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Swept away: Clones fall to Auburn

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The amazing run of the 2007 Brooklyn Cyclones ended in ignominious fashion: a clean two-game sweep by the Auburn Doubledays in the New York–Penn League championship series.

It never looked like it would end this way. Not only did the Cyclones lead their division from wire to wire this season, but the team also swept its first-round playoff series, dispensing with the nefarious Staten Island Yankees with two heart-stopping, gutsy wins.

But the finals were a different story.

The Doubledays dominated the opening game on Sept. 13, winning 7–1 in Auburn. Then beat Brooklyn, 4–1, the next night, in Coney Island.

“It’s not disappoint­ing,” said Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo. “We have a group of kids that played hard all year. We had the best record and the best team [during the regular season]. Overall, I think this was a very positive season for these kids.”

Positive until the last two games, that is. And, yet, it had started so well. Brooklyn got on the board first, scoring a run in the second on a no-out bases-loaded sac fly by Cesar Cordido. But failing to score a second run would come back to haunt the McNamara Division champs.

Thankfully, Cyclones starter Dillon Gee was brilliant, shutting out Auburn over his five innings — including striking out the last six batters he faced.

The Clones again loaded the bases in the sixth, but Reyes grounded out to end the threat.

Then, Gee turned it over to reliever Steve Clyne. And apres lui, le deluge.

Auburn broke the game open with a three-run sixth — and then added four runs in the eighth against relievers Will Morgan and Edgar Ramirez, putting the game out of reach. Morgan had loaded the bases and allowed one run on a wild pitch, and then Ramirez gave up a run-scoring walk and a two-run single.

The series moved to Brooklyn the next night, and again the Cyclones got on the board first, thanks to a leadoff homer in the first by Micah Schilling.

Brooklyn had an opportunity to break the game open as Jake Eigsti followed Schilling’s homer with a single. But Ramon Castro, the Mets’ back-up catcher who was playing with Brooklyn as he rehabbed his arthritic back, hit a grounder to second. Unable to run with any speed, Castro was doubled up at first.

Auburn starter Brett Cecil, a top draft pick with a 1.27 ERA, mowed down Brooklyn.

But Antonini was just as good, and Brooklyn kept its 1-0 lead until the top of the fifth, when Antonini gave up a two-run homer.

He gave up another two-run coffin nail in the sixth.

Effective relief pitching by Brant Rustich and Eddie Kunz was wasted as the Cyclone bats remained as frozen as the long Coney Island winter will feel without that championship flag flying over Keyspan Park.

But there’s still a warm feeling in the skipper’s heart.

“They are better players and better people on and off the field after this season,” said Alfonzo.

“We’re trying to develop players and winners, so going all the way to the finals wasn’t that bad.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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