Cyclones are in second place after winning two out of three

John Gant helped to lead the Cyclones to a 2-1 victory on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

John Gant helped to lead the Cyclones to a 2-1 victory on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

The Brooklyn Cyclones took two out of three games against the State College Spikes in Coney Island over the weekend and have now pulled to just one game out of first place with a 26-26 record in the McNamara division as they head into the All-Star break.

FRIDAY (4-1 loss to State College)

It was Star Wars night at MCU Park on Friday, but the Spikes’ imperial force was too strong for the Cyclones as they fell behind early and could not mount a comeback in a 4-1 loss with ace Miller Diaz on the mound.

Diaz had been on a role entering the game. In his previous five starts he threw at least five innings, never allowed more than two earned runs, and always struck out at least seven batters. The rain messed with him during this game though as he sat through two delays and was lifted in the middle of the second inning after a walk, a hit by pitch, and two wild pitches setup the start of a two run inning for the Spikes.

The Spikes then struck against relief pitcher Paul Paez in the fourth inning, but this time it was the bats and not the rain as a double, a triple, and a single helped turn a 2-0 lead into a 4-0 lead.

The Cyclones, meanwhile, were lifeless at the plate. They never got more than one runner on and hit into two double plays before they finally scored a run in the seventh inning. L.J. Mazzilli lead that inning off with a double before he eventually scored on a sac fly by Matt Oberste to make it 4-1. They might have had a chance at more in the eighth, but catcher Colton Plaia was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

SATURDAY (2-1 victory over State College)

It was a pitcher’s pitcher’s duel on Saturday with John Gant coming out ahead against the Spikes thanks to six innings of one-run ball during a slim 2-1 victory at MCU Park.

The Cyclones scored first thanks to a Patrick Biondi double and L.J. Mazzilli sac fly in the first inning to make it 1-0. It was 2-0 after the 2012 first round pick Gavin Cecchini drove in Ismael Tijerina, who had reached on a hit by pitch.

That would be all the offense they would get, but luckily the Spikes only managed one run on a RBI single by Carson Kelley with two on and two out in the sixth. Gant left after that having allowed just the one run on two hits and three walks including seven strikeouts. Relievers John Mincone and Johnny Magliozzi combined to pitch three perfect innings to close out the game.

SUNDAY (9-2 victory over State College)

After they scored just three runs during the first two games in the series, the Cyclones busted out the lumber in the rubber match to overpower the Spikes during a 9-2 victory.

State College actually scored first in this one too, on a bunt, when left fielder Jonathan Clark and first baseman Alex Sanchez each made throwing errors during an ugly play. The bats came to the rescue though as Edward Rohan lead off with a double followed by another one by Anthony Chavez to make it 1-1. After that a passed ball, a RBI ground-out, a RBI single by L.J. Mazzilli, and another RBI ground-out by James Roche made it 4-1.

The Cyclones increased the lead to 6-1 by the fifth inning as they added a run in each the fourth and fifth innings to break the game open. They made it a no doubter in the eighth when Alex Sanchez hit a two-run home run to make it 9-2.

This was all possible as Carlos Valdez started and held the Spikes to just one run over six innings on five hits and eight strikeouts. David Wynn allowed one run in relief with Cristian Chivilli and Juan Urbina each tossing a scoreless inning to close out the easy win.

• Remember when Gavin Cecchini was struggling? Neither do I. His slump only feels like a long time ago thanks to an 11-game hitting streak which has seen him hit .383/.408/.468 over that span. He kept it going in a big way over the weekend by going 5-for-13 including big RBI-hits in each of the Cyclones’ two wins.

• Mazzilli has kept his good season going with a 4-for-5 night on Sunday that has upped his average to .303/.350/.383 on the season.

• Patrick Biondi has also kept up his steady bat by extending his hit streak to six games after a 3-for-11 weekend series. This year’s ninth round draft pick has also shown great patience at the plate this season.

• Brooklyn’s top four starting pitchers, Robert Gsellman, John Gant, Carlos Valdez, and Miller Diaz all have an ERA below 3.00 with Gsellman leading the pack at 2.06.

• The Cyclones also have five relievers who have thrown at least 10 innings and have ERAs under 2.00 — Akeel Morris, Cristian Chivilli, John Mincone, David Wynn, and Tim Peterson.

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