BROOKLYN, NY – Following a night of joy and celebration from clinching a postseason berth in Tri-City, the Staten Island Yankees closed out the road portion of their schedule at MCU Park against the rival Brooklyn Cyclones in the first of a two-game series and asserted their dominance with a 5-0 shutout victory.
Jordan Humphreys, an 18th round draft pick by the New York Mets out of Hillsborough Community College, made his Cyclones’ debut replacing the recently traded Erik Manoah and fell behind in the second inning. With two outs, outfielder Nathan Mikolas popped a fly ball beyond the pitcher’s mound, dropping between three fielders.
Mikolas earned a gift double on the play and came around to score on an Angel Aguilar RBI single. Humphreys kept Staten Island off the scoreboard for the remainder of his outing, as he went six innings, allowing seven hits and struck out nine in a losing effort.
“I don’t think I have ever seen an infield double before,” Staten Island manager Dave Bialas said. “It is a communication thing. That’s what we work on, and every organization works on. Communication and priority drills. There was a mix-up in the coverage there on Brooklyn’s end.”
“I was just trying to contribute in any way I can,” Mikolas added. “I hit the ball high in the air, so I was just wanted to get on second base, and I was lucky that it fell where it did and was able to get in there successfully. Plays like that don’t normally happen.”
Coming off six-run defeat on Tuesday against Connecticut, Simon De la Rosa had a strong bounce back outing with one of his most complete performances of the season. De la Rosa utilized the bottom portion of the strike zone and avoided high-stress innings early.
Brooklyn’s first scoring chance came in the third inning with runners on second and third with nobody out, but De la Rosa recorded consecutive strikeouts and a fly out to escape without harm. In the fourth inning, he showed fortitude by stranding the bases loaded and frustrating Brooklyn hitters. In four scoreless innings, De la Rosa allowed three hits and struck out four to finish the regular season with a 3.38 ERA.
“He’s pitched well for all year,” Bialas said. “He’s been able to work his way out of jams with quality pitches. Today he went just four innings. We are limiting his amount of pitches because he is going to be pitching in the playoffs for us and we want to keep him fresh.”
Evan Rutckyj came on in relief in his first minor league rehab appearance with Staten Island and tossed two scoreless innings to record the victory. Rutckyi, a native of Windsor, Ontario, is currently rehabbing from bone spurs and bone chips in his elbow. The Trenton Thunder initially placed Rutckyj on the disabled list with elbow soreness on April 22, 2016, and returned to action in the Gulf Coast League in August.
“The last time I pitched on a mound was last Tuesday in the GCL,” Rutckyi said. “I did not try to do too much out there. I threw all of my pitches for strikes and tried to get ahead with my breaking ball. I had two bone chips and two bone spurs in my elbow. I was feeling it all spring training, and I couldn’t straighten my arm at one point.”
Clinging to a 1-0 lead for much of the afternoon, the Baby Bombers’ bats exploded in successive innings. Timmy Robinson clubbed his team-leading eighth home run of the season with two outs in the eighth inning off reliever Gregorix Estevez to double the lead. Staten Island took advantage of a Gabriel Feliz error in the ninth inning when Welfin Mateo emptied the bases with a three-run triple and secure Staten Island’s final victory on the road for the 2016 season.
“We had Welfrin Mateo up from Pulaski. This was his first game with us at Staten Island,” Bialas explained. He came through for us today and did a good job at Pulaski, and he gave us an opportunity to give Bridges a break and he a couple of hits a three RBIs. He did a good job.”
The Staten Island Yankees will close the 2016 New York-Penn League regular season at home with Jonathan Padilla on the mound facing Brooklyn’s Justin Dunn on Monday before opening the postseason on Wednesday. The Cyclones will attempt to avoid finishing below .500 for the second consecutive season and end their year on a high note.