankees, winning the season opener on the road and then christening their newly named ballpark in perfect style.
The first win was a convincing 5-3 victory on the Rock, followed by a 9-6 win at home. Yes, the Yankees answered back on Sunday, but the back-to-back victories have energized a team seeking its first New York-Penn League championship since its only title in 2001.
And beating the Baby Bombers made it even sweeter.
“We know about the rivalry, so it’s always good to beat the Yankees,” said Darryl Ceciliani, who is all of 20 years old and has already been an impact player this season. “The fans certainly let us know how important it is to beat them. But the way we look at it, we want to win every game against every team.”
That intensity is coming down from the top this year, thanks to a new skipper in the form of former Met great Wally Backman, who certainly knows from Yankee-hating.
“I don’t want to put more pressure on the kids by bringing in all that rivalry stuff,” the Cyclone skipper told the cream of the Brooklyn press corps after Monday night’s win over the visiting Aberdeen Ironbirds at MCU Park.
“But it does feel good to beat the Yankees,” he added.
The Cyclones have looked plenty intense so far this season. Here’s how this week’s action went down:
Staten Island got the scoring started in the home first, knocking in three runs off of starter Yohan Almonte, but after that, it was all Cyclones.
Two runs scored in the top of the third. A Cody Holliday walk, a hit batsman and a single by J.B. Brown loaded the bases for William “Big Bill” Cherry, who hit the two-out, two-RBI single.
Three more runs scored in the seventh, thanks to big blows by Rylan Sandoval, who hit a double; an RBI single by Darrell Ceciliani; and a two-run single by high draft pick Cory Vaughn, son of major leaguer Greg Vaughn.
The Yankees did load the bases in the ninth, but reliever Brian Needham came in and put out the fire, inducing a groundout to earn his first save.
Despite the rough outing — he gave up six hits and three runs in five innings — Almonte got the win. The Cyclone bullpen, however, gave up only two hits over the last four innings.
The Cyclones beat the Yankees for the second straight night, this time in the home opener at MCU Park.
Municipal Credit Union President and CEO Kam Wong and Chairman of the Board of Directors Mark Brantley cut the ribbon on the renamed former Keyspan Park, the result of a 10-year naming rights deal that will have Cyclones fans texting each other, “CU@MCU” for a decade or more.
Brantley got to throw out the first pitch, too.
The newly named ballyard by the Boardwalk was christened in fine style, with a resounding 9-6 win — and a crowd of 9,888 fans, the largest ever Opening Day crowd in franchise history.
Yes, as in the season opener, the Yankees got on the board first, with two runs in the second, but the Cyclones stormed back, scoring early and often.
In the third, a run cam in on a Darrell Ceciliani, bases-loaded groundout.
But in the fourth, the Cyclones blew the game open with four runs, that was aided by a key error on a sacrifice bunt after a leadoff walk, a second error two batters later and a bases-loaded hit batsman. The big blow in the inning came on Jet Butler’s two-RBI single.
Two innings later, the Clones put up another four spot in a more conventional manner. Rylan Sandoval led off with a ground-rule double. And after a wild pitch and a walk, Ceciliani knocked in a run with a single. After a groundout by high draft pick Cory Vaughn, Jeff Flagg kept the rally going with an RBI single, and Joe Bonfe capped the inning with a two-RBI, two-out single.
Starter and winner Chris Hillard (6 IP, 3 hits, 5 Ks) was long gone by the time Cyclone reliever Hunter Carnivale tried to give the game back. The Yankees got four in the eighth, but reliever Nelson Pereira put out the fire.
Cyclone bats took the night off, managing just two hits off Yankee starter Michael O’Brien, and handing the hated Baby Bombers their first victory in three tries against the Cyclones this season.
Salvaging something out of the three-game opener to the 2010 season, the Yankees beat the Cyclones 2-1 on the Rock.
Staten Island got the scoring started with a run in the third, but the Cyclones tied it up in the sixth, thanks to an error.
A Cyclone error in the seventh set up the game’s final run, which came in on Luis Parache’s double.
Starter Angel Cuan pitched well, going six innings and yielding just one run. And reliever A.J. Pinera was hurt by that seventh-inning miscue by third baseman Jet Butler.
The Cyclones got the scoring started in the bottom of the first — and in a quite unconventional fashion. Twenty-year-old (today!) phenom Darrell Ceciliani smashed a triple to deep right field, and Cory Vaughn followed with a massive four-bagger to almost the same spot.
At MCU (formerly Keyspan) Park, there are typically only one or two deep drives to right field per year, thanks to the strong Atlantic Ocean breeze. The air current that keeps home fans comfortable also depresses the home team’s power numbers.
The Ironbirds got two runs off starter Wes Wrenn in the second, but only one single was hard hit.
But the Cyclones stormed back in the fourth. After a walk to Vaughn, Bill Cherry popped a double to deep left field, scoring the speedy Vaughn easily. A passed ball allowed another run.
In the sixth, Vaughn showed off his legs again, hitting a leadoff triple — and then scoring on an uncharacteristic suicide squeeze by Cherry.
Wrenn was largely effective, scattering six hits in six innings — and also striking out six.
Fire-throwing closer Johan Figuereo got himself into a bit of trouble, with a leadoff double in the eighth and a leadoff single in the ninth, but ended up striking out six for his second save.
The Cyclones couldn’t touch Aberdeen starter Tim Adelman — but when he was relieved to start the fifth inning, the Clones struck, scoring seven runs all of them off Bruno Sanchez.
All of the runs came with two outs. With runners on first and second, Jet Butler hit a bunt single to load them up for hot hitter Darrell Ceciliani, who promptly hit a two-run single. Ceciliani was 2-for-5 on the night to raise his average to .304.
After Cory Vaughn was intentionally walked, two more runs came in on an error and a wild pitch.
J.B. Brown capped the scoring with a single to center.
The ’Birds did get three runs back in the sixth inning, but it was too little, too late — especially as the Clones added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, both on sacrifice flies.
Starter Mitchell Houck was crisp in his five innings of work, yielding just two hits and striking out three, for his first win.
Cyclone home games at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 19th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449-8497]. For info, visit www.brooklyncyclones.com.