After three months of extended spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, this season’s edition of the 2015 Cyclones were glad to come north to Brooklyn to begin the New York Penn League season and to play finally in front of a big crowd.
“Instead of practicing in the morning and playing a game in the afternoon in the Florida heat, we’re now under the lights playing cooler evening baseball with a few thousand fans in the seats,” said manager Tom Gamboa.
The returning second year Cyclone manager went on to explain that after such a long period of training, this would be the proving ground to see if these young first and second year players could now perform in front of “a big crowd under the lights.”
Beginning the season on Friday evening, June 19 in Staten Island, the Cyclones got their opportunity to perform in front of that “big crowd” of 7,483 against the rival Yankees as Long Island pitcher Tyler Badamo took the mound for the season opener.
Badamo, who earned the start by standing out in extended spring training, pitched six innings, striking out five batters, and giving up two hits and two runs. Although not the winning pitcher in this game, Badamo — who had once played in a collegiate series in Staten Island — still stated that he had a strong performance for his Penn League opener saying, “I felt I pitched a strong game and really felt good out there tonight.”
When it seemed like the Cyclones had the momentum to break a 2-2 tie going into the ninth inning, the energy simply disappeared as Brooklyn left men on base multiple times, taking the game into extra innings.
Coming to the plate in the top of the 12th with two out, Michael Bernal sliced a single to the left center field gap scoring Enmanuel Zabala for the winning run. To hold the 3-2 lead, the third and final Cyclone reliever, Gaither Bumgardner came in from the bullpen to retire all three final Yankee batters for the Cyclones’ first 2015 win.
Commenting on the opening day win, Cyclone Manager Gamboa stated, “Badamo set a great tone for all three relievers behind him. They picked up on his tone and were very aggressive pitching ahead of the count. They were almost intimidating last night. We had three walks and 11 strikeouts [in a 12-inning game], which is a good ratio, until we finally found a way to score.”
The opening win over Staten Island gives the Cyclones a 9-2 lead for season opener victories as the Brooklyn club begins its 15th anniversary year as a New York Met Short Season-A affiliate.
In the subsequent game on June 20, the Yankees rallied back 8-3 to spoil Brooklyn’s home opener as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams escorted the family of recently slain NYPD Detective Wenjian Liu to the mound for a ceremonial first pitch before the game.
In the final game of the season’s opening series, the Cyclones took the three-game series by beating the Yankees 6-4 in Staten Island.