GREENVILLE, S.C. (September 3, 2023) — In a back-and-forth affair, it was Greenville that emerged on top. Despite home runs from 1B Ryan Clifford, 2B D’Andre Smith, and SS Jett Williams, the Drive topped the Brooklyn Cyclones, 9-8, on Sunday evening from Fluor Field at the West End.
With Brooklyn’s (34-26, 62-63) loss and Jersey Shore’s (34-26, 69-56) walk-off victory over Aberdeen, the Cyclones are tied with the BlueClaws atop the South Atlantic League North Division with six games left to play.
For the fifth time in six games, Greenville (27-33, 63-63) struck first. In the bottom of the fourth, the Drive took the lead on a 1B Tyler Miller single and a two-run knock by CF Gilberto Jiménez.
Trailing 3-0 after four innings, Brooklyn wasted no time taking the lead in the top of the fifth.
Smith started the offensive outburst for the Cyclones. With the bases empty and one out, the California native clocked a towering blast on top of the Green Monster in left for a solo home run. His third of the year and second of the road trip pulled Brooklyn within two, 3-1.
LF Omar De Los Santos followed with a walk and Williams subsequently singled to put the tying runs on base. Following a fly out to left field, Clifford stepped up and placed a ball into orbit.
The 20-year-old launched a colossal drive well beyond Greenville’s right-field bullpen for a go-ahead, three-run home run. Clifford’s fifth with the ‘Clones and 21st in the SAL gave Brooklyn its first lead of the day, 4-3.
Greenville drew even in the bottom of the fifth on a RF Bryan González single before regaining the lead in the sixth.
In the sixth, with the bases empty and two out, 3B Karson Simas worked a walk to keep the inning alive. LF Nick Decker then walloped the third pitch he saw beyond the wall in right for a two-run home run. The New Jersey native’s seventh long ball of 2023 put Greenville back ahead, 6-4.
In the top of the eighth, Brooklyn rallied to regain the lead. RF Stanley Consuegra reached with a one-out walk and promptly swiped second base. After a walk to 3B William Lugo and a pitching change, DH Jacob Reimer launched an RBI double off the center field fence to pull the ‘Clones within one, 6-5.
Two pitches later, Brooklyn was back in front. C Drake Osborn smacked the second pitch he saw down the left-field line for a double to bring home Lugo and Reimer, gracing the Cyclones with a 7-6 advantage.
Once more, the lead was fleeting. Miller started Greenville’s half of the eighth with a double and scored the game’s tying run after a walk and a fielding error at third.
Simas kept the Drive’s attack going with a bunt single up the third-base line, but during the next at-bat, 2B Kristian Campbell was thrown out trying to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Following a stolen base and a hit-by-pitch, SS Eddison Paulino provided the go-ahead blow.
The left-handed swinger hit a broken-bat flare that dunked into shallow right field for a base hit. Two runs scored — while two outs were made on the bases to end the inning — to provide Greenville a 9-7 advantage.
Williams pulled Brooklyn with a single tally in the ninth, but that was as close as they would get. The 19-year-old sent a massive drive over the Green Monster for his sixth jack as a Cyclone to make it a one-run affair, 9-8.
However, RHP Brock Bell recorded the game’s final two outs on a fly ball to the warning track in left and a swinging strikeout to seal Greenville’s one-run win.
Neither starter received a decision on Sunday. Cyclones RHP Saúl García was charged with four runs on seven hits in five innings, while RHP Noah Song yielded four runs on five hits over five frames of his own for the Drive.
Bell (4-1) surrendered the lead for Greenville in the eighth but finished off the game in the ninth to earn his fourth win.
Brooklyn’s RHP Bailey Reid (0-1) permitted two runs (one earned) in an inning of work and was saddled with his first defeat.
Following the league-wide off day on Monday, the Cyclones will return home on Tuesday to battle the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the High-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in a six-game series from Maimonides Park. Neither team has announced a probable starter for the series opener. The first pitch of the lid-lifter is slated for 7 p.m.