Tuschak, Oswalt Pace 'Clones to 5-1 Victory over Renegades
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
To a man, the Cyclones were embarrassed by the way they played in Monday night’s ugly 7-2 loss to the rival Staten Island Yankees.
The Baby Bums committed four errors, surrendered nine walks, uncorked a pair of wild pitches and committed a balk during the finale of the season-opening four-game set against their Verrazano rivals in front of the home faithful.
But Tuesday night on Coney Island, Brooklyn bounced back in a big way, cruising to a 5-1 triumph over the previously unbeaten and defending New York-Penn League champion Hudson Valley Renegades before 4,508 fans at MCU Park.
“It was very important (to bounce back),” insisted left fielder Joe Tuschak after belting the Cyclones’ first home run of the young season, a solo shot in the fourth inning, to stake Brooklyn starter Corey Oswalt to a comfortable 4-0 lead.
“We just focused on getting runs,” added Tuschak, who is batting a sizzling .375 with two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored in Brooklyn’s first five games.
It didn’t take long for the Cyclones (3-2) to get the bad taste of Monday’s humbling loss out of their mouths.
After Oswalt worked around a two-out single in the top of the opening frame, recently drafted center fielder Tucker Tharp reached on an error to lead off the bottom.
Shortstop Amed Rosario followed with a single, sending Tharp to third, before first baseman Michael Katz ripped a two-run triple to center field, clearing the bases and giving the Bums an early 2-0 advantage.
Thomas Nido’s run-scoring groundout plated Katz to make it 3-0 before Oswalt re-took the mound.
“Right at the beginning of the game we put runs on the board and that gave us confidence throughout the game,” said the 20-year-old right-hander from San Diego.
“It puts pressure on the other team,” he added. “It’s nice to have runs on the board, but it doesn’t change my game plan. Overall, I just go out there and compete.”
And compete he did, scattering three hits over six scintillating innings without issuing a walk and racking up eight strikeouts before Scarlyn Reyes finished up with a tidy three-inning save.
“I felt really good,” noted Oswalt, who pitched at Rookie-level Kingsport the previous two seasons.
“I just really mentally prepared for my start. I just trusted my game plan. Tonight, I was throwing a lot two-seam [fastballs], trying to throw their rhythm off.”
The rhythm-impaired Renegades (4-1) were held scoreless until Katz’s error at first with two outs in the ninth plated Clayton Henning.
Reyes, who amassed four strikeouts over the final three frames to give Brooklyn a total of 12 for the contest, got Chris Talley to hit into a force out, giving the Cyclones their second home win of the year.
Oswalt, who retired 14 batters in a row during one stretch, was taken aback at first by the enthusiasm of the Brooklyn crowd. But he learned to enjoy it as the night wore on, and his mastery of the Renegades gave fans more and more reason to stand up and cheer.
“I’m from the city in San Diego, but it is not anything like this,” Oswalt said. “It’s definitely different. But overall, I’m adjusting really well [to Brooklyn].”
Tuschak, who homered just three times in 56 games at Kingsport last year, was relieved to belt his first long ball of the season early in the campaign.
His two-out blast in the fourth off Hudson Valley starter D.J. Slaton (0-1) was a screaming line drive and appeared to hit off the top of the right-field wall, but was immediately ruled a homer by the base umpire.
“I honestly didn’t think it was gone,” Tuschak revealed after admitting that he was trying to leg out a triple when he was informed that he could slow down and cruise into his home run trot.
“I was very surprised, very happy,” he added. “The last couple of years I haven’t hit many home runs, so to hit the first one this year takes a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
Tuschak credited his hot start to Mets Minor League instructor and former star second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, who was on hand at MCU Park Tuesday.
“It’s awesome,” Tuschak said of working on his swing with the Met icon. “I always heard about him on TV, never thought he’d be my coach here. The last couple of games I’ve been more aggressive. He’s definitely helped me a lot.”
Alfonzo overheard Tuschak talking about him to reporters and quickly interjected with a jibe: “What’s he saying? That I lost weight?”
Brooklyn hit the road Wednesday night for the opener of a five-game road trip, beginning with two contests at Hudson Valley. The Cyclones return to MCU Park on Monday night to once again host the Renegades.
This, That and the Other Thing: 1B Katz finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs on Tuesday, upping his season average to a team-best .444 (4-for-9) with two doubles, a triple and a stolen base in four games. The 21-year-old from William and Mary College is a native of Falls Church, Virginia. … OF Tharp went 0-for-4 with a run scored Tuesday, dropping him to .053 (1-for-19) at the plate. … On Sunday, June 29, the Cyclones will host their 10th Annual Take Your Base Run/Walk on the famous Reigelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island. The fee for registration is $40 until June 22, and $50 thereafter. Those interested may register in person (cash only) at packet pickup and on the morning of the race. The registration cost includes an official Take Your Base Jersey, a ticket to 2014 Brooklyn Cyclones home game, a photo taken of each runner as they cross home plate, and an invitation to a post race party with free food and beer/soft drinks. For more info, or to register online, visit https://nycruns.com/races/?race=the-take-your-base-5k-2014