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After losing 7-2 in Pennsylvania Tuesday, it was do-or-die for the Brooklyn Cyclones Wednesday night at Keyspan Park — and they died.
So it was the Williamsport Crosscutters — not the hometown Cyclones — who were spraying Champagne in celebration of an 11th-inning, 4-3 victory and a two-game sweep of the New York-Penn League championship series.
“Man, this feels so great!” said Cutters pitcher Kurt Shafer, who’s barely of drinking age, yet was the first man on the field with Champagne, kicking off a raucous celebration. Brooklyn fans initially booed — a bush-league move, many observers thought — but quickly cheered the new champs as they whooped it up on the infield and dumped a full cooler of ice water on their manager, Andy Stewart.
“I’ve seen this on TV all the time, but it’s never happened to me,” Stewart said. “I love it!”
Many of the Cyclones remained on the top step of the dugout, watching what a championship looks like.
“Sure, there’s a sour taste in all our mouths right now because everyone’s goal is to get a ring,” said first-baseman Ian Bladergroen, who played all but one of the Cyclones’ games this season only to fracture his thumb on a quirky play in the third inning. “But this was a great season and in a few days, we’re all going to remember that and feel better about what we accomplished.”
The game-winning rally started like so many Williamsport rallies before, with a single by Anthony Bocchino. The Brooklyn native — who had 80 members of his family in the crowd — had been ineffective in his three prior at-bats, so he laid down a picture-perfect bunt. He eventually scored on Milver Reyes’ two-out single.
The Cyclones had put themselves in Wednesday night’s do-or-die situation with a horrible 7-2 loss the night before in Williamsport. The Crosscutters scored five runs in the second inning, and the Cyclones were pretty much done for the night. They threatened once, loading the bases in the 7th, but Brett Harper popped up to end the rally.
“Of course we’re all hanging our heads now,” said Cyclones pitcher Tanner Osberg, looking around the somber Clones locker room. “But those heads will be held high in a few days. We made it to a place that every other team in the league wishes it could get to. What a great season.”
September 15, 2003 issue
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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