Drop finale of season-opening four-game set with Yankees
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 2014 Cyclones began their season-opening four-game series against the rival Yankees with a big bang before a standing-room only crowd in Brooklyn on Saturday night, only to complete it with a dud in front of 4,814 paying customers Monday evening at Coney Island’s MCU Park.
After having their originally scheduled opener washed away in Staten Island on Friday night, the Cyclones (2-2) wasted little time showing off their brand new lineup for the Baby Bums’ faithful on Saturday.
They cruised to an 8-2 victory behind a solid performance from Opening Day starter Octavio Acosta and nine big hits, including four for extra-bases, from new manager Tom Gamboa’s initial starting nine.
Brandon Welch (1-0) picked up the win in relief after Acosta, pitching his first full season following an elbow procedure which forced him to miss back-to-back campaigns, limited the Baby Bombers (2-2) to a run on two hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.
Welch and Shane Bay combined to give up a run on three hits over the final 4 1/3 frames, helping the Cyclones to a solid start after they went 0-3 to kick off 2013 during Rich Donnelly’s third and final year as the Brooklyn skipper.
“I thought the guys handled it really good,” Gamboa said of his neophyte roster playing in front of an Opening Night crowd of 8,175 fans.
“I was really pleasantly surprised with how good the guys handled [the atmosphere], all three pitchers had good stuff.”
They also had plenty of offensive support as the outfield tandem of Michael Bernal and Joe Tuschak delivered back-to-back RBI doubles in the second inning to give Brooklyn a 2-0 lead that it would not surrender thereafter.
Third baseman/catcher Thomas Nido, one of five Cyclones enjoying their second summer at MCU, ripped a two-run double to center field in the third inning, widening the gap to 4-0.
“It’s always important to win for us, we’re trying to get [to] the last game of the season and win it all,” noted Nido, who was part of the Brooklyn squad that barely missed out on the postseason last summer.
“Getting the win against the Yankees, that’s great, cause last year we started off slow, we went 0-3, so getting that first win was great,” he added.
The Brooklyn bats went dead in Staten Island during the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, combining for 18 strikeouts and an 0-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position in a tough 2-1 loss to the Yanks.
Cyclones starter Casey Meisner did put forth a very successful season debut in the defeat, however, allowing an unearned run on two hits over 4 1/3 solid innings.
Originally scheduled for seven innings, as per Minor League rules regarding doubleheaders, the game didn’t end until the bottom of the ninth when Brooklyn reliever Edioglis Villasmil walked Tyler McFarland with the bases jammed to force in the winning run.
The Baby Bums bounced right back in the nightcap as 19-year-old hurler Marcos Molina fired six brilliant frames and Bernal came through with a clutch RBI double in the top of the seventh to help Brooklyn to a 3-2 triumph.
In Monday’s series finale, the Yankees took advantage of four Cyclones errors and a whopping nine walks, two wild pitches and balk by the Brooklyn pitching staff en route to an easy 7-2 win on Surf Avenue.
Tuschak, a left-handed hitting outfielder who spent the past few seasons at the Mets’ Appalachian League affiliate in Kingsport, went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored Monday to cap a strong opening series.
The Pennsylvania native is batting .385 with a .538 slugging percentage and 1.005 OPS in his first four games with Brooklyn.
With their initial Battle of the Bridge Series complete, the Cyclones were scheduled to host Hudson Valley on Tuesday night before departing on a five-game road trip beginning with two games against the Renegades (4-0) and three in a row at Aberdeen.
Brooklyn returns to MCU Park on Monday, June 23 to open a home-and-home series with Hudson Valley.
This, That and the Other Thing: Welch, a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Florida, got pumped up during his hitless and scoreless performance during Saturday’s Opening Night win at MCU. “It was a big crowd, but I like pitching in front of bit crowds like that, it just gives you momentum,” he revealed. “It gets your adrenaline pumping more and more, it’s fun to pitch in situations like that.” … OF Bernal is off to a 4-for-12 (.333) start with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. The 22-year-old Dominican has been in the organization since 2010, serving parts of two seasons each with the DSL and Kingsport Mets, respectively. … Gamboa, back in big league-affiliated baseball for the first time since 2011, hadn’t managed a game since stepping down from his post with Class A Advanced Inland Empire of the California League three summers ago to tend to his ailing mother. A former Major League coach with four decades of baseball experience, Gamboa appears to be the perfect replacement for Donnelly, who is back in the Majors as third-base coach for the Seattle Mariners this year. “I’m just trying to pass on my experience to help the players,” the 66-year-old Gamboa noted of his return to the dugout. “It has definitely re-energized me to be around young people.”