'Clones Fall to Hot Yankees, 4-2
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, September 2, 2007

BROOKLYN, NY - Finding themselves only two and a half games ahead of the Yankees with only a week left in the season before tonight’s game, the Cyclones needed a win over their division rivals to get back on track after splitting a two-game series with the Aberdeen Ironbirds. However, after amassing only seven hits and getting a mediocre performance from their staff, the Mets Single-A affiliate lost 4-2 to Staten Island and now find themselves only a game and a half ahead for the lead in the McNamara division.

With a double header against the Yankees tomorrow and the Cyclones needing only three more wins to clinch the division, the next stretch of games will play a crucial role in how the team’s season turns out.

Brooklyn however, doesn’t need to be reminded of what’s at stake.

“We’re still a game and a half up,” said ‘Clones designated hitter Micah Schilling. “We just have to take a shower and get some rest and come back hard tomorrow. I’m not worried at all.”

Giving up three hits and a run in his first inning of work today, Brooklyn starter Dillon Gee [3-1, 2.41 ERA] wasn’t his usual dominant self, but somehow managed to give up only two runs in five innings pitched. Failing to get the leadoff hitter out in the first four innings he pitched, the 2007 21st round pick wouldn’t be able to lead the ‘Clones to victory.

“I was having a tough time out there today,” said Gee. “I didn’t have my best stuff and I felt a lot worse than my numbers indicated.”

Shaking off new Cyclones catcher Cesar Cordido numerous times in the first few innings of play, the usually quick-moving Gee looked like he was laboring on the mound and obviously wasn’t comfortable. Continuing to get into trouble in the third, Gee gave up another run courtesy of an Austin Krum RBI single that stretched the Yankees lead to 2-0.

“We made a lot of mistakes tonight and it cost us the game,” said Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo. “This team hits really well and we gave them an opportunity to run away with a win tonight and they did.”

While Gee was struggling, Yankees starter Ryan Pope [2-0 1.96 ERA] was stellar through the early stages of the game, keeping Brooklyn scoreless through 3.1 innings until a homer from Schilling, his first of the year, got the Mets Single-A affiliate on the score board and cut Staten Island’s lead to 2-1. The next hitter, J.R. Voyles, would then double, but Pope managed to retire both Lucas Duda and Brandon Kawal to keep Staten Island ahead by a run.

However, Pope continued to struggle in the fifth, giving up back to back doubles to Raul Reyes and Jake Eigsti, that tied the game at 2-2. With the Cyclones making an effort to get back in the game, Steve Cheney came out of the Brooklyn pen in the top of sixth and would allow a triple to D.J. Hollingsworth and would then throw a wild pitch to the next hitter, Justin Snyder, that would bring home Hollingsworth and put the Yankees back up 3-2. Cheney continued to run into trouble in the seventh, giving up another run on an Austin Krum RBI single that gave Staten Island their two-run league back at 4-2 and put the game away for good.

“I don’t know what was wrong with him today,” Alfonzo said of Cheney. “He didn’t have it.”

With three more innings left to make a comeback, a combination of Ryan Zink, Jacinto Gonnell and Jonathan Ortiz would finish the Mets Single-A affiliate off after Pope left the game with the lead, keeping the ‘Clones scoreless the rest of the way and inducing a 4-2 Brooklyn loss.

Now only a game and a half ahead of the Yankees, the Cyclones know that if they don’t play their cards right, they may find themselves fighting for a wildcard spot rather than the McNamara division championship. Nevertheless, they feel they control their own destiny and aren’t ready to give up.

“Today was a crushing loss,” said Gee. “But we’ve never been a team to get down after a loss like this and I expect us to come back strong and play well tomorrow.”