By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Cyclones continued to bolster their impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio Wednesday night in Staten Island.
But as an added caveat, the Baby Bums' bats caught fire in their third straight win over the defending New York-Penn League champion Yankees, en route to a relatively easy 7-2 triumph before a crowd of 6,165 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
Right fielder Eudy Pina led the offensive onslaught, going 2-for-4 with a homer, double, two runs scored and a season-best four RBIs, as the Cyclones improved to 3-0 on the season against their archrivals. The 21-year-old Dominican native, who received the Sterling Award in 2010 as the MVP of the Mets' Dominican Summer League affiliate, erased an early 1-0 deficit with his first long ball of the summer, a three-run blast over the wall in center that gave Brooklyn the lead for good, 3-1.
He also walked and scored in the sixth before capping his big night with a run-scoring double in the seventh. The performance highlighted an eight-hit effort by the Cyclones, who relied heavily on their pitching in taking the first two games of the season-opening four-game set, outscoring the Baby Bums, 6-1.
Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly and batting instructor Bobby Malek, an alum of the team's NY-Penn championship squad from 2001, have urged the youngest club in Cylones' history to exercise discipline at the plate.
“Our whole philosophy is get a good pitch to hit," noted Donnelly, who led the Cyclones to a 45-29 mark last year before they were eliminated by S.I. in the opening round of the playoffs.
"Don’t get a pitch that you can hit, but can’t drive," he added. "It’s like a soldier in a fox hole. There’s smart aggressive and there’s dumb aggressive. You just can’t go out there charging, and that’s what our young guys have to learn.”
Apparently, those lessons are penetrating the minds of the Baby Bums, who boast eight teenagers on the 40-man squad, including 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo, who contributed a double, RBI and two walks to the attack Wednesday.
"Anyway I can help the team win, that’s what I want to do," said Nimmo, who is being tabbed as the next big thing to come out of Coney Island for the Class A short-season franchise, which has already helped develop 36 major leaguers during its first 11 seasons on Coney Island.
Brooklyn batters displayed great patience in amassing eight walks against Yankee hurlers, while Cyclones starter Luis Cessa (1-0) yielded two runs on six hits with no free passes and four strikeouts over five solid innings. The relief trio of Ernesto Yanez, David Wynn and Buck Wheeler followed with four scoreless frames, with Yanez issuing the lone walk of the night.
Though it has only been three games, Cyclones hurlers have yielded a league-low three walks while fanning a league-best 30. The team's combined 1.00 ERA also is tops on the 14-team circuit.
If Brooklyn's offense can continue to follow the lead of its pitching staff, there's no telling how far the Cyclones can go in 2012.
“Rich is a pretty laid back dude," shortstop Phillip Evans said of Donnelly's demeanor. "He’s very confident in our hitters this year.”
With more performances like the one Wednesday night, there's no reason to believe the second-year skipper's confidence won't continue to swell throughout the long, hot summer. Especially if the Cyclones are able to compete their first-ever four-game sweep in the Verrazano Series Thursday night.
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This, That and the Other Thing: 2B Rich Rodriguez, the Mets' ninth round pick out of Eastern Kentucky in this month's draft, made his first start of the season Wednesday, going 0-for-5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. The 22-year-old infielder belted 14 homers and drove in 46 runs during his senior year, earning All-Ohio Valley Conference First-Team honors. ... Though he's only batting .222, CF Nimmo boasts a .500 on-base percentage, thanks to drawing five walks through the Cyclones' first three games. ... Brooklyn improved to 12-5 in its last 17 regular-season contests against S.I. ... The teams will conclude their four-game series Thursday night on Coney Island before the Cyclones head off on their first true road trip of the season with a three-game set at Aberdeen. Brooklyn won't be home against until next Monday, June 25. ... Those willing to show up in the heat after 7 p.m. for Thursday's series finale with the Yanks can buy a Beat the Heat special $5 ticket to the game.