By Jerry Del Priore
Heading into its Tuesday night’s tilt against the Staten Island Yankees (30-27), the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets, 32-24) held a two-game lead for the New York-Penn League (NYPL) Wild Card.
But the Yankees’ Jake Sanford launched a two-run dinger that sailed over the right field wall to give the Baby Bombers a 7-5, 11-inning victory Tuesday night at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George while putting a momentary crimp in the Cyclones’ playoff push.
Staten Island struck first, as infielder Andres Chaparro blooped a single to left field for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Mitchell Robinson followed with a ground-rule double to extend Staten Island’s advantage to 2-0.
Brooklyn overtook the lead, 3-2, however, on second baseman Luke Ritter’s estimated 459-foot three-run blast to left field in the top of the second. It was the Cyclones’ longest homer of the season.
But the Yankees knotted the score at 3-3 on designated hitter Josh Smith’s RBI single to left field in the bottom of the frame. A throwing error on Brooklyn shortstop Wilmer Reyes put Staten Island up, 4-3.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, reliever Bryan Blaton uncorked a wild pitch that scored Yoel Romero, who tripled to start the inning, to draw the Cyclones even at 4-4 in the top sixth inning.
Brooklyn broke the tie when outfielder Antonie Duplantis laced a two-out RBI single to right field for the 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh.
However, Staten Island second baseman Ezequiel Duran smacked a home run, his eleventh of the season, to retie the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the frame.
The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the eight, putting runners at second and third with no outs. But Cyclone right-handed pitcher Josh Hejka was able to wiggle his way out of trouble.
In for Hejka with two outs, Matt Mullenbach stranded a runner at third to preserve the tie in the bottom of the ninth.
Brooklyn failed to score after Duplantis — who was placed on second to start the top of the tenth inning, per minor league rule — moved to third on a throwing error with no outs.
Much to Staten Island’s dismay, Mullenback left the bases loaded after infielder Matt Pita grounded out to Ritter to end the bottom of the tenth.
In the top of the eleventh, the Cyclones’ Raul Beracierta grounded into a double play to keep the team from surging ahead.
But Jake Sanford ended the contest with a two-run shot to right field to send Brooklyn home with a tough defeat.
Justin Wilson (1-3) earned his first win of the campaign for the Yankees, while Mullenback (1-2) took the defeat for the Cyclones.
With the loss, Brooklyn falls to 2.5 games behind the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa) in the McNamara Division but stay in the Wild Card lead by a game over the West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburg).