The Staten Island Yankees (29-29) were in need of a big statement as they began their six-game homestand against two teams who had their number a few weeks ago on the road. On Wednesday night, in a doubleheader, Staten Island started their series against the Connecticut Tigers on a great note, winning both games by a final of 5-2 and 3-2 respectively. With those wins, the Baby Bombers are now 1.5 games behind Connecticut and the Brooklyn Cyclones for the Wild Card lead.
I asked manager Mario Garza after the game about the importance of these games and whether or not there is an extra chip on the shoulder of the players from the last time they played Connecticut and Tri-City:
“We are in a better spot now than we were when we went over to their place,” replied Garza. “We love playing at home. I fully expect us to have a better showing.”
Game 1 started off with the Baby Bombers getting on the board first. In the bottom of the first inning, Staten Island loaded the bases with one out via three walks against starter Fernando Perez, right fielder Austin Aune would hit a RBI ground-rule double to left field to make it 2-0 Yankees.
Staten Island would score a run in the second on a RBI single by Collin Slaybaugh that scored Jose Javier, who reached on an error. They would tack on two more in the third inning on a RBI single by Vicente Conde that scored Christopher Breen and a RBI double from Javier that scored Conde to make it 5-0 Baby Bombers.
Those were all the runs that Dillon McNamara (1-1, 2.89) would need. The Staten Island native threw four shutout innings, giving up five hits, striking out two batters without walking one. McNamara got in trouble in the second inning when the Tigers loaded the bases with one out. However, he would get second baseman Brett Pirtle to ground into an inning-ending double play to get out of trouble.
Matt Borens (2-1, 5.20) would enter the game in the fifth inning for Staten Island. The only mistake that Borens made in the game came in the top of the sixth inning. After walking Michael Gerber with one out, third baseman Steven Fuentes hit a two-run homer to right-center field to cut the lead to 5-2. For Fuentes, it was his third home run of the season.
That would be as close as the Tigers would get in this game as Borens held Connecticut to two runs on two hits over the final three innings. He struck out four batters and walked one to pick up his second win of the season. Perez would take the loss for Connecticut, dropping his record to 4-4.
Game 2 had Jordan Cote take the ball for Staten Island. Cote got off to a rough start in the top of the first inning. After Rashad Brown (Justin’s brother) hit a triple past a diving Connor Spencer in left field, designated hitter Joel Panake would drive him home on a single to right field to give Connecticut a 1-0 lead.
Staten Island would answer back with a run in the bottom of the second inning. After Breen hit a two-out double to deep left field, Nathan Mikolas would hit the ball up the middle where shortstop Garrett Mattlage made a throwing error past the first baseman. This would allow Breen to score and tie the game at one.
As for Cote’s performance, he backed up his five shutout inning performance last week with another solid outing. He went four innings Wednesday night, gave up one run on five hits, walked two batters and struck out two. Cote got out of a tough spot in the third inning when he held the Tigers to no runs with a man on third and nobody out.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, against Tigers’ starter Austin Pritcher, the Baby Bombers would start the inning with a double by Breen, his second of the game. Two batters later, Renzo Martini would single to center field to score Breen and make it 2-1 Yankees. After a Devyn Bolasky single and a Conde strikeout, New York Penn-League All-Star Ty McFarland would reach on an error by second baseman Will Maddox that allowed Martini to score, increasing the lead to 3-1.
One of the stars tonight on the mound was Sean Carley (1-3, 7.20). The 14th round pick in this year’s draft out of West Virginia had a lights out fastball that allowed him to strike out four of the six batters he faced in two innings of hitless work. Carley would pick up the first win of his professional career.
Andrew Chin would come on to close it out in the seventh inning and would run into trouble when catcher Tim Remes hit a solo homer off the flagpole in right field to cut the lead to 3-2. After an error by Martini allowed Derek Hill to reach first, Chin would get the next two batters out to end the game and pick up his first save. Austin Pritcher (6-2, 4.24) would take the loss for the Tigers.
Staten Island’s pitching as a whole did the job tonight by only allowing four combined runs in the two wins:
“They did exactly what we asked them to do,” said Garza. “They commanded the strike zone with both their fastball and their secondary pitches.”
Staten Island will go for the sweep of the three-game series with Connecticut tonight at 7:05 PM ET. Jonathan Holder (1-1, 3.27) will make the start for the Yankees against A.J. Ladwig (0-0, 2.25) for the Tigers.
- In the second game of the doubleheader, left fielder Connor Spencer when 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, which snapped his hitting streak at nine games.
- I also asked Garza after the game about his thoughts on having four of his players named to the All-Star Team:
“Four special kids, four special guys that worked really hard this year. I can’t say enough good about what they have done, their ability to sustain performance at a high level. I’m very proud of them,” remaked Garza on Spencer, McFarland, Luis Torrens, and Isaias Tejeda.