After taking the first three games of the season from Staten Island, the Cyclones were roughed up in an 8-1 loss to the Yankees for their first loss. After several walks and passed balls led to a seven-run seventh inning, the Cyclones played their first version of “Alley Ball” this season, according to Manager Rich Donnelly.
Despite their early dominance in the opening series, the Cyclones were “humbled” by an opportunistic Yankees team that seized on Brooklyn’s erratic play.
Putting the game into prospective, Donnelly stated, “There are those who play the game humble and those who are about to be humbled.”
For the Cyclones, who were ready for a sweep, Donnelly said an early dose of humility served his young team well, as it showed them what is still needed to win at this level. Despite the loss, Donnelly sees his young team still performing well amid their gaffes. In one instance, he cited 19-year-old shortstop Phil Evans’ recovery of a bobbled ball to complete a double play.
“Now that’s the sign of growth of a player to recover like that,” the skipper said.
Noting that he had not yet seen all his players “under the lights,” Donnelly stated that he was anxious to see what everyone could do in the team’s first road trip to Aberdeen. Managing to get some game time for the rest of his roster, Donnelly’s Cyclones took two out of three games from Cal Ripken’s Iron Birds. Two of the team’s infielders – shortstop Phil Evans (.310; 2 HRs) and first baseman Cole Frenzel, who is hitting a torrid .409 for third-best in the New York Penn League — have surged offensively on the road.
Regarding Frenzel, Donnelly said he was not surprised with results given the amount of time the first baseman spent with Hitting Coach Bobby Malek in the hitting cage.
“Frenzel spends more time in the cage than Gunter Gable Williams,” Donnelly quipped, referencing the famous lion tamer.
In Evans’ case, Donnelly suggested that he may be seeing the emergence of a possible team leader in the 19-year-old.
“I feel really confident out there,” said Evans, who had just raised his batting average over .300. “I’m trying to stay sharp in the field and I’ve shortened my swing this season.”
Returning home after the Aberdeen road trip, the Cyclones met the Hudson Valley Renegades, who entered the series with an identical record of 5-2, good for first place in the McNamara Division.
In what turned out to be another pitching gem for RHP Luis Mateo, the second-year Dominican pitcher struck out seven Renegades over six innings, giving up just two hits with one walk for a 3-0 Brooklyn win. Remarkably, this last outing was practically a carbon copy of Mateo’s first win of the season at Staten Island, in which he went 5.2 innings, striking out nine Yankees, while also giving up two hits along with one walk for a 4-1 win.
“The pitching was excellent tonight,” Donnelly said, praising his budding ace, who pitched last year in the Dominican Summer League. “Mateo’s a top prospect and that’s what he’s been doing all spring. He can throw strikes and has the ability to compose himself on the mound to get out of jams. That’s what we look for.”
With the 3-0 win over Hudson Valley, the Cyclones have captured first place by one full game with a record of 6-2 over the second-place Renegades who fell to 5-3 record after the first full week of play in the New York Penn League in the four-team McNamara Division.
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