Cyclones go down swinging to end season

Returning home to Brooklyn with a 6-6 record after a tough two-week road trip to Ashville and Greenville, N.C., the Cyclones started their final six-game home stand against the last-place Wilmington Blue Rocks. After finishing last in their division for the first half of the season, the Cyclones led the South Atlantic North for the second half until they found themselves in a tie with the Jersey Shore Blue Claws for first place as they entered the last week of the regular season.

Musing over his team’s position to begin the final home stand, Cyclones manager Chris Newell said, “At the beginning of the season, if I was offered a best-case scenario of a tie for first place in the second half of the season with a chance to make the playoffs with six games to go would I take it? The answer is you better believe I would.”

Now faced with a tie for first place, the Cyclones would have to win their division to advance to the playoffs since the Blue Claws held a 15-11 head-to-head regular season game advantage over Brooklyn should both teams finish in a tie. 

After promoting a host of front-line starting pitching prospects to Double-A Binghamton like Christian Scott, Tyler Stuart and Blade Tidwell, along with relievers Dylan Tebrake and Paul Gervase, call-ups from St. Lucie now had a chance to help Brooklyn’s playoff push. Even the Mets’ 2022 first-round draft pick, catcher Kevin Parada, and the hot-hitting Rhylan Thomas were also sent up to the Southern Tier.

“It’s about the next man standing,” said Newell about his young players coming up to High-A to be a part of a team in a playoff hunt. “This is what they play for, to learn how to perform in a pressure situation.”

So far players like St. Lucie call-up Jett Williams and Verlander trade pieces Jacob Reimer and Ryan Clifford have led the Cyclones’ second-half surge with their hitting, but that all came to a halt on the last day of the season. 

Ahead of Jersey Shore by one full game, the Cyclones fell victim to a late-inning 6-2 comeback by the Wilmington Blue Rocks, while the Jersey Shore Blue Claws beat the Hudson Valley Renegades 10-9 in 11 innings to win the second half of the South Atlantic League’s North Division to advance to the playoffs.

“All season long I’ve been telling the guys to seize the moment since it may not come around again,” said Newell. “They showed the kind of team they were, fighting down to the very last game of the season.”

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