Ashworth’s pitching helps propel Mohawks win

Mohawks Pitcher EJ Ashworth. Photo by Scott Mulford.

The lights went out in the top of the ninth inning of the Amsterdam Mohawks 11-3 win over the Newark Pilots Sunday night at Shuttleworth Park. And, while that didn’t stop the game from being completed, the phrase “lights out” could have been one way to describe Mohawks starting pitcher EJ Ashworth’s night on the mound.

Ashworth, who pitched for Fairfield University in the Spring, pitched five shutout innings Sunday, dominating the Pilots lineup and allowing only three base runners. The 6’4”, hard throwing right-hander improved to four wins and no losses this season to lead the Mohawks pitching staff.

“He’s been phenomenal for us this year,” said Mohawks manager Keith Griffin. “He gave us five shutout innings tonight, and he was really good.”

Ashworth set down the Pilots in order the first two innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth. A throwing error after a dropped third strike allowed Pilots third baseman Zach Wall to reach base with one out in the third inning and gave Ashworth the chance of striking out four batters in one inning. He followed through by fanning Tim Lewis and Derek Reed to complete the rare feat. Pilots designated hitter Wyatt Padgett would break up the no hit bid with one out in the fifth on a clean single to center field. Ashworth had done his job to keep the Pilots offense in check and would get plenty of run support from the Mohawks bats.

The first three Mohawks hitters would reach base to begin the bottom of the first. Marcus Carson, Alex DeBellis, and Josh Gardiner all singled off Pilots starter Robert Robbins. A double play ball off the bat of John Razzino scored Carson but did not get Robbins out of trouble. Joe Purritano singled to score DeBellis and Brendan Tracy connected for a double to plate Purritano. Blake Logan finished the four run outburst with an RBI single as the Mohawks nearly batted around the order. Robbins had come in with a 3-0 record and an earned run average below 1.0 for the Pilots, but a Mohawks lineup that rested some starters took advantage of early scoring chances.

“Our offense did a great job,” said Mohawks manager Keith Griffin. “We rested some starters tonight and gave some guys a chance to play and they did well.”

The Mohawks offense wasn’t finished and would chase Robbins in the fourth. The top of the Mohawks lineup ignited the fire for its heart and score five runs in the frame led by Purirtanos’ two run double. Carson, DeBellis, and Logan would each pick up their second hits of the game and the Mohawks had a commanding 9-0 lead. Gardiner would drive in two more runs in the fifth with a double, boosting the lead to 11-0 before Newark would score. And when the Pilots threatened to get close, the Mohawks defense shut the door.

“Our defense made the plays,” said Griffin who went on to mention every starter for the Mohawks defense. “We played solid defense tonight.”

Mohawks Third Baseman Jake Salpietro. Photo by Scott Mulford.

First baseman Tracy, second baseman Gardiner, third baseman Jake Salpietro and shortstop Joey Aiola played like big-leaguers making short hop grounders look easy. Marcus Carson tracked down a pair of fly balls in center field denying Newark any big hits. The defense came through in support of the five hit pitching the Mohawks hurlers particularly Ashworth.

“Coach (Griffin) tells us who the good hitters are and we figure out how to pitch to them,” said Ashworth who allowed only one hit and struck out seven while walking none. “I threw three pitches tonight and threw them for strikes.”

Ashworth was behind in the pitch count to only two batters during the night but would later recover to get the outs. The only other Pilots batter to reach base was Sam Wiggins on a hit by pitch before Padgett’s single in the fifth. Andy Ward, Zach Breen and Daniel Castro would follow Ashworth in completing the five hitter. The win belonged to Ashworth, and it was a special one since he had family in the stands.

“It was their first game here,” said Ashworth. “It was a good game for them to come to.”

Carson scored three runs to lead the Mohawks. Logan had three singles and two runs batted in. Purritano drove in three runs. Aiola singled and Kevin Guthrie had a double for Amsterdam. Padgett led Newark with two hits, Tanner Giesel doubled, Wiggins and Jack Gerstenmaier singled in the Pilots three run sixth inning off Ward. Steve Colella and Daniel Imbro would relieve Robbins on the mound.

Amsterdam improves to 14-7 on the season. Newark falls to 11-10. The Mohawks will play again on Tuesday night with a home game at Shuttleworth Park against the Glens Falls Golden Eagles. Game time is set for 6:35pm.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.