It seems that opening night victories at Keyspan Park are becoming old hat.
For the fourth year in a row, the Brooklyn Cyclones took their home opener, this time topping the Hudson Valley Renegades 4-3 before a sold-out house Tuesday night in Coney Island.
The win came after the normal pomp and circumstance surrounding the seasonal return of professional baseball to Brooklyn — which hasn’t lost much luster since the Cyclones’ inaugural season in 2001.
This year, fans were even greeted at the gates by Cyclones players, who signed autographs and shook hands while introducing themselves to the Brooklyn faithful.
After Borough President Marty Markowitz received a resounding “boo” for bouncing the ceremonial first pitch in front of home plate, the home team quickly went to work.
In the top of the first, shortstop Kevin Rios flashed some leather and lightening by charging and fielding a high chopper from the New York-Penn League’s leading hitter, Chad Cooper (.556), before firing a strike to Tyler Davidson at first for the out.
With the ever-increasing crowd roaring, Dante Brinkley led off the bottom of the first with a broken-bat single to right before Derran Watts dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving him to second. Ambiorix Concepcion’s single to left put runners on first and third for Davidson, who rocketed the first pitch he saw into the left field corner for a double and an RBI.
After Stacy Bennett popped out, Rios doubled to the gap in left-center, scoring two runs and putting the Clones up 3-0.
Watts put his team up by four in the third — all by himself. After singling to left-center, he promptly stole second. After Concepcion flied out — and with Davidson batting — Watts took off for third, and the catcher’s throw sailed into left field, allowing the speedy center fielder to score.
Starting pitcher Ivan Maldonado (1-0) didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning, when Hudson Valley finally broke through with two runs.
Maldonado pitched into the sixth when, after giving up one more run, Celso Rondon was brought in with two outs. Rondon got out of the inning and gave up just one hit in his two-and-one-third innings, passing the baton to Cyclones closer Carlos Muniz, who pitched a perfect ninth for his third save of the year.
In the first of what they hope will be many such endings, the crowd went home happy.
The official attendance for the night was 8,562 Right fielder Concepcion [any relation to Dave Concepcion??] looked a bit shaky in the fourth when a blast by John Jaso spun him around twice as it sailed over his head. The play was scored a double. In the eight inning, though, Concepcion seemed to be getting his footing in Keyspan’s usually-windy right field, making a nice grab on a liner by Shaun Cumberland In between innings late in the game, a faux-Neil Diamond lip synced the classic hit “Sweet Caroline” on the Diamondvision in center field, much to the delight of a crowd hungry for Brooklyn-bred schmaltz.
June 26, 2004 issue