An event bigger than baseball cost Class A Short Season Brooklyn a chance to win its inaugural New York-Penn League title on its own terms. On Tuesday, the Cyclones finally got their chance.
Yoel Romero's RBI single snapped a seventh-inning tie and Brooklyn held on to defeat Lowell, 4-3, in the final game of the best-of-3 Championship Series.
It was the second title in franchise history and the first since sharing the crown with Williamsport in 2001. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 forced the cancellation of the Finals that year, leading the league to declare the Cyclones and Crosscutters co-champions.
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'I told the guys earlier today, 'It's the last game and since we've got to go home, let's go home happy,'" Brooklyn manager Edgardo Alfonzo said. "But either way, they did a great job all year. From the first game to the last game, they never gave up. They always kept fighting. ... It was a great, great game tonight."
Brooklyn entered the bottom of the seventh trailing, 3-2, after Lowell's Marino Campana hit a solo homer in the top half. Mets No. 24 prospect Jake Mangum singled off reliever Yusniel Padron-Artilles, who had allowed one baserunner in 3 1/3 innings leading up to the at-bat. Antoine Duplantis evened the score with a triple to right and Romero followed suit with a knock to left that gave the Cyclones the lead.
"It was a whole team win. It took everybody," Mangum said. "In that seventh inning, I went up there with the mind-set just to compete. I had a really rough series. The first two games I struggled and wasn't doing what I needed to do. I got here early today and straightened some things out mentally and physically. It's a grind. It's been a really long year for all of us. Most of us started playing in January in college intrasquad games. It came down to nine innings of baseball left to play, so forget about swing mechanics and everything else and just go out and compete. That's what it boiled down to."
Competitors collegiately at Mississippi State and Louisiana State respectively, Mangum was thrilled to celebrate with Duplantis.
"We've played against each other for a very long time and been friends through all that," the outfielder said. "To end our first year together on the same team and on a high note was really fun. But man, when Antoine pulled that ball and I saw it down the line I said to myself, 'I am scoring from first.' I was full speed. But credit Antoine there. I got on base and he came up with a big, big hit."
Brooklyn took a 2-0 lead in the second on Mangum's RBI single and a run-scoring groundout by Duplantis. Lowell tied the score in the next half inning, and stellar relief pitching on both sides held the game in check for a while after that. Mets No. 4 prospect Matthew Allan struck out a pair over three perfect frames. Padron-Artilles (0-1) was equal to the task until he allowed hits to three consecutive batters in the seventh.
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"It was almost like we had to wait until they scored before we could score," Alfonzo said. "Lowell has a great pitching staff and Padron-Artilles is one of the best in the league. We knew it was going to be tough, but we put everything together that inning and came through."
Mitch Ragan (1-0) picked up the win despite surrendering Campana's solo blast in the seventh.
Andrew Edwards hurled a perfect eighth and worked around a single and a walk in the ninth to record the championship-clinching save. The 22-year-old struck out three in two frames and finished the postseason with eight strikeouts in four scoreless innings.
"Tonight was win or go home, and we all wanted to win, so I was preparing for that since I woke up," Edwards said. "I think losing [Game 2] gave us all that extra fuel and fire to get this done. We knew it wouldn't be easy, though. ... It was pretty incredible to have a chance to close out a championship. That's something I won't forget."
A playoff participant in nine of its first 12 seasons, Brooklyn had not played a postseason game since 2012. Alfonzo guided the Cyclones to their first McNamara Division title since 2010 on the strength of a 43-32 record that tied Hudson Valley for the best mark in the league.
"I hope they keep this feeling," Alfonzo said. "Any time you win the championship it's a good feeling. I had the opportunity to win one [as a player with Double-A Binghamton in 1994]. You teach the guys how to play the game, but at the same time, you have to learn how to win championships. It's a big part of the development of players in the Minor League system of any organization."
A 2000 All-Star who spent eight of his 12 Major League seasons with the Mets, Alfonzo joked about another reason he savors the first outright title in Cyclones history. His older brother, Edgar, skippered the club for three seasons including the 2001 co-championship campaign. He returned six years later for a two-season stint, losing to Auburn in the Finals in 2007.
"It means a lot to me, first off because I beat my brother," Alfonzo said with a laugh. "There were a few tough years here, but it was fun to develop, learn to compete and then win a championship. I'm so proud to be this team's manager."
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Mangum agreed about his team's never-say-die persona while basking in the glow of his first championship since high school.
"You spend every day together," the 23-year-old said. "We all live at the Holiday Inn right down the road. You get close with everybody. You hate to see it come to an end, but you're happy you end on a winning note and with a championship."
Mangum and Duplantis -- New York's fourth and 12th-round picks in June's Draft, combined for half of Brooklyn's eight hits.
Boston's No. 19 prospect Nicholas Northcut singled twice for Lowell, which tallied five hits.
Spinners starter Jay Groome continued his rehab assignment while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The sixth-ranked Boston prospect was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.