STATEN ISLAND, NY – Momentum was riding high for the Staten Island Yankees with two road series victories in Aberdeen and State College prior to the New York-Penn League All-Star break. The season resumed on Wednesday at home against the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Baby Bombers received production from an unlikely source as Yancarlos Baez singled home the game-winning run in a 4-3 victory.
The Baby Bombers returned to action after the All-Star break with Freicer Perez taking the mound in the first game of the series against their crosstown rivals. Entering play with a .219 team batting average, the Cyclones needed to manufacture runs by any means and took advantage of an Angel Aguilar error in the second inning and a Colby Woodmansee sacrifice fly in the third to take a 2-0 lead.
Perez, struggled with his command at times, allowing four walks in 4.2 innings, but minimized hard contact and peaked at 97 miles per hour with his fastball, giving up two hits and two runs (one earned) in a no-decision. “I thought he threw the ball well coming off his last start. He just got deep in a lot of counts and basically ran out of pitches,” Staten Island Yankees manager Dave Bialas said.
Merandy Gonzalez opposed Perez for Brooklyn and was nearly untouchable on the mound. Making his eleventh start of the season, Gonzalez struck out seven, allowing three hits and one run (none earned) in five innings of work. Staten Island did not pose much of a threat against him except in the third inning when Baez scored a run on a wild pitch after reaching base to open the frame on a dropped third strike.
Gonzalez collected four of his seven punchouts in the third inning and gave way to Austin McGeorge in the sixth, who allowed Staten Island to even the score when Dom Thompson-Williams scored on the second wild pitch of the evening. Thompson-Williams, a 5th round draft pick by the Yankees out of South Carolina, scored two of Staten Island’s four runs and stole a base as he begins to show signs of life at the plate after batting just .231 in his first 46 games.
“It comes down to getting some baserunners in the lineup,” Thompson-Williams said. “We have a good hitters in our lineup and the key is to put pressure on the opposing team. If you get on base, that is huge in this league. We take advantage of the opportunities we are given.”
Thompson-Williams started another rally in the eighth inning after reaching base on a throwing error from Blake Tiberi. Nick Solak collected his third single of the night to move Thompson-Williams to third and Drew Bridges hit a sacrifice fly right field to plate him for the go-ahead run.
“It was a fun game coming off getting swept in Brooklyn last month. They are a tough team with a good pitching staff and you really have to grind out at-bats. It is a fun game and we didn’t stop battling. Dom Thompson-Williams was putting the ball in play and running all over the basepaths and ignited the offense,” Solak said.
Down to their last out in the ninth inning, the Cyclones mounted a rally and extended the game. Darryl Knight singled with two outs and Gene Cone singled to center to even the score against David Sosebee. Like their first two meetings this season it appeared as though the game would reach extra innings, but the Baby Bombers completed a two-out rally of their own with Baez, batting .029 entering the at-bat, singling home Aguilar for the victory.
“It was a great victory for us. These guys battled all the way through. They are inspired and playing hard. Our pitches like Kamplain, Harvey, and our bullpen as a whole set us up for the win. Every series this team has done a heck of a job,” Bialas said.
Prior to Wednesday’s victory, the Yankees promoted pitcher Nick Green to Low-A Charleston after two starts with Staten Island since coming over in the midseason trade for Carlos Beltran. Staten Island moves into first place in the McNamara Division with the victory and will send Austin DeCarr to the month on Thursday against Mets’ first rounder Justin Dunn.