Cyclones

Rich Donnelly stunned Brooklyn fans and the Cyclones organization earlier this winter when he announced that he’d be leaving Coney Island for an opportunity to manage the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, Wash.

Just two months later, Donnelly is already out of that job – and on to an even bigger one as the Mariners’ third-base coach after John Stearns announced last Friday that he would be unable to man the post due to his difficult recovery from hiatal-hernia surgery.

Tom Gamboa had a critical life decision to make during the summer of 2011.

The then-63-year-old Minor League manager, having spent the better part of the previous four decades on and around the baseball diamond, received news that his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had only a few months to live.

Gamboa, who was managing the Angels’ Class-A Advanced affiliate in Inland Empire, Calif., at the time, was still a full three months away from season’s end.

The coaching staff for the 2014 Brooklyn Cyclones has been announced and will feature all-new faces for the first time since 2011. Tom Gamboa, who has over four decades of experience in professional baseball, will serve as the manager, while Tom Signore joins the team as the pitching coach. Benny Distefano, who served as the Cyclones hitting coach in 2010, will return to the team in the same role for the 2014 campaign. 

The Brooklyn Cyclones will host the 10th annual New York-Penn League All-Star Game this coming summer. MCU Park, which hosted the first-ever New York-Penn League All-Star Game in 2005, will once again welcome the best the league has to offer on Tuesday, Aug. 19th.

Though he was born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio and led a nomadic existence as a Major League-affiliated coach and manager for better than four decades, Rich Donnelly was proud to call Brooklyn his home for the past three years.

Sadly, Donnelly's run as the Cyclones' longest-tenured manager officially ended Thursday when the 67-year-old baseball sage accepted the Triple-A manager's post at Tacoma in the Seattle Mariners' organization.

"We wish him well," Cyclones general manager Steve Cohen told the Eagle on Thursday morning.

The Cyclones took a long, hard road to first place in the McNamara Division this past month, only to find a trap door waiting for them at the top of the standings.

A brutal four-game losing streak, lowlighted by a gutwrenching two-game home sweep at hands of newly crowned McNamara champion Aberdeen, dropped Brooklyn out of contention, and out of the postseason for the first time in four years.

Though he was selected, John Gant didn't get a chance to make an appearance in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game earlier this month.

The 21-year-old right-hander, however, shined brightest on the biggest stage when the Brooklyn Cyclones need him most Wednesday night at MCU Park.

Gant tossed just the fourth complete game in Cyclones history, spinning a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Tri-City that thrust Brooklyn into sole possession of first place for the first time this season before a crowd of 4,820 on Coney Island.

It was all right there in front of them. And then it was gone.

With news circulating throughout the crowd of 6,716 at MCU Park Tuesday night that first-place Aberdeen had suffered an 8-2 loss at Lowell, LJ Mazzilli stood at the plate with an opportunity to finally push the Brooklyn Cyclones into sole possession of first place for the first time this season.

Mazzilli, Brooklyn's most consistent everyday player, had blasted a solo homer, his fourth of the year, in the bottom of the eighth inning to deadlock the contest at 3-3.

There's one thing we all know for sure about a Rich Donnelly-led team: It always finishes extremely strong.

For the third straight summer, the Brooklyn Cyclones are playing their best baseball of the season down the stretch, putting the heat on first-place Aberdeen in the tight battle for McNamara Division supremacy and the race for a third consecutive playoff berth under Donnelly.

Two steps forward, one step back might not be good enough for the Cyclones if they hope to capture a third straight postseason berth this summer.

With the regular-season slate down to a mere 14 games, Brooklyn can ill-afford to give away late leads or lose to teams that no longer have a realistic chance of qualifying for the postseason.

The Baby Bums did both Wednesday night at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, squandering a two-run lead in an eventual 5-3 loss to the last-place Staten Island Yankees before a crowd of 4,701.

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