The Cyclones repeatedly staved off defeat to win a do-or-die playoff game against the Jamestown Jammers on Wednesday night, tying their first-round series at one game apiece with the rubber game tonight at MCU Park.
In what will go down as one of the most-exciting wins in Cyclone history, Brooklyn beat Jamestown 9–8 after rallying twice in the late innings to tie the score, sending the game into extra frames — where Juan Centeno’s monstrous double off the centerfield wall set up a walk-off wild pitch.
The lead changed hands nine times on the night.
“The players didn’t quit,” said Cyclones skipper Wally Backman. “They showed real character and toughness.”
Jamestown got on the board first, with a run on a groundout in the second inning, but the Clones tied the score in the bottom of the frame on Jeff Flagg’s double and a subsequent groundout.
Jamestown added another run off starter Angel Cuan on back-to-back doubles in the fifth, but the Cyclones exploded for four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Centeno led off with a double and scored on James Schroeder’s single. After a single by Darrell Ceciliani put men on first and third, J.B. Brown’s sacrifice fly plated Schroeder. Cory Vaughn then doubled home Ceciliani, and later scored on a throwing error on a ground ball by Flagg, who was injured on the play.
After the game, Backman said that Flagg, who was second on the team in RBIs and was a steady presence at first base all season, had likely pulled his hamstring and would not play on Thursday night.
The Jammers hit a solo shot in the top of the sixth to make the score 5–3, but the Cyclones got that run back in the seventh on a Will Cherry single.
But when Cuan was replaced by reliever Johan Figuereo to start the eighth, Jamestown erupted for four runs, hitting four straight singles before Figuereo was replaced by Adam Kolarek, who gave up another RBI before getting out of the inning with the score 7–6.
“He’d only given up one hit against the Jammers all year, but he really struggled tonight,” Backman said of Figuereo, who was charged with a blown save and was jeered by the crowd as he made his walk of shame to the dugout.
But the Cyclones tied it up again in the eighth, thanks to an infield hit by Brown that trickled just far enough away from the third baseman to let Ceciliani charge home from second.
“We played that way all year and we’re not going to change now,” said Backman, who was waiving Ceciliani home from his position as third-base coach. “We like to force the defense to make that throw.”
Reliever Hamilton Bennett promptly gave up a run on back-to-back doubles in the ninth, dashing the Cyclone hopes once again.
The small crowed at MCU Park got behind the hometown Clones one more time in the bottom of the ninth, standing on their feet as Joe Bonfe and Cherry singled, putting men on first and third with one out — and Centeno promptly delivered the game-tying sacrifice fly, sending the contest into extra innings at eight runs apiece.
Closer Ryan Fraser kept the Jammers off the board with three innings of one-hit, five-strikeout pitching.
In the end, Centeno played the hero’s role in the 12th inning with a blast to centerfield that was inches away from a walkoff dinger. After a sacrifice bunt, pinch runner ZeErika McQueen scored on the wild pitch.
“After about two-thirds of the season, when we were 10 games up, we relaxed,” Backman said. “But in the playoffs, with our backs to the wall, they really showed what they’re made of.”
The final game of the three-game series is tonight at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 19th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449-8497]. For info, visit www.brooklyncyclones.com. If the Cyclones win, Game 1 of the championship series will be against Batavia or Tri-City on the road.