Mohawks pull out of three-game slump to win against Stallions

The quick feet of Julian Gallup once again rounded the bases at Shuttleworth Park on Tuesday night. However, this time he was wearing the colors of a team other than the purple and gold of Amsterdam High School. Gallup connected for a pair of doubles, scored a couple of runs, and drove in two, all in support of a stellar, two-hit effort on the mound from Andrew Saalfrank and a pair of relievers as the Amsterdam Mohawks defeated the Saugerties Stallions 4-0 taking a step closer to another Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) division title.

“I enjoy all of it,” Gallup said following the game. “To play on the field every night where I played my high school ball is amazing. It’s a new experience every night.”

Gallup and the Mohawks found themselves in the middle of a pitchers duel between Saalfrank and Stallions’ righty John Clayton, a Glenville, NY native who just completed his freshman year at the University of Albany. Both Saalfrank (Indiana University), and Clayton showcased their talents at the recent Baseball Fest 2017 at Shuttleworth and picked up where they left off. After two scoreless, no-hit innings from the two aces, it was Amsterdam who broke though first with Gallup leading the way.

The speedy Mohawks first baseman lined a double into the gap in right field and hustled into second base starting the bottom of the third inning. Amsterdam then used some “small ball” tactics to move Gallup to third courtesy of a well executed bunt from AHS alumni Robbie Spagnola, who batted as the designated hitter. Two batters later, Dylan Reynolds brought Gallup home as the game’s first run with a single to right. But, that was just the beginning of Gallups’ solid night at the plate. The junior at Niagara University smacked a one-out double to center in the Mohawks’ half of the fourth inning to plate both Anthony Gonnella and Dan Maynard after a sacrifice bunt by Chris Hamilton had moved them into scoring position, boosting the Amsterdam lead to 3-0. Gallup later scored on an RBI single by John Valente giving Saalfrank and the Mohawks’ bullpen all the support they would need.

“We really played well tonight,” Amsterdam Mohawks manager Keith Griffin said. “A couple of big hits by Julian Gallup, and we got a couple of good bunts. It all started with (Andrew) Saalfrank and then a good job by (Carter) Knapek and (Nick) Chiseri out of the pen.”

Saalfrank didn’t give up a hit until Luke Petterson’s two-out single in the third, and the only trouble spot the Mohawks lefty faced was when the Stallions put the first two batters aboard in the top of the fourth. Matt Forlow reached on a single to left and Jack Gonzalez earned one of only two walks issued by Saalfrank. But the Mohawks hurler settled down and fanned Clay Simmons and then got some help from the first of two highlight reel double plays by the Amsterdam infield. Shortstop John Valente scooped up a grounder off the bat of Tyler Kelder and shoveled it to second baseman Jake Mueller, who turned and fired to Gallup to retire Kelder by a half a step. The momentum carried over into the fifth and Saalfrank recorded two of his six strikeouts on the night to end that frame and then set the Stallions down in order in the sixth on three ground balls. Saalfrank went seven strong innings and picked up his team leading sixth win of the season.

“He had a pretty good night,” Griffin said. “He battled them, and they only got two hits. It was good to see. We had a good bullpen too.”

Saalfrank’s night on the mound came complete with a little help from Gallup’s glove as well. A one out walk to Simmons threatened to break up the shutout, but Simmons didn’t have a chance to react when Gallup snared a line drive off the bat of Kelder and tagged him before he could get back to the bag. The unassisted double play kept the energy flowing for a Mohawks team that had previously lost three straight. Knapek and Chiseri got the last six outs breaking the longest winless streak of the season for the Mohawks. Gallup had a chance to shine and made the most of it.

“It all comes down to listening to Coach Griffin,” Gallup said. “Find good pitches to hit and drive them.”

Gallup remembered his final season at Amsterdam High School when the new turf infield was installed at Shuttleworth Park. Now, he gets to play in front of the home town fans as yet another Mohawks team competes for a PGCBL title.

“They had just finished putting down the infield for a game we were playing against CBA,” Gallup

reminisced. “Now every night it’s an amazing experience. Every night I’m having a blast.”

Gallup will be an important part of a Mohawks team that heads for the playoffs a little short-handed. Players who have consistently been featured in the Amsterdam lineup will be out for the remainder of the season according to Griffin.

“We can’t bemoan who we don’t have,” Griffin said. “It’s all about the players that we do have. That’s what we did tonight.”

Valente complimented Gallup’s two doubles with a pair of singles for a Mohawks offense that pounded out ten hits for the night. Dustin Skelton, Mueller, Gonnella, Maynard, Reynolds, and Hamilton all had a single each for Amsterdam (31-12). The Mohawks currently hold a three and a half game lead over Mohawk Valley in the PGCBL East Division.

Amsterdam returns to action tonight at Shuttleworth Park for a game with the Glens Falls Dragons. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.

Behind the scenes at a Mohawks game

It was another “Military Tuesday” at Shutlleworth Park and the Mohawks and their fans honored an American hero during a between inning ceremony. Driven on to the field and escorted by dozens of veterans was Clark Farnsworth, a 38 year veteran of the United States Navy who served in World War II. Farnsworth received a standing ovation from the crowd and shook hands with the Mohawks players.

It was also “Youth Group” night at Shuttleworth and dozens of area youths participated in the between innings fun and were on the field holding the American flag during the national anthem, which was sung by Mohawks fan Clarissa Putman. It was also “Faith Night” at the old ballpark and the pre- game prayer was led by the pastor Perth Bible Church Pastor Mark Appell.

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.