Loss leaves Clones clinging to one-game lead in wild card race

Two Clones relievers haven’t given up a run — all season!

Hudson Valley Renegades 3
Cyclones 1

Aug. 30 at MCU Park

The once untouchable Paul Sewald gave up a two-run homer in the top of the ninth — leaving the Clones just one game ahead of the surging Batavia Muckdogs in the NY–Penn League’s wild card race.

The dinger came after a tense pitching duel between Renegades starter Eduar Quinonez and Brooklyn hurler Luis Mateo.

Quinonez limited the pride of Coney Island to five hits, three walks, and just one run in six innings of work. That lone run came in the second when Brooklyn second baseman Alexander Sanchez singled with one away, then advanced to third on a base-hit off the bat of right fielder Maikis De La Cruz. Sanchez scored when center fielder Brandon Nimmo grounded into a force out.

Meanwhile Brooklyn starter Luis Mateo gave up just four hits and one walk, striking out eight batters in seven innings on the rubber. But the Dominican righty surrendered the game-tying run in the fourth frame, after opening the inning by plunking center fielder Joey Rickard. Mateo then forced second baseman Thomas Coyle to ground out and fanned third baseman Richie Shaffer. But a passed ball by catcher Nelfi Zapata allowed Rickard to take third and Mateo walked first baseman Ryan Dunn, putting runners on the corners. Designated hitter Justin O’Conner then chopped a grounder to right to drive Rickard in.

Sewald — who boasted a perfect 0.00 ERA for the season before giving up two runs to the Vermont Lake Monsters on Aug. 19 — took the mound in the eighth, and kept the Renegades from scoring. But he opened the ninth by letting Dunn single. The closer then fanned O’Conner to bring up shortstop Leonardo Reginatto, who crushed one over the left field wall.

The Clones dropped back to five games behind the McNamara division-leading Renegades — but more frightening is their increasingly narrow lead in the wild card race over the Muckdogs, who have been on a six-game tear. Only six games remain in the regular season.

The Cyclones are home again at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 17th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449–8497, www.brooklyncyclones.com] tonight at 7 pm as they take on the Hudson Valley Renegades.

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