Pitching continues to be key for Cyclones

After splitting a six-game series in Lakewood, the Cyclones returned home to Coney Island to finally reach .500 at 8-8 with a 5-0 win over the 11-5 Wilmington Blue Rocks.  After a no-decision and a loss, Nolan McLean took the mound on a chilly and wind-blown evening to start a six-game series against the team that had shutout (0-3) the Cyclones to start the season. This evening the tables were turned on the Blue Rocks as the Mets’ third round 2023 draft pick out of Oklahoma State University set a very fast pace by throwing quickly off the hill to earn his first professional win. 

In five scoreless innings McLean struck out six batters and gave up two hits and one walk as he reached his pitching limit with the Cyclones leading 3-0. The evening’s sterling combined pitching performance continued as Dakota Hawkins threw the next three scoreless and hitless innings. Joey Lancellotti then wrapped up the ninth inning with one more strikeout for the Cyclones’ 5-0 opening series win.

Incidentally, McLean is one of baseball’s rare two-way players, a “TWP” who both pitches and plays DH and sometimes a field position. In fact, McLean happens to be one the Cyclones’ leading hitters as he’s gone 7-for-20 (.350) with six runs scored, four doubles, two home runs and four RBIs to start the season.  

When asked what accounted for his successful five innings, McLean said, “The ball got away from me last week. Tonight I was throwing up the strike zone.”

Back in his OSU playing days, McLean played the outfield and would pitch out of the bullpen several days a week, allowing him to be a “TWP.”  Now as a starting pitcher, McLean said, “I’m trying to build a routine and figure out what works best for me. My goal is to increase my pitch count and figure out what my body can handle.”

 “McLean was very effective tonight, especially with that late-breaking fastball,” said Cyclones radio broadcaster Justin Rocke. “He routinely was topping at 96 mph.”

From the very first inning McLean set a really fast pace as he set up to throw the next pitch after getting the ball back from the catcher. Grateful for the fast pace on the chilly evening, Rocke said, “He and the rest of the pitchers set a quick pace and got us out of here in two hours and five minutes!”  

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