TROY — The Brooklyn Cyclones entered Joe Bruno Stadium Tuesday night to play their first series of the season against the Tri-City Valleycats. Both teams were desperate to take the first game along with the momentum, but the Cyclones threw a shutout led by Jaison Vilera to win 5-0.
Right handed pitcher Mark Moclair took his third start of the season for the ValleyCats Tuesday. Moclair fared pretty well in the early season, pitching six innings and allowing three earned runs, five walks, and eleven strikeouts. But in his last outing Moclair got roughed up, allowing three hits and three earned runs.
Moclair would struggle again early in this one. In his one and two thirds innings start, he struck out four batters, including one looking. Despite this his sloppy plate control allowed four runners on base, including a RBI single for the left fielder Wagner Lagrange to put the first run on the board. Chris Avant hit a soft ground ball to the third baseman, bringing in the second run and effectively ending Moclair’s night.
“Moclair has some really good stuff. I think the struggle for him is the strike zone. The lead off guy got on both times and when you don’t have your best stuff it’s hard to battle around that,” said ValleyCats manager Jason Bell.
The ValleyCats used four other relievers to finish out the game following the exit of Moclair. Of these, eleventh round pick Hansel Paulino struck out three batters. The other three along with Paulino, Shawn Dubin, Brett Conine and Riley Cabral, combined for three earned runs, ten hits, eight strikeouts and no walks.
The star of the game was Cyclones starter Jaison Vilera. Vilera started his night with a no-hit bid through three and two thirds innings, and two strikeouts up to that point. Vilera continued his dominant run all the way through the seventh inning when he was pulled for nineteenth rounder Tommy Wilson. Varela gave up two hits and one walk and posted nine strikeouts in his shutout start. He also received the win bringing him to a 3-1 record.
The visiting Brooklyn Cyclones showed that they were not afraid of one of the league’s top teams, but they clearly did not fear ValleyCats catcher Alex Holderbach. The Cyclones stole second base on Holderbach twice in the sixth inning and four times overall. On each attempt Holderbach made to catch a runner on his way to second he missed wide right.
Bell wasn’t at all concerned with the Cyclones aggressiveness and energy saying “We need to stay within ourselves. We had good momentum and just hit a bit of a wall right there.”
The ValleyCats had a chance to make a run in the bottom of the ninth when they found Alex Holderbach in scoring position with one out on the board. The team’s best bat in righty Gilberto Celestino was at the plate, but had to settle for a walk.
Through a translator Celestino said “I felt confident going into the at bat. I was looking for my pitch, my fastball in a certain spot and I just didn’t get it. So that’s why I took the four balls.”
After Alex McKenna popped up in foul territory for the second out, Trey Dawson hit a line drive to right field to reach first base and load the bases. Luis Encarnacion had to be the hero but struck out looking to end the game.
The Valleycats will play the Brooklyn Cyclones Wednesday and Thursday night to try and win the series being down 1-0. Devin Conn and Christian James are set to square off Wednesday for the Valleycats and Cyclones respectively.