2003-09-05 / Sports

Cyclones Finish Strong To Enter Playoffs

By Elio Velez
Cyclones Finish Strong To Enter Playoffs By Elio Velez

Danny GarciaDanny Garcia

For all the issues with mediocre hitting, injuries and a streak of losing 8 of 9 games, the Brooklyn Cyclones forged ahead to win the McNamara Division and head to the playoffs. For the second time in three years, the Cyclones will play in the first round on the road in Oneonta on Friday, and then return for at least two possible home games on Saturday and Sunday.

This has not been a normal season for the Cyclones. Their pitching carried them to a lead for most of the year over Williamsport before suffering through a tough stretch in which their pitching fell apart. The rough stretch led the Cyclones to fall a game behind out of first place.

Last Thursday was the turning point of the season when Ian Bladergroen hit a two out RBI single in the ninth inning to snap a six game losing streak against Hudson Valley. Including a doubleheader win against Vermont, the Cyclones on six of their last seven ballgames to win the division over Williamsport

Bladergroen has been the most consistent hitter on the Cyclones offense this year. Before the additions of Aaron Baldiris and Jonathan Slack increased the offense, the 6’5, 210 pound first baseman carried the load for the Cyclones.

Chosen in Round 44 of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Mets, Bladergroen has increased his stock with the organization for hitting and his smooth fielding. He felt confident even as the team kept sliding during that bad stretch.

"We had a really great first half of the season and that’s expected, you’re going to lose games. We lost a couple of close ballgames late. We just go through stages like that and we have to ride them out and come back strong".

Bladergroen gave credit to first year manager Tim Teufel for calming the team down during the rough stretch. "Each guy had to slow the game down almost. It seemed everything was going so fast. We would slow the game down and it got a lot easier."

This is Bladergroen’s first season as a professional and he finished the year with batting average of .285 and 36 RBI, which led the team. "We’re all making the transition from metal to wood (bats). I didn’t try to come in and put the power numbers up. I’m trying to hit for average, basehits up the middle and I’m taking it game to game."

The Cyclones will face off against the Oneonta Tigers, who won the Stedler Division with a 45-30 record. Kody Kirkland, who hit .304 with 49 RBI, leads the Tigers.

Garcia Scores With Mets

Recently called by the New York Mets, second baseman Danny Garcia is the first former Brooklyn Cyclones player to make it to the major leagues. Garcia started at second for the Mets and had two hits in his first game against the Braves last Tuesday night.

Garcia spent two weeks with the Cyclones in the 2001 championship season and hit .321 with six RBI and 10 runs while providing great defense. "I have some great memories from my time there", Garcia said. "The Brooklyn fans were unreal. 8,000 people every night with baseball in their blood. It was really exciting, and I’ll never forget it."

Final Notes

The Cyclones says tickets are still available for the playoffs. Call 718-507-TIXX or go to the Keyspan Park.

Even with a spotty summer season due to rain, fog (The Cyclones- Expos game was postponed due to fog conditions which hovered around the field for two hours) and other conditions, the Cyclones drew 307,383 fans this season. That easily lead all teams in the NY Penn League this year with Aberdeen at second place with 234,143. Pitcher Robert Paulk finished with 15 saves and led the entire league.

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