TROY — Despite answering a big Cyclones first inning, the ValleyCats’ pitching faltered the rest of the way and it resulted in an 11-5 loss to the Brooklyn Cyclones on Wednesday night at Joe Bruno Stadium.
Devin Conn got the start for the ValleyCats for the first time but things went south quickly. He only faced five batters and did not make it out of the first inning as his control was not there. He hit three batters and walked another before being removed early in favor of Juan Pablo Lopez. The Cyclones got a hit off of Lopez and walked away from the inning with three runs. Before Wednesday, Conn had made five appearances, all out of the bullpen, and had not given up a run in 7 1/3 innings.
“It didn’t seem like he had a feel for the adjustments. He’s been pretty lights-out all year so it was just kind of one of those days. He’s mainly been out of the ‘pen so I think sometimes adjusting to that first inning can sometimes be more difficult,” ValleyCats manager Jason Bell said of Conn.
The ValleyCats did answer in the bottom half on three runs of their own which came on a three-run homer from Alex McKenna off of Brooklyn starter Christian James that tied the game. McKenna ended the night with his first and second professional home runs, hitting another in the eighth inning.
However, after that, the ValleyCats were shut down and the Brooklyn offense came through in a big way. The game stayed tied at three until the fourth inning, when the Cyclones scored a quartet of runs, highlighted by a three-run homer from Jose Miguel Medina that extended the Brooklyn lead from 4-3 to 7-3. Medina hit two home runs on the night, a second coming off of Luis De Paula in the eighth inning.
The ValleyCat offense struggled mightily after the first inning, only scoring one run the rest of the night after scoring three runs in the first inning. It was the second straight night the ValleyCats struggled at the dish as they only had four hits on Tuesday night in a 5-0 shutout loss to the same Cyclones team. They had six on Wednesday James went six innings for Brooklyn Wednesday, giving up those three hits and striking out five, and retired 13 of the final 15 hitters he faced.
“I think we’ve ran into some pretty good arms lately,” Bell said. “I think it’s maybe less about our hitters, but more of a credit to what the opposing guys are doing.”
The ValleyCats tacked on a fifth run in the ninth inning on a single from Austin Dennis but it was not enough.
The ValleyCats fall to 18-14 on the season and after the Lowell Spinners swept a doubleheader against the Aberdeen IronBirds on Wednesday the teams are now tied for the Stedler Division. The ValleyCats and Cyclones will finish off the series on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Joe Bruno Stadium. The probable starters are Cody Deason for Tri-City and Kevin Smith for Brooklyn.