BROOKLYN, NY – There are two sides to fortune. On one side, victory and dominance appears imminent with no end in sight. On the opposite end, nothing goes right. Execution is a facsimile for agony and frustration. The bitter days seem enduring and desperation takes shape.
For the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island have been prominent and continuous during the first 45 games of the New York-Penn League. After consecutive victories in Staten Island, the Brooklyn Cyclones were on the cusp of reclaiming the McNamara Division against their bitter rivals, narrowing the gap to just one half game and poised to revert to their early dominance, while Staten Island looked to avoid a sweep.
After twelve innings and nearly four hours of baseball, the Baby Bombers defeat their bitter rivals from Brooklyn in a 10-7 thriller in MCU Park, to increase their division foe and stave off defeat.
Undaunted by threats of inclement weather, the Baby Bombers and Cyclones played without a hitch to open the night. Fresh off outscoring Staten Island a combined 9-1 in the first two meetings of the series, the Cyclones appeared ready to open the festivities, loading the bases in the first inning against pitcher Luis Cedeno, but a twin killing hit into by left fielder Hengelbert Rojas kept the game even and swung the fading momentum back into the Yankees favor.
Brandon Wagner, a sixth round pick by the Bombers in the 2015 draft, doubled home Junior Valera in the ensuing inning. Wagner, a native of Hopwell, New Jersey, homered twice in the preceding series against the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades, emerging as a tough out with a .381 on base percentage for the season.
After dropping 12 of their last 19 games, the Staten Island Yankees have consistently seen the pendulum swing against their favor during their midseason funk. The bottom of the second inning proved emblematic of the trend, with Cedeno surrendering three runs in the frame, two coming on an RBI double by the light-hitting, 16th round draft pick Zach Mathieu who entered play with a .164 batting average.
Cedeno struggled to get into any sort of groove, entering three separate jams allowing seven hits and three runs in less than five innings of work. Staked to a two run lead, Andrew Church, a second round pick by the New York in 2013 was on cruise control until a throwing error by former Miami third baseman David Thompson allowed Staten Island to eventually score two unearned runs in the fourth inning and regain their confidence.
After failing to score with two runners in scoring position in the fifth, the Cyclones unraveled in the following inning, when Kevin Cornelius, a little known 32nd round pick by the Yankees in 2013, said a prayer to Church with a towering two run home run soaring majestically over the wall to give Staten Island a 5-3 lead and end his night one batter later. Six runs were tacked on the final line for Church in six innings of work, who, like Cedeno was unable to establish any degree of consistency. All hope was not lost for Brooklyn when Mathieu mashed a game tying three run homer off Josh Roeder to tie the game at 7 apiece in the seventh, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“It is nice that Zach drove in some runs tonight for a change,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said. “But if you look over last 110 at bats, Zach had just eight RBI and the strikeouts are out of control. When you come into a game hitting a buck seventy-five, there is nowhere to go but up.”
Matheiu’s five RBI performance sent the clubs into extra innings. After a combined 5.1 innings of scoreless relief from Jose Mesa Jr. and Jonny Drzod, Staten Island broke through in a massive way in the twelfth inning against a tiring Craig Missigman, capitalizing on a Enmanuel Zabala error in center field.
“You know with Mesa, you are in for a rough go,” Gamboa said. “It is a defeating thing. It is hard to be optimistic when you look at the numbers. The numbers dictate they are not going to get anything. They have more depth than us.”
The fielding miscue opened the floodgates in a three run twelfth on an RBI single by Jhalan Jackson and an RBI double by Brandon Wagner provided Staten Island with a 10-7 stranglehold after three hours and fifty-three minutes of fervent baseball.
Momentum takes on a variety of hats depending on the situation. A roller coaster ride of emotion and passion sets it depending on the situation. An extra inning game filled with all forms of pitching, a blistering offense, and a depleted bench provides one. Fatigue and exhaustion from utilizing an entire roster takes a collective toll. One game can set the tone for tomorrow and beyond.
Though this day may appear to be a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of a season, it has the chance to serve as the difference between a postseason berth and a premature end to a season. With the victory, the Staten Island Yankees salvage the final game of a series where they were nearly left for dead, losing just one game off the pace and leading by 1.5 games in the McNamara Division, heading into a three game series against the league leading Williamsport Crosscutters.
In defeat, the Brooklyn Cyclones fall into a mix with six teams vying for one postseason bid as a wild card with time ticking fast. With just 36 games remaining for both clubs, tomorrow is arriving sooner than later, as the final three games between these bitter foes culminate a month of play in games and likely decide when the season comes to an end.