Mohawks advance in playoffs, will face Diamond Dawgs tonight

The heart of the batting order came through with ten hits leading the Amsterdam Mohawks to a 6-3 win over the Saugerties Stallions on Tuesday night in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) playoff game at Shuttleworth Park. The victory advanced the Mohawks into tonight’s first game of a best two out of three series against the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs to decide the PGCBL East Division champion.

The Mohawks four through seven batters in the lineup accounted for all ten hits and all but one run during Tuesday nights contest. Eric Rivera, Dylan Reynolds, Dan Maynard, and Dustin Skelton all came though with key hits, the most crucial coming in the bottom of the eighth with the Mohawks clinging to a one run lead.

Leading 4-3, Jake Mueller led off the Mohawks half of the eighth with a walk and stole second base to get into scoring position. Clean up hitter Eric Rivera, who already had a double to his credit, stepped in to face Saugerties reliever Kevin Napoleon and smacked a line drive into the gap in right center driving in Mueller. The speedy Mohawks center fielder hit the accelerator and slid safely into third for a triple. One out later, Dana Maynard greeted reliever Matt Pushard with his third hit of the night, a double to the wall in right field, scoring Rivera. The two runs proved to be the difference maker.

“If we didn’t score those two runs, it changes the game,” Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Dan Maynard said. “It took the wind out of their sails when we scored those two runs in the eighth.”

Saugerties had closed the gap to one run after putting together a two run seventh. Jesse Uttendorfer was aboard on a walk with two out when Stallions center fielder Matt Feinstein laced a double into the corner in left scoring Uttendorfer. Luke Peterson followed with a single to right scoring Feinstein to put the tying run on base, but the Stallions were denied by a game saving catch from Mohawks left fielder Dylan Reynolds, who used every inch possible to stretch out his glove and take a base hit away from pinch hitter Justin Tuey. The 1,100 plus crowd at Shuttleworth Park was silent for a moment until Reynolds held up his glove to show he had caught the ball. Reynolds effort led to the momentum in the game changing eighth.

“We knew they had some good hitters in Feinstein and Peterson,” Amsterdam Mohawks manager Keith Griffin said. “We got a big play in left, and we got off the deck with a big hit from Rivera, and then a big hit from Maynard to get him in.”

Maynard was responsible for the Mohawks first run of the night as well. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Reynolds reached base with a one out double off Stallions starting pitcher Nick Massa. Maynard battled back to work a full count and then drilled a double down the third base line and into the left field corner easily scoring Reynolds to tie the game. Maynard also came through with a two out single in the Mohawks sixth, stole second and scored on a double off the bat of Dustin Skelton to keep Amsterdam in front 4-1. Maynard even accounted for a run when he struck out.

Tied at 1-1 in the home half of the fourth, Rivera connected for a lead off double and moved to third on a single from Reynolds. After a swing and a miss by Maynard for strike three, the ball got past Stallions catcher Jeff Palczenski, who looked at Rivera before throwing to first to put out Maynard. Rivera headed for the plate on the throw and made it giving Amsterdam a 2-1 lead. Dustin Skelton’s double scored Reynolds increasing the margin to 3-1 after four complete. Maynard and Dustin Skelton each had three hits and drove in five on the night for the Mohawks.

“Dan Maynard was incredible,” Griffin said. “Dustin Skelton played really well and came up with some big hits, everyone stepped up and played well.”

The Mohawks offense supported yet another strong effort from their pitching staff. Joe Lasorsa got the start on the hill Tuesday night and pitched into the seventh before giving way to Morgan McSweeney, who was aided by Reynolds highlight reel catch to end the Saugerties seventh. Lasorsa allowed three runs while scattering six hits, and struck out five, walking only one to record his sixth win of the season. McSweeney allowed only a leadoff single to Matt Forlow in the top of the ninth in two plus innings of work. He struck out one and got five ground ball outs.

“They played well,” Griffin said of his team. “Joe (Lasorsa) pitched well and Morgan (McSweeney) did after him, and we got some big hits tonight.”

The biggest of those hits came from Maynard and Dustin Skelton, who teamed up to account for six of the ten Mohawks hits, each one in a crucial moment of the game.

“I was just hunting my pitch,” Maynard said of his night at the plate. “I was trying to be aggressive. Every at bat was a big situation. I was trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball.”

And while the Mohawks were having a good night at the plate they were also showing some fine glove-work in the field. In addition to Reynolds catch in left, Mohawks third baseman John Valente had a run saving moment in the second inning by snagging a line drive off the bat of Pat Lagravinese keeping the Stallions from posting a big inning. Valente kept another run from scoring when he made a diving stop and came up throwing to rob Palczewski of an extra base hit in the seventh. Mohawks shortstop Dalton Skelton was also flawless making several strong plays to end scoring threats.

The Mohawks will be without manager Keith Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs. Griffin had to catch an early Wednesday morning flight to his home state of Florida where he begins work that same day. Griffin made an early exit from Tuesday’s game after arguing a judgment call in the fourth inning. After a deep fly ball to center field by Chris Hamilton that just missed, home town boy Julian Gallup stepped in and sent a chopper over the bag at third. When the potential hit was called foul, Griffin argued and was removed from the game. Griffin returned to the field after the game with only praise for his team, and spoke with each of his players before departing for the season.

It was another “Military Tuesday” at the old ballpark. The Mohawks honored William “Hawk” Redhook, a Vietnam War veteran, during a between-innings ceremony. Redhook, who served six tours of duty during the Vietnam War, was greeted by and shook hands with the Mohawks players.

It was also time to say thank you to everyone who was part of another successful Mohawks season. On field activities director Barry Rouse thanked everyone including interns Jessica Gardinier, Lisa Walendziak, Garrett Snyder, and Gage Mersinger, who kept things running smoothly during a summer at Shuttleworth. Rouse also thanked the staff that is vital to Mohawks games including people like Hannah Izzo, who helped Amelia Spagnola sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, after collecting a night’s worth of raffle tickets, and people like Callie Lindsay, who stayed until the game’s end, making sure the concession stand was cleaned up and ready to go for the next playoff game.

Amsterdam will face the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs, who defeated the Albany Dutchmen 4-3 in their playoff game, in the first game of the PGCBL East Division playoff series at Shuttleworth Park. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm. Game two will be held on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Field in Little Falls, NY, also a 6:35pm start. Game three if necessary will be back at Shuttleworth Park, with the same start time. The winner of the PGCBL East will face the winner of the PGCBL West in a best of three series beginning on Sunday, August 6th.

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.