Mired in the McNamara Division cellar for the better part of June and July, the Brooklyn Cyclones have refused to give up the fight for their third consecutive playoff berth under manager Rich Donnelly.
The Baby Bums displayed that never-say-die moxie again Wednesday night at MCU Park, battling back from behind three times before pulling out a 4-3 victory over the visiting Connecticut Tigers before 7,522 Brooklyn baseball fanatics.
Just hours after workers sand-blasted and power-washed away the racist rhetoric that temporarily sullied the beloved statue of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese outside the main gates of the Cyclones' sun-splashed stadium by the sea, Brooklyn players took the field for the first time since the hate-inspired incident.
The Cyclones fell behind 1-0 when starter Robert Gsellman, one of four Brooklyn pitchers headed to next week's New York-Penn League All-Star Game in Norwich, Conn., surrendered an RBI double to Dominic Ficociello in the opening frame.
But as they did all night, and all season for that matter, the Mets' Class A short-season franchise battled back almost immediately, evening the contest at 1-1 when leadoff man Patrick Biondi drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second.
The Tigers jumped back on top when Ficociello boomed another run-scoring double in the top of the fifth, but Alex Sanchez's RBI single in the bottom half of the inning knotted the contest at 2-2.
After Gsellman yielded one earned run on four hits over five solid frames, reliever David Wynn looked to keep the Cyclones even, but was touched for a run in the top of the seventh when shortstop Gavin Cecchini made an errant throw on a forceout attempt that could have started an inning-ending double play.
Again, the resilient Cyclones found the resolve to overcome in the bottom of the eighth as Jonathan Clark and Tomas Nido delivered one-out RBI singles to put Brooklyn in front to stay.
All-Star pen man John Mincone made sure that was the final lead change of the night, getting the final three outs around a two-out single by Ficociello as the Cyclones (24-24) climbed back to .500 and pulled within 1 1/2 games of first-place Aberdeen in the tightly packed McNamara race.
Mincone's sixth save of the summer leaves him just one shy of league leader Trevor Bayless of Vermont.
Clark and Nido each had two of the Cyclones' 10 hits as Brooklyn improved to 4-2 in August entering Thursday night's series finale against the Tigers.
The Cyclones will host State College for a three-game set this weekend before getting their customary two-day All-Star break prior to the stretch run toward what they hope will be yet another postseason appearance.
This, That and the Other Thing: LHP Paul Paez picked up the win in relief Wednesday night after recording the final out of the eighth inning. ... All-Star 2B LJ Mazzilli, who has been straddling the .300 mark for the past several weeks, took an 0-for-4 collar in Wednesday's win, dropping his average to .296 -- still the highest of any Brooklyn regular and 14th overall among the NY-Penn batting leaders. ... LF Biondi ranks fourth on the circuit with 15 steals this summer. ... The Cyclones issued a statement regarding the defacing of the Robinson statue prior to Wednesday night's game: "Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese embody the humanity and inclusiveness that make our borough, city and country great," the statement read. "It is both heartbreaking and deeply disturbing that this statue, which is a symbol of equality and tolerance, has been defaced in such an offensive and hateful way."