Voyles Blast Lifts ‘Clones Over Yanks
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BROOKLYN, NY - Cyclones backup infielder Jeff Voyles was probably the last person anyone in Keyspan Park would be responsible for the Mets Single-A affiliate's first win of the season.

However, after hitting a three-run bomb in the sixth inning, Voyles was the opening day hero, as the ‘Clones defeated the Staten Island Yankees in stunning fashion, 5-1, scoring all five runs in the game’s final three innings.

“It was a great feeling, it came at the perfect time too” said Voyles, in regards to his first professional home run. “I’ll never forget the sound the fans made when I hit it.”

Getting the opening day nod for the Cyclones was Joseph Leaper, the 36th round pick of the Mets in the 2006 draft who, in six starts, went 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA with the Gulf Coast Mets last season. Despite getting into some trouble in the top of the first, giving up a lead-off single to DJ Hollingsworth and walking Andres Perez, Leaper was saved by Cyclones third baseman Zach Lutz, who robbed baby bomber right fielder Dave Williams of a single down the third base line, keeping the game scoreless.

“That play saved the game and really got me pumped up,” said Leaper. “After that, I knew that whatever they got a hold of, my defense was going to be able to take care of it for me.”

Despite getting out of trouble in the first, the Cyclones right-hander continued to struggle through the second, leaving three runners in scoring position before settling down in third. To make matters worse for the Cyclones, they also had problems getting onboard against Yankees starter Gabriel Medina, as a Yasmil Bucce single would be the only offense the team could muster against him and would have to wait until a two-out, bases empty single by Ender Chavez in the sixth to get back on the base paths.

Giving up five hits and walking two in five innings, Leaper gave the ‘Clones every opportunity to come out victorious, but with Medina closing the door offensively on the Mets single-A affiliate, the boys from Brooklyn didn’t look like they had the firepower to pull out a win. In the sixth, reliever Edgar Ramirez replaced Leaper and gave up two hits, but thanks to an amazing outfield assist from Ender Chavez and a broken up steal attempt by Bucce, the game was still scoreless and the Cyclones still had an opportunity to come up with a win.

“I thought he was great,” said Alfonzo of Leaper’s performance. “At first, he was rushing out there, but as time went on, he really settled down. It was exactly what we needed in a tight ballgame like that.”

Just when it seemed that the Cyclones were never going to be able to get another hit off Medina, Nick Chigges came out of the Yankees bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and despite getting the first two outs of the inning in convincing fashion, he would give up singles to both Chavez and Will Vogl before Jeff Voyles [who replaced Lutz in the fourth inning, when Lutz injured his right foot while running out a ground ball in his second at-bat] launched a three-run homer over the left field wall to give Brooklyn a 3-0 lead.

“He [Chigges] threw him a high fastball and he was all over it” said Alfonzo. “Voyles has been playing well all through extended spring training and he’s a gamer; he can do so many different things out there. It was great.”

Brooklyn reliever Grady Hinchman came into the game in the eighth, replacing Ramirez and would strand a runner on third base, keeping the Yankees scoreless through eight. In the bottom of the eighth, the Cyclones managed to add two more runs to their lead, thanks to a two-run, bases loaded single off the bat of center fielder Raul Reyes, scoring Chavez and Vogl and giving themselves a 5-0 lead.

This year's eighth round draft pick Dan McDonald would pitch the last inning for the ‘Clones and didn’t have his best stuff, giving up a triple to Justin Snyder and throwing a wild pitch to the next hitter that allowed Snyder to score, cutting the Cyclones lead to four. With no one else warming up in the Brooklyn bullpen, the visibly flustered McDonald was forced to clean up his own mess and proceeded to then get the next three hitters out to end the game and give the Cyclones their first win of the season, effectively closing the door on the Yankees comeback opportunity.

Happy with the way his team managed to put it together after an absolutely miserable first five innings, Alfonzo believes the best is still yet to come and believes his team is much more potent offensively than most people think.

“We needed someone to come through in this game and we got it,” said Alfonzo. “This team has played together since extended spring training for the most part and I think they can score some runs by doing the small things. I have a lot of confidence in them.”

Notes: According to Alfonzo, Lutz is listed day-to-day with a grade-1 “twist” of his right foot and is scheduled to visit a doctor on Wednesday so a diagnosis can be made. According to Lutz, he injured the top of his foot and felt tightness in his lower-leg when running to first base after a ground out during his second at-bat and did not injure himself while making two diving catches earlier in the game.

“I had so much adrenaline during the game and I hated to have to come out,” said Lutz. “But I knew I to be careful [after he felt the tightness in his foot]and not do anything stupid.”