By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The McNamara Division-leading Brooklyn Cyclones' formula for success thus far this season — strong starting pitching, a penchant for clutch hitting and a stingy bullpen — was undone by a single botched play Tuesday night in Hudson Valley.
Such is life at the Class A short-season level.
A throwing error by normally sure-handed first baseman Cole Frenzel on the front end of a potential double play grounder led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Baby Bums saw their season high-tying three-game winning streak come to an end with a hard-to-swallow 4-2 loss to the Renegades before 4,348 fans at Dutchess Stadium in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.
After Brooklyn starter Luis Cessa, a 20-year-old, 6-foot-3 right-hander out of Cordoba Vera Cruz, Mexico, fired five solid innings and Frenzel and right fielder Eudy Pina delivered run-scoring hits in the top of the second, middle reliever Darwin Frias (1-2) was called upon to get the ball to the back end of the Cyclones' ultra-reliable bullpen.
The Dominican righty, also 20, worked around a walk in the sixth before running into trouble he couldn't escape in the seventh. Frias surrendered a one-out single to Justin O'Conner and walked Leonardo Reginatto to set up the game's biggest play.
Thomas Coyle followed with a grounder to Frenzel, who quickly fired to second in the hopes of starting an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play, but the 2011 New York-Penn League leader in fielding percentage among first basemen watched helplessly as his throw sailed past shortstop Phillip Evans and into left field.
O'Conner came all the way around to score on the seemingly harmless infield grounder and Reginatto scampered to third, while Coyle took second when left fielder Stefan Sabol made an errant throw into the infield. The double error came back to haunt the Cyclones again when Frias uncorked a wild pitch, sending Reginatto home with the go-ahead run.
Deshun Dixon followed with a sacrifice fly to cap the three-run outburst, and the Brooklyn bats weren't able to answer over the final two frames, despite bringing the tying run to the plate in both innings.
With the defeat, Brooklyn (6-3) fell back into a first-place tie with the Renegades (6-3) entering Wednesday night's rubber contest of the three-game series at Coney Island's MCU Park.
With four wins in their first six road games, the Cyclones hope to begin loading up at home as each of their next four contests will be on Surf Avenue, where they have won two of three thus far this year.
“We took advantage of their mistakes,” Coyle told the Poughkeepsie Journal one night after his team endured a 3-0 blanking on Coney Island.“I think it was us and Brooklyn at the top (of the division) and we kind of had a rough night last night so it feels good to get going again and playing like we were the first few games [of the season].”
Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly's "You're gonna get knocked down, but you have to bounce back up" mantra will be put to the test throughout the 76-game grind of the NY-Penn campaign. Tuesday's crushing defeat provides the perfect opportunity for an early-season pop quiz of sorts for the Baby Bums.
This, That and the Other Thing: RF Pina once again showed off his uncanny ability to come through in the clutch. The 21-year-old Dominican native has nine hits in 34 at-bats this season for a .265 batting average, but leads Brooklyn with 10 RBIs. Pina, who signed with the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 and earned Dominican Summer League All-Star honors in 2010, is hitting a sizzling .455 (5-for-11) with runners in scoring position. ... 2B Richie Rodriguez, the Mets' ninth round pick out of Eastern Kentucky earlier this month, continues his early-season struggles Tuesday night, going 0-for-5 out of the leadoff spot to drop his average to .042. ... CF Brandon Nimmo went 0-for-3 Tuesday to drop his average to .167, but did manage to draw his team-leading 11th walk. ... The Cyclones, who are wearing a commemorative patch in honor of recently deceased broadcaster Warner Fusselle this summer, will also don a "Kid 8" patch during Friday's home game against Aberdeen in honor of former Mets great Gary Carter. The Hall of Fame catcher, who lost his long courageous battle with brain cancer in February, will be honored throughout the evening at MCU Park and the orange-and-blue jerseys the Cyclones wear on the diamond will be raffled off to benefit the Gary Carter Foundation, which has a "mission to better the physical, mental and spiritual well being of children in need."