Monday, August 28, 2006

Baby Bombers Edge Cyclones, Close In On Division

STATEN ISLAND, NY -A couple of hits were enough for Staten Island (40-24) to move a step closer to clinching the McNamara Division. That's precisely what happened in their 1-0 shutout of Brooklyn (34-30) before an energized crowd of 4,641 at Richmond County Ball Park Monday night.

The victory pulled them six clear of the Cyclones, who slipped to third place a half game behind Aberdeen. It also reduced their magic number for clinching the division to six.

"About as tight as it gets. Quick game," skipper Gaylen Pitts remarked of the well pitched game which lasted only two hours and 18 minutes. "We don't get too many of those...A good game to watch. A good game for TV."

In a classic pitcher's duel, the Baby Bombers got the only two hits they needed in the home seventh to make a hardluck loser out of Nelson Portillo (3-4). Portillo no-hit them for the first 6.2 innings but the Cyclones couldn't get him a lead thanks in large part to Staten Island's George Kontos. The righthander matched zeroes with Portillo, tossing 6.2 innings of scoreless ball while allowing five hits and fanning six to get a no decision.

"You know, it's real tough," Kontos said. "Everyone's putting up zeroes. I'm throwing well. He's throwing well. The whole year, I've been lucky enough to have them give me some run support. They've picked me up all year. So I tried to battle and keep us in the game."

"Definitely this was a big game after last game where things got a little rowdy and things kind of got out of hand. This was a definitely a good game to set the tone. This is not a joke anymore."

Having had no success at all against Portillo, S.I. finally broke through when first baseman Kyle Larsen singled to left with two outs to knock out the Brooklyn starter. With Portillo gone, Josh De La Torre came on to try to get the last out of the inning. Instead, the Bombers caught a little break when Colin Curtis' double was misplayed by Brooklyn right fielder Jesus Gamero which scored Larsen all the way from first for the game's only run.

"That was a tough one," Larsen said. "[Portillo] pitched a great game. My hat's off to that guy. Six and two thirds without giving up a hit. That's tremendous. To come up with the win is exciting."

"Whenever George pitches, it seems like we're always in the game," he added. "He's done a tremendous job this year. Definitely when we're not hitting, it motivates you. You know you have a shot to win."

The one run held up thanks to splendid relief work from the combo of Justin Keadle (1.1 scoreless) and Nick Peterson, who worked around a two out walk in the ninth to close it out for his 14th save.

Notes: Baby Bombers finish up the regular season series with the Cyclones later tonight at Key Span Park as part of a four-game road trip with a three-game stop at Lowell. They've won the last four against Brooklyn and lead the series 9-4. ... Staten Island improved to a league best 21-10 at home. They return to St. George Saturday to host Oneonta as part of a six-game homestand which concludes the regular season.

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