The Bronx Bombers might not make it to the postseason this year, but the Baby Bombers keep rolling right along.
The Staten Island Yankees clinched the New York-Penn League's McNamara Division with Thursday afternoon's 4-2 victory over the visiting Aberdeen IronBirds. The 2008 campaign marks the fourth consecutive season that the Yankees have made it to the playoffs and the seventh time in the club's 10-year history.
"I think it's a great credit to a bunch of young men who've worked extremely hard on a day-to-day basis and have continued to work to get better as the season has unfolded," said manager Pat McMahon. "Step one is to put yourself in position to make the playoffs and we played ourselves into that position, which is extremely important."
Thursday's victory was a solid, low-key team effort. The IronBirds (35-39) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Caleb Joseph's first-inning homer, but the Yankees (46-28) tied it in the fourth. After Brian Baisley was hit by a pitch with one out in the frame, Daniel Brewer ripped a line-drive homer to left field to knot the score at 2-2.
It didn't stay tied for long, as Ray Gomez doubled to lead off the fifth, advanced to third on Raymond Kruml's groundout and scored on Braedyn Pruitt's single to right field. Gomez scored an insurance run in the seventh as well, as the 23-year-old shortstop drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on David Adam's single to right field.
The Yanks' division-clinching win could largely be attributed to the game's four pitchers, who hurled eight scoreless innings after Joseph's first-inning dinger. Starter Jeremy Bleich, the 44th overall pick in this year's Draft, made his professional debut and allowed two runs on two hits with four strikeouts in three innings.
"Jeremy handled it very well," said McMahon. "We're very excited to have him play a part."
Daniel Kapala (2-2) came on in relief and earned the win after hurling two scoreless frames. Andy Shive then served as a bridge to ambidextrous closer Pat Venditte, who hurled a 1-2-3 inning en route to his team-record 23rd save of the season. The 22-year-old is now one save away from tying the New York-Penn League record.
"The thing about this ballclub is that so many players have contributed," said McMahon. "It's very important that we just continue that process. Player development is so important, it's phase one of the plan. Phase two is the games, they are secondary, but the playoffs do add excitement."
Nathan Moreau (1-2) took the loss for the IronBirds, yielding three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings while striking out six.