Fans coming to Coney Island are seeing a rejuvenated Cyclones team that is competing for first place in the South Atlantic League’s North Division. With recent wins against the Hudson Valley Renegades and the Aberdeen Iron Birds, the Cyclones have started off the second half in a four-way tie for first.
Some of the players responsible for the team’s resurgence are a group of “grinders” who have performed on a daily basis but have also recently played above their heads.
Joe Suozzi continues to inspire the team on and off the field with his “Charlie Hustle” routine. Besides getting late-inning hits to put the team ahead, he showed his hidden baserunning talents in Hudson Valley when he scored from first on an errant pickoff attempt for the Cyclones’ only run of the game.
Righthanded reliever Justin Courtney, who pitched 12 scoreless innings in his last eight games, is lighting up the radar gun at 96 MPH and throwing a mixture of pitches with his “all arms and legs” delivery. “I’m really enjoying it,” said the 6-foot-4 Maine resident, who was released by the L.A. Angels last season. “I’m glad the Mets gave me a chance to show what I can do.”
Left-fielder Matt Rudick, known more for his defense, is showing latent power. In the recent win over Aberdeen, the San Diego native led off the game with a 367-foot homer to right field, his second bomb of the year. “Well the weather’s warming up like San Diego,” he said, “and I’m just getting more comfortable out there.”
Nic Gaddis, a third baseman and catcher, is tearing it up at the plate since returning from the injured list. Gaddis hit his fifth homer in the Aberdeen game – a majestic shot to center. “It was good,” he said, “but not one of my best!”