Johnstone leads Mohawks past Albany Dutchmen

Connor Johnstone pitched seven strong innings and got plenty of run support as the Amsterdam Mohawks maintained their hold on first place in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with an 8-2 victory over the Albany Dutchmen Thursday night at Shuttleworth Park.

“Connor (Johnstone) was outstanding,” Mohawks manager Keith Griffin said. “He’s making a real move on our staff.”

Johnstone was on his game early allowing only three hits through the first six frames taking a shutout into the seventh inning. Demetrius Webb connected for a home run with two out and one on to spoil the shutout bid. But nothing stopped Johnstone from having an impressive showing on the mound.

“He’s making a real jump number wise,” said Griffin of his hurler who won his third straight decision. “The last three times out he’s been great. He was great tonight.”

Johnstone allowed only five hits while striking out one and walking one. He got run support from the Mohawks offense early in the contest.

Amsterdam loaded the bases with two out in the first two innings and finally broke through in the second. Jonathan Pryor’s ground out to first plated the first run before Josh Gardiner crushed a two run double to make it 3-0 Mohawks. Amsterdam got one more in the third on an RBI grounder that plated Thomas Kain. Alex Debellis and Gardiner would each finish with a double and a single and three runs batted in. Kain and lead-off man Marcus Carson would each score two runs for the Mohawks.

“Marcus did a nice job, Alex Debellis played a big game tonight and Gardiner really played well,” Griffin said. “We got our best players playing their best.”

Gardiner turned in the defensive play of the night making an over the shoulder catch while chasing down a shallow fly ball off the bat of Ernie Clement in the third inning. Gardiner then turned and fired a strike to first base to force Webb who had singled to start the inning. Albany would have a runner on base in every inning but only managed the two runs. Jake Hanson’s single to lead off the seventh preceded Webb’s home run over the big wall in left field. The Mohawks meanwhile had no trouble scoring runs and broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth.

Albany starting pitcher Jose Hernandez didn’t make it out of the third inning, giving up the first four runs. His replacement Jamie young didn’t fair much better after walking the first three batters in the fifth leading to Debellis’ two run single. Kain, Blake Logan, and Brendan Tracy all scored as Amsterdam took a 7-0 lead. Five of Amsterdam’s nine hits were doubles. Carson, Pryor, and Tracy all collected two baggers. Carson led off the seventh with a walk and two batters later came around to score on an error producing the final margin of victory 8-2. Kevin Guthrie and Zack Breen took to the hill when Johnstone’s night was through and completed the win. The duo struck out five of the eight batters they faced.

“We played solid baseball tonight,” Griffin said. “Really solid baseball.”

Amsterdam improves its record to 26-8 staying in first place in the PGCBL. Albany slips to 15-17. The Mohawks will next play at home on Saturday with a double-header against the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs. Game one is scheduled to start at 5pm.

(Photos by Scott Mulford)

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.