AYBL majors & minors champions crowned

Mohawk Valley Orthopedics

Majors Division

Mohawk Valley Orthopedics (MVO) won the AYBL Majors Division title with a 13-2 victory over Betz, Rossi, Bellinger in the early contest Tuesday night at Isabel’s Field. After a pitchers dual in

Game 1 on Monday night resulted in a 2-1 MVO victory, the bats came alive for a six run outburst in the third inning to give MVO an overwhelming 13-1 lead. Every batter in the MVO lineup would score at least one run. Tyler Safran would lead MVO with two runs. Hurlers Ian Healey and Tyler Williamson would allow only two runs, and MVO pitchers would allow only three runs for the series. MVO completed a playoff championship that included wins over the top seeded teams.

Minors Division

The Junior Mohawks weren’t finished with comebacks. Nearly 24 hours after a dramatic win in Game One they were at it again in Game 2 of the Amsterdam Youth Baseball League minors division championship trailing Cappie’s 5-1 in the sixth inning Tuesday night at Isabel’s Field.

The Junior Mohawks were held to a run on two hits entering the sixth inning when Matt Sawitzki stepped to the plate. Sawitzki drew a walk as did Monday nights hero Andrew Spagnola. Then, the Junior Mohawks bats came alive. Spencer Cotugno singled to score Sawitzki, and Carson Cotugno followed with a double to deep center field scoring two more runs. Suddenly, the score was 5-4 with only one out. Junior Mohawks Sal Conti stepped to the plate.

“Sal was in a slump,” Junior Mohawks coach Aaron Cotugno said of his catcher who had struck out in his first two at bats. That slump ended with a resounding ping of his metal bat.

Conti lined a triple into center field that would score Carson Cotugno with the tying run. Conti had saved the day as Spagnola had done the game before.

“That was huge for Sal,” Coach Cotugno said. “We patted him on the back and said to him go out and give it a shot. He gave it a shot.”

The Junior Mohawks had tied the game, but would need extra innings to earn the title against a determined Cappie’s squad. Cappie’s hurler CJ Durinick had struck out the first two batters in the seventh and would finish with 10 strikeouts for the game. Santino Smullen stepped in and drew the first of five walks that would give the Junior Mohawks the lead 7-5.

“We talked to the boys about taking pitches and making pitchers work,” Coach Cotugno said. “One batter at a time. One run at a time.”

Carson Cotugno came in to strike out the side in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win. Cotugno had pitched the last two innings of the first game as well. Pitchers could only pitch a total of six innings in the series, which was somewhat of a concern for the Junior Mohawks. Cotugno stepped up and got the job done.

“I was second guessing a little,” Coach Cotugtno said. “Once we had the lead I knew we made the right choice.”

The series appeared to be headed for a third and deciding game before the late innings. Cappie’s pitchers Nicolino Bianco and Durinick were in command. After the Junior Mohawks had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Yandel Vazquez, Cappie’s would score four runs on RBI hits by Durinick, Marco Bianco, and Kyle Bottisti.. Durinick, the Biancos’ and Kai Brennan would score for a 4-1 lead. Vincent Bottisti would score on a bases loaded walk to Anthony Cannizarro aided by PJ Ferris’ single for a 5-1 lead through five innings. The Junior Mohawks had to pull off another comeback win against a tough opponent.

“We had to beat the same team several times this season,” said coach Cotugnno. “They’re obviously a great team.”

Carson Cotugno led the Junior Mohawks with two doubles and three RBI’s. Andrew Spagnola pitched three shutout innings striking out six. CJ Durinick led Cappie’s with two singles and a home plate steal. Nicolino Biianco pitched three scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

The victory completed a season in which the Junior Mohawks won the both the regular season and playoff titles in the AYBL Minors division.

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.