Friday night at Shuttleworth Park wasn’t typical of an Amsterdam Mohawks game. Facing a tie with Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs heading into the ninth inning in the opening game of their best of three Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) playoff series with the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs, it came down to the intangible skill of base stealing and the quick feet of Mohawks outfielder John Razzino to provide the final margin of victory.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin said of Razzino. “When he walked to lead off the ninth I knew we had a chance.”
Razzino quickly stole second after earning the free pass leading off the home half of the inning. But, he was by no means stationary and with an incredible jump stole third off Mohawk Valley relief pitcher Matt Pidich, who had entered the game after five plus strong innings from Lucas Godlewski. Razzino was at third with no one out.
“Coach Griffin said this new guy (Pidich) was slow to the plate,” Razzino said. “Once I saw his leg kick I took off.”
Razzino’s effort impressed everyone in the park. The Mohawks were in position to win.
“He’s so fast,” Griffin said. “He had a great start. Once he stole second we thought we could get third and decided to steal.”
Razzino was in scoring position with Tommy Kain at the plate. Kain already had three hits on the night. Pidich had a base open and after falling behind in the count decided to walk Kain bringing Alex DeBellis to the plate. The stage was set for the walk off win.
“Coach said we are going on contact,” Razzino said.
DeBellis hit a chopper to shortstop that a charging Collin Hawk fired to the plate but not in time to get the speedy Razzino. The Mohawks walked off with an 8-7 win.
“I just happened to be the one up in a big situation,” said DeBellis who was 0 for 4 coming into the final at bat. “I just put the ball in play. Razzino stole second and third. He’s the real hero of the game.”
Early on it appeared that any heroics would not be necessary. Amsterdam held a 7-3 lead heading into the eighth inning behind the four hit pitching of EJ Ashworth and a Mohawks offense that pounded out 13 hits.
Razzino drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. Johnathan Pryor scored after smacking a one out double. Pryor also singled and scored in the Mohawks five run third inning. Doubles by Razzino, Joe Purritano, and Joey Aiola did most of the damage. Kain and Brendan Tracy also came home in the inning. Kain later singled and scored on Purritano’s second double of the game to round out the Amsterdam scoring before the ninth. Meanwhile Ashworth was in control and had allowed four hits and only one run on an RBI single by Trey Stover in the top of the fourth. However a hit batter and a pair of throwing errors in the fifth by the Mohawks hurler inched Mohawk Valley closer.
Diamond Dawgs third baseman Greg Fazio reached base when Ashworth’s throw to first was in the dirt. Ashworth’s next pitch hit Joe Carkone. Mohawk Valley had runners on first and second with no one out when Hawk’s comeback to the mound looked like a force play at third, but Ashworth’s throw was wide allowing Fazio to score. Carkone headed to the plate but Razzino fielded the ball in the outfield and threw a strike to the plate saving a run. Gus Craig’s sacrifice fly made the score 7-3 but that’s all Ashworth allowed. The hurler finished with only one earned run on four hits through seven innings. He struck out four and walked only one.
“Ashworth was really good,” said Griffin. “we gave them three or four runs and that’s uncharacteristic of us.”
Amsterdam’s bullpen didn’t fare as well as Ashworth. Daniel Castro and Zach Breen were roughed up for four runs in the eighth inning. Craig’s single and Collett’s double got the rally started. After Castro got Michael Triller swinging, Jayson Sullivan greeted Breen with a sacrifice fly to score Craig. Pinch hitter Will Trahan’s single and Eric Strano’s double into center field did more damage, and a throwing error trying to get Strano at third resulted in a tie game. John McCarren settled things down and pitched around Hawk’s one out double in the ninth to set up the walk off heroics.
“It was a good win,” Griffin said.