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Wait ‘til next year! Cyclones eliminated from playoff contention

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The Cyclones’ surge to the playoffs ended with a heartbreaking, extra-inning loss on Friday night — one of just four losses that the team suffered in its last 16 games.

Despite that string, the Cyclones never pulled far enough ahead of their main wild-card rival, the Jamestown Jammers — so when the Jammers swept a doubleheader on the same night, the Cyclones suddenly found themselves on the outside of the New York-Penn League playoffs looking in.

“You know what? I feel sad, but also I feel very happy, because to me, everybody got better [down the stretch],” said manager Edgar Alfonzo, whose team looked dead before the amazing run. “To me, when you’re 15 games over .500 [the Cyclones ended the year at 45-30], it is a successful season.”

“After the game, I said, ‘Guys, I’m proud, and I’m happy because you worked so hard. You guys got here in June and you had no clue as to what was going on. You struggled for a month, and we tried to teach you guys the game, and you worked hard and that paid off at the end.’ I told everyone I wasn’t upset.”

Alfonzo blamed injuries more than anything else.

“We had injuries and a lot of people coming in and out,” he said. “It’s kind of hard, to go day-by-day and lose games, but we have to play with the players we have. I have more gray hair now.”

Just because the Mets minor-league affiliate didn’t make the playoffs doesn’t mean the Big League squad doesn’t have reason to cheer. This year, a future Seaver emerged in the form of Brad Holt, a first-round draft choice who initially struggled, but poured it on in the end, finishing with a 5–3 record and a stingy 1.87 ERA. He struck out 96 batters in 72-1/3 innings.

“The other night at Aberdeen, Holt hit 100 miles-an-hour on the gun,” said pitching coach Hector Berrios. “Three digits. I’ve never seen that live myself.

“Holt will be a starter. He’s very athletic, and with a world of talent. The sky’s the limit once he gets [his secondary pitches]. He’ll be a guy at the front of the Mets’ rotation, maybe two years down the road.”

Here’s how the last game — and this season — went down:

Ironbirds 5
Cyclones 3 (11 inns.)

Sept. 5 at Keyspan Park

The contest started out so well, too. The Cyclones scored in the first — on Eric Campbell’s SAC fly — and added two runs in the second after a Seth Williams leadoff triple, back-to-back singles by Josh Satin and Ike Davis and back-to-back sacrifices by Wilmer “Kid” Flores and Jose Jimenez.

But that was all the scoring for the Clones.

Aberdeen tied the score with three in the fourth and then won it in the 11th with a barrage of hits against Yury Santana, the Cyclones closer who was so reliable all year.

As they say in Brooklyn, wait ’til next year.

Updated 4:54 pm, September 11, 2008
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