The Brooklyn Cyclones had to get red-hot down the stretch just to win the second-half South Atlantic League North Division crown.
They kept blistering their way through their first playoff opponent Tuesday night at Coney Island’s Maimonides Park.
Reigning SAL Pitcher of the Week Luis Moreno tossed six innings of five-hit ball with seven strikeouts and Jose Peroza went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs as the Baby Bums smoked visiting Aberdeen, 8-1, in front of 1,353 satisfied customers along Surf Avenue.
Moreno (1-0), who led all Mets minor league pitchers with a 2.84 and rolled into the postseason on a three-start winning streak, yielded a home run to Jud Fabian in the second inning and only one walk to give Brooklyn a 1-0 lead in this best-of- three North Division championship series.
The 6-foot-2 native of the Dominican Republic didn’t need much offensive help, but the Cy- clones gave him plenty right from the start.
Brooklyn put up single runs in each of the first three frames, including a solo blast from designated hitter Joe Suozzi.
Matt Rudick and Peroza, who batted .336 over the final 58 regular-season contests, went deep in the fifth as the ‘Clones extended their advantage to 6-1.
Relievers Nolan Clenney and Daison Acosta combined for three scoreless frames to close out the IronBirds, who were unable to break through against the pitching staff that allowed the second-fewest runs (510) in the minors this season.
Aberdeen starter Jean Pinto (0-1) was reached for three runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts over four innings.
Stanley Consuegra also drove in a run for Brooklyn, which will get two shots to close this series out in Aberdeen, beginning with Game 2 Thursday night at Leidos Field in Maryland.
Brooklyn, which is bidding for its first play-off series win since being elevated to High-A status last summer, split the New York-Penn League title in 2001 and won the outright crown in 2019.
Game 3, if necessary, will be in Aberdeen on Friday night.
The winner of this series will advance to the best-of-three series vs. the South Division champion beginning Sunday.
In local college sports news, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer club got a late goal from Fort Hamilton High School alum and borough native Khaled Abdella to end a season-high three- match winless streak Tuesday afternoon.
Abdella tallied in the 87th minute to give the Terriers a 2-1 victory over Lafayette at Brooklyn Bridge Park to stop SFC’s 0-2-1 skid.
Carbone Corrado had a first-half goal and Mohammed Shour and Sokol Ymeraj had assists for SFC (2-3-1), which had not emerged victorious since a 3-0 blanking of LaSalle here on Aug.
29. Winners of six of the last 10 Northeast Conference titles, the Terriers, will resume the non-conference portion of their schedule at BBP on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
SFC will kick off the NEC portion of its slate vs. visiting Howard on Sept. 25.