By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After going 4-2 on their season-high six-game road trip, including a three-game sweep at State College, Pa., over the weekend, the Brooklyn Cyclones suffered through an unhappy homecoming at MCU Park on a sweltering Tuesday night.
Playing in front of the home faithful — 7,590 of them to be exact — for the first time since July 9, the Baby Bums (18-11) were on the wrong end of a 4-1 decision against the second-place Hudson Valley Renegades (17-12), who pulled within one game of tying Brooklyn for the lead in the McNamara Division.
Cyclones starter Julian Hilario (0-2) was reached for four runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings before the Brooklyn bullpen throttled the Renegades' offense over the next 5 2/3 frames. Unfortunately, other than red-hot center fielder Brandon Nimmo's RBI double in the sixth, the Cyclones' offense wasn't able to respond.
Brooklyn managed only four hits, two of which came in the sixth, against Hudson Valley starter Jesse Hahn and reliever Eduar Quinonez (2-1), who went the final five innings to pick up the win on the 91 degree night on Coney Island.
Nimmo, who drove in his team-leading 17th run with his seventh two-bagger of the summer, finished 1-for-4 to keep his season average at .250. The 19-year-old former first-round pick is batting .333 over his last 10 games after struggling to reach the Mendoza mark during the season's first three weeks.
Shortstop Phillip Evans, left fielder Stefan Sabol and right fielder Eudy Pina, who doubled and scored in the sixth, had the other hits for the Cyclones, who went right back out on the road Wednesday evening for a rematch with the Renegades at Hudson Valley's Dutchess Stadium. With a loss Wednesday night, the Baby Bums would enter the opener of their much-anticipated four-game set at Staten Island on Thursday deadlocked for first place.
The defending New York-Penn League champion Yankees (12-18) were 6 1/2 games back of Brooklyn entering their home game vs. Aberdeeen on Wednesday night.
Hilario, still searching for his first win after five outings, including four starts, set the Renegades down in order in the first inning before Luke Maile led off the top of the second with his first homer of the year for Hudson Valley. Things got worse for the 21-year-old Dominican hurler in the fourth as the Renegades struck for three more runs, two of which scampered across the plate on Leonardo Reginatto's line double to right.
Following the bit hit, Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly called on reliever Ernesto Yanez, who combined with Matthew Koch and Logan Taylor to keep Hudson Valley in check the rest of the evening.
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This, That and the Other Thing: Alarmingly, the Cyclones are only 8-7 at MCU Park this summer, compared to an impressive 10-4 road mark. ... The first 3,000 fans who attend Friday night's home showdown with the Yankees will receive a Dillon Gee Bobblehead Doll, courtesy of Brooklyn's Lutheran Medical Center. Gee, who is currently on the Mets' disabled list while recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from his right shoulder, pitched for the Cyclones during his pro debut season in 2007. The former 21st-round pick out of UT-Arlington went 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 14 appearances, including 11 starts, during his lone summer on Coney Island. ... The Cyclones hurler making the biggest impact in the New York-Penn League this summer is doubtlessly right-hander Luis Mateo, who for the second time this month was named the circuit's Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Mateo, a 22-year-old non-drafted free agent who signed with the Mets in 2011, improved to 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA this season after holding State College to one hit over seven scoreless innings on Saturday. Mateo has fanned 38 while walking only three over 30 2/3 innings through his first five starts for Brooklyn.