2006-08-04 / Sports

Cyclones Rocket To First Place

By Elio Velez


It's easy to draw a parallel to the hot weather baking the sidewalks of New York and the scalding play of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the winners of 10 straight ballgames and tied for first place with the Staten Island Yankees in the McNamara Division of the New York Penn League.

But this story is all about the Cyclones' play of late and not the hot weather. They've completed a 180 degree turnaround of fortunes as a smoking offense has finally complemented the strong pitching that has occurred all season.

Last month, the Cyclones were entrenched at the bottom of the standings, staring up at the teams ahead of them in the division.

With their 10 game winning streak, the Cyclones have now raised their record to 25-15 and are in the midst of a pennant race.

In the last six wins the Cyclones won before presstime, they averaged six runs a game in those contests. Dustin Martin, the catalyst and the most consistent player in the lineup, has excelled at the #3 spot in the batting order, leading the team in average with .313 and also in hits and RBI. Jonathan Schemmel, who is batting .a sharp .284 and shortstop Luis Rivera with a .286 average has contributed as the Cyclones swept series against Staten Island, Aberdeen, Mahoning Valley and Oneonta.

The pitching, which has been impressive this season was highlighted by righthanded starter Nelson Portillo, who was named the NYPL Pitcher of the Week.Portillo allowed only one run in 12 innings of work as he won games against Mahoning Valley and Aberdeen to become the first Brooklyn player to be honored with a league award this season.

The Cyclone start a four game homestand tonight against the Tri-City Valleycats at 7:10 p.m. and conclude with a solo game against the Staten Island Yankees on Tuesday night.

Joseph Smith, the third round pick in the 2006 draft of the New York Mets, proved to be too successful in his professional debut with the Cyclones that the major league club promoted the closer to Double AA at Binghamton this past week.

The term "lights out" may have been the apropos term for the righthander who was dominant as he pitched to an 0.45 ERA, struck out 28 batters in 20 innings, nine saves and held opposing batters to an .141 average. After allowing a run in his first appearance on June 21, he would not give up a run for one month until July 28 against Staten Island.

"I'm excited," Smith, a native of Cincinnati Ohio said. "I loved playing in the city, but I feel like I'm ready." he added with a smile, "Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be back playing in New York again."

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