2008-09-05 / Sports

Cyclones Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Late Season Surge

By Elio Velez

Brad Holt. Photo By Ron Hatcher Brad Holt. Photo By Ron Hatcher By the beginning of August, the Brooklyn Cyclones had struggled with injuries and lack of production from their offense that any hope to make the playoffs was sadly looking to be a pipe dream.

Well, how things have changed.

As of presstime on Wednesday afternoon, the Brooklyn Cyclones have won 9 of their last 10 games to surge to first place in the N.Y. Penn League wildcard race over rivals Jamestown. The Cyclones will have their final two games of the regular season against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, which happens tonight at 7 p.m. and on Saturday at 6 p.m. At 43-29, the Cyclones have a slim half-game lead on the Jamestown Jammers of the Pinckney Division.

If the Cyclones win their remaining games, they will qualify for the playoffs and face off against the Staten Island Yankees in the first round on Monday.

The Cyclones' sole playoff chance is focusing is on the wild card as the division leading Yankees are certain to clinch the division as they are three games ahead of the cross-borough rivals.

August was a very good month for the Cyclones as their 20-7 record lifted what was once a mediocre season for manager Edgar Alfonzo's young charges.

Their pitching has been key in the resurgence as the Cyclones continue to lead the Penn League in ERA and in strikeouts. Right-handed pitchers Bead Holt (5-3, 1.87 ERA), Scott Shaw (6-3, 2.70 ERA) and LHP Jimmy Johnson (5-0, 1.08 ERA) have led the charge.

While their team batting average has been at time pedestrian, the Cyclones continue to get big hits from 2008 first round picks Ike Davis and Sean Ratliff.

Both have struggled in their adjustment to professional baseball but in August, Ratliffe led the team in home runs and RBI. Davis had a 10-game hitting streak and raised his average above the Mendoza line to .245.

OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been the most consistent hitter in the Cyclones lineup as he leads in virtually every individual batting category.

17-year old Wilmer Flores has been outstanding at shortstop. The 6-3 phenom is hitting .348 in 23 at-bats and has shown plenty of range at shortstop despite his long frame. He is the seventh player to start at shortstop this season for the Cyclones.

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