2019 New York-Penn League Championship Series, Game 3
With the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Lowell Spinners tied 1-1 in the best of three series, the two teams squared off in a winner-takes-all game on the eve 9/11. Taking the mound for Brooklyn was Nate Jones, a right-hander drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Assigned to the Cyclones after signing, Jones posted a 6.59 ERA in 13.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, walking 8, and striking out 14. Taking the mound for Lowell was Jayson Groome, a left-hander drafted in the first round of the drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox who was on a rehab assignment recovering from 2018 Tommy John surgery.
The first inning was full of excitement and tension befitting such a high-stakes game. In the top of the inning, Jones walked a pair of batters and required a mound visit to settle him down. In the bottom of the inning, third baseman was called out on catcher’s interference after laying down, prompting manager Edgardo Alfonzo to come out and argue with home plate umpire Justin Juska. Though both teams got runners over to second base and into scoring position, neither team was able to drive in a run.
After a scoreless first, the Cyclones broke through in the second. Brett Baty walked to open the inning, and advanced to third on a double from semi-final game three hero Ranfy Adon. Jake Mangum singled Baty home later in the inning to open the scoring and give the Cyclones the lead. Adon advanced to third on the double, and immediately came around to score on a ground out from Antoine Duplantis to give Brooklyn a 2-0 lead heading into the third. The lead would prove to be short lived though, as the Spinners would score a pair of runs to when first baseman Joe Davis hit a ground ball into right field; the lead runner scored on the hit and the trailing runner scored when right fielder Ranfy Adon committed an error on a poor throw.
Having completed his scheduled three innings, Jones was pulled from the game after the third and was relieved by Matthew Allan in the fourth. The 18-year-old, drafted by the Mets in the 3rd round of the 2019 MLB Draft in what has universally been hailed as a draft heist, posted a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings with the GCL Mets, and effective in his two appearances with the Cyclones, one in the regular season and one in the playoffs. Fonzie and the Cyclones coaching staff were hoping that the right-hander would be once effective once again and Allan was up to the task, throwing three perfect innings and keeping the game tied at 2-2 apiece.
For all the zeroes the Cyclones were putting up, the Spinners were matching them. After Groome left in the third, Dylan Spacke finished the inning and then Yusniel Padron-Artilles was brought in. The Cuban right-hander struck out fourteen batters in his prior outing against the Batavia Muckdogs- breaking Tom Seaver’s record of ten consecutive strikeouts by striking out twelve in a row- and was setting the Cyclones down with equal ease.
Matthew Allan was replaced by Mitch Ragan, the Mets’ 15th round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Creighton University. The right-hander immediately gave up a leadoff homer to Lowell DH Marino Campana, giving the Spinners the lead. With only nine outs between them and a championship, and Padron-Artilles looking untouchable, a palpable excitement could be heard from the Spinners dugout, while a hush came over the Cyclones dugout and the fans in the stadium.
New Yorkers are nothing but resilient and the Cyclones did not roll over and die. Finding themselves trailing for the first time in the game, they came out in the bottom of the seventh swinging. Catcher Jake Ortega flied out to left to lead off the inning, but center fielder Jake Mangum had more luck, singling back up the originator. Antoine Duplantis, whom Mangum seemed to be karmically linked to in college and seemingly continued to be so, having been drafted by the same organization and assigned to the same team, followed Mangum’s hit with a triple into right that tied the game at 3-3. Yoel Romero followed that with a ground ball into left that scored Duplantis, and suddenly the roles were reversed. With the crowd roaring, the Lowell Spinners dugout became silent while the Cyclones dugout exploded in cheers.
Andrew Edwards, drafted by the Mets in the 31st round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of New Mexico State University pitched the eighth inning, and despite hitting a batter, tossed a scoreless inning. After the Cyclones failed to add on to their lead in the bottom of the inning, he returned to the mound for the decisive ninth inning. If he recorded three outs, he would never have to pay at Totonno’s, Di Fara’s, or Spumoni Gardens; if he failed, infamy.
Third baseman Nick Northcut led off the inning with a single right back up the middle, putting the tying run on base. After striking out a batter, Edwards then walked pinch hitter Jaxx Groshans, putting the tying run on second and the winning run on base. After striking out Stephen Scott, all that stood between Brooklyn and their first solo championship in franchise history was pinch hitter Alex Erro.
The switch hitter, who was drafted by the Red Sox in 17th round 2019 MLB Draft out of Northwestern University, hit .277/.320/.312 during the regular season and was known for his quick, compact swing, above-average bat control, and the ability to make contact and put the ball in play. Batting from the right side against the left-handed Edwards, the southpaw fed him a steady diet of pitches down and in. Jake Ortega blocked a ball in the dirt that Erro went fishing for for strike one. He swung over a second for strike two. With the crowd on their feet, Edwards let loose one more pitch…
For the first time since 1955, a championship trophy was lifted in Brooklyn.