Cyclones pull ahead into sole possession of wild-card lead

Michael Conforto, the New York Mets 1st round draft pick

Michael Conforto continues to power the Brooklyn Cyclones as he scored two runs on Thursday to help them into first place in the wild-card race. Photo by Rob Abruzzese.

If the New York-Penn League’s season ended today, the Brooklyn Cyclones would be in the playoffs after they beat Mahoning Valley 4-0 on the road Thursday night while the Connecticut Tigers dropped their third in a row to break up the wild-card tie.

This win was all on Martires Arias, who tossed six shutout innings on two hits, three walks and six strikeouts, and relievers Brad Wieck, two innings, no hits and five strikeouts and Mike Hepple, who shutdown the ninth. Only two Scrappers even made it as far as second base, one was on an error, and neither even threatened to score.

Meanwhile, the Cyclones’ offense was mostly quiet all night. They scored their first run in the fourth inning when Michael Conforto doubled to leadoff the inning and then scored when Jhoan Urena singled to center. They didn’t score again until the eighth inning when they scored three runs on singles by John Mora, Amed Rosario and Conforto, a sac fly by Urena and an RBI-single by Tomas Nido.

This was a big win and one that showed off the changes the team has made since July when they looked all but done. First of all, Conforto has, and continues to, make a huge difference in the lineup. His bat is one of the best in the entire league. Then there were promotions from the rookie-league including Mora and Arias, Thursday night’s starter. The added depth seems to have made guys like Amed Rosario, Tyler Moore and Michael Bernal a little bit better. and Arias has bolstered an already strong pitching staff.

This is a lot of baseball left to play, though, with 23 games left to play. There are also six teams easily within striking distance including the Tigers, who are one game back, the Staten Island Yankees, three games back, the Auburn Doubledays and Lowell Spinners, who are 3.5 games back, and the Batavia Muckdogs and Williamsport Crosscutters could even get involved, and are just four games out.

The Cyclones, for now, are in the drivers seat and control their destiny. Can they make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011?

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