Brooklyn Sweeps Williamsport Following Ugly Eight-Game Slide
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
First-year Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa admitted that his team’s confidence was at an all-time low following its season-high eight-game losing streak, which culminated in last Friday night’s ugly 12-7, 15-inning home defeat to Jamestown.
Having committed five errors in back-to-back contests, and winless since a 4-0 victory at State College on July 9, the Baby Bums were desperate to get off the schneid and remember what it felt like to walk off the field as victors.
Brooklyn’s staff ace Octavio Acosta stopped the bleeding Saturday night in front of 7,174 fans at MCU Park, striking out seven over eight brilliant frames as the Cyclones opened what would turn into a three-game sweep of visiting Williamsport with an 8-4 victory.
“My goal on the mound is to just set down the batters I face and stay consistent,” Acosta noted on the team’s web site. “When we’re losing, especially with the streak, once we got the lead, I just wanted to remain consistent and felt that my responsibility was to pitch seven or eight innings since we played 15 innings the night before.”
Acosta, Brooklyn’s Opening Day starter, improved to 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA after limiting the CrossCutters to an unearned run on four hits without issuing a walk before Luis Mateo was touched for three runs in the ninth.
“We all had the mentality that we just wanted to win,” admitted Acosta, who was named the Cyclones’ Player of the Week for his clutch performance on the hill.
“During our losing streak we were disconnected, but [Saturday] night the other guys and I went out there and just tried to win, and luckily we did,” he added.
And they kept on winning, thanks to two more gems from their starters.
Corey Oswalt earned New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors after hurling seven scoreless frames in Sunday’s 6-0 blanking of the ‘Cutters, and Marcos Molina added eight strikeouts over seven innings Monday afternoon as Brooklyn completed the sweep with a 5-2 win.
“Pitching, defense and some timely hitting,” Gamboa noted when asked about the reasons for his team’s sudden turnaround. “It’s nice to see us win a couple in a row after the rough week that we had. It certainly starts to re-establish some confidence.
“It is a giant step in the right direction,” added the Brooklyn skipper. “Our confidence level was at an all-time low. When you’re losing eight in a row, everything seems to bite you when you’re going bad. … We have a chance to start building momentum as we open the road trip in Aberdeen on Tuesday.”
One length shy of the official half-way point of their 76-game grind of a season, the Cyclones (18-19) must now take their winning ways on the road as they play a two-game set against the IronBirds before returning for a weekend series on Coney Island against Vermont.
Despite its recent resurgence, Brooklyn remains nine games behind first-place Hudson Valley (27-10) in the hunt for the top spot in the McNamara Division, but is now only two games back of wild card-leading Staten Island (20-17) for the circuit’s fourth and final playoff spot.
After permitting a slew of unearned runs during their seemingly interminable slide, the Cyclones actually benefited from a pair of Williamsport errors in the opening frame on Saturday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on two fielding gaffes before opening the advantage to 5-0 in the second.
Oswalt did the rest, limiting Williamsport to two hits while fanning five before Scarlyn Reyes closed the ‘Cutters out with two no-hit frames of relief.
“It was nice to see our offense get some runs for us early,” a relieved Gamboa said.
After Acosta’s masterpiece on Saturday, and Oswalt’s bit of mound mastery Sunday, Molina made sure Brooklyn fans exited MCU Park joyously on Monday afternoon after the Cyclones hosted Camp Day for local youths.
“It’s nice to see Corey follow up on Acosta’s outing (Saturday) night,” Gamboa said. “Molina is tough for anybody to handle and the offense is starting to find its gait. We are definitely swinging the bats better and after those two five-error games in a row, it’s nice to see us playing better defense too.”
With their worst stretch of the summer out of the way, the Cyclones have half the season to fight their way back into serious playoff contention after missing out on the postseason last summer.
They also can finally see past the harsh waters that threatened to sink their ship before it set sail into the dog days of late July and August.
“It looks like the tide is turning now,” Gamboa said.
This, That and the Other Thing: The newest Cyclones, recently signed first-round draft pick Michael Conforto, has been the key to Brooklyn’s offensive resurgence since joining the team on Saturday. The Oregon State star is batting .417 (5-for-12) with a double, an RBI and three runs scored in his first three games at the pro level. Read this week’s Eagle sports pages or log on to www.brooklyneagle.com for a profile piece on Brooklyn’s new outfielder.