Mohawks season ends with loss to Diamond Dawgs

The Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs scored one run in the bottom of the tenth inning for a 4-3 victory in game two of the PGCBL East Division series Thursday night in Little Falls, ending the 2017  season for the Amsterdam Mohawks. Clay Koniecki delivered the game winning hit for Diamond Dawgs.

The Mohawks had rallied to take a 3-2 lead when Chris Hamilton singled with one out in the top of the ninth and moved into scoring position on a double by Julian Gallup. Robbie Spagnola’s sacrifice bunt brought Hamilton home with the tying run, and John Valente’s single scored Gallup putting the Mohawks in front. Diamond Dawgs put one on the board to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

The Mohawks also dropped game one to the Diamond Dawgs Diamond Dawgs, 4-3, Wednesday night at Shuttleworth Park.

During game one, Diamond Dawgs pitcher Clay Chatham came on in relief of starter Johnathan McKinney in the bottom of the second with the Mohawks leading 1-0 and the bases loaded. Amsterdam third baseman John Valente sent a ground ball up the middle of the infield leading to two runs, with Julian Gallup being forced out at second base for the second out. Chatham then got Jake Mueller to ground into a force out ending the Mohawks threat. Chatham retired 15 of the next 16 Amsterdam batters allowing only Dan Maynard to reach base on a dropped third strike with two out in the bottom of the third. The early call to the bullpen was a difference make for the Diamond Dawgs.

“We started out strong, and they brought in a reliever who shut us down,” Mohawks coach Doug O’ Bray said.

Maynard led off the Amsterdam second with single and stole second. One batter later Will Holland moved Maynard to third with the second hit of the inning. Anthony Gonnella plated Maynard with the third Mohawks single of the frame, and Gallup loaded the bases on a walk before Valente stepped into the batters box. The three runs would be all the Mohawks would get however as Chatham was on his game and at one point struck out five in a row, and gave the Diamond Dawgs a chance to rally.

Mohawks starting pitcher Mathieu Gauthier took a no hitter into the fourth inning having allowed only a walk to Alexis Monge -Rodriguez to start the game. Gauthier hit Monge-Rodriguez with a pitch to open the Diamond Dawgs fourth before Tim Zeng broke up the no hit bid with a single to right advancing Monge- Rodriguez to third. A double play grounder off the bat of Austin Pollack scored the first Diamond Dawgs run cutting the lead to 3-1. The score held until the top of the sixth.

Diamond Dawgs second baseman Joe Engle reached on an infield error leading off the top of the sixth and was joined on the base paths by Monge- Rodriguez and Zeng before a shallow fly ball to center field by Pollack became the first out. Olive stepped in to face Gauthier having struck out in his previous two at bats. The Diamond Dawgs first baseman reached out with defensive half swing and sent the ball bouncing down the third base line and then rolling into the left field corner. The hit brought in all three runners and gave the Diamond Dawgs the lead, 4-3.

“We had a couple of plays defensively that hurt us,” O’Brey said. “Those are routine plays that should have been made.”

The Amsterdam defense stiffened giving the offense a chance to respond against Chatham. Amsterdam went three and out from the fourth through seventh innings until they finally got that chance in the home half of the eighth.

John Valente beat out an infield single for the first Mohawks hit against Chatham. Jake Mueller’s grounder up the middle forced Valente at second, but still left the tying run aboard as Eric Rivera stepped in to face Chatham. Rivera’s double led to the ensuing throw from the outfield, which became a difference maker.

As Rivera’s hit touched the outfield grass, Mueller followed his coaches signal, rounded third and headed for the plate. The relay throw from Diamond Dawgs center fielder Ben Porter to second baseman Engle, to catcher Clay Koniecki was well executed. Mueller was out at the home, but Rivera moved into third with the potential tying run. The Mohawks scoring threat ended moments later when Olive fielded a grounder up the first base line and tossed to Chatham covering at first to get Dylan Reynolds for the third out.

“I took a gamble,” O’ Brey said on sending Mueller to the plate. “We weren’t hitting well and I thought they had to make a good throw to get him, or maybe they would throw it away and we could score. It didn’t work out that way and they made a good throw. I’ll take the blame for that.”

The Mohawks had one more chance in the ninth when Will Holland drew a two out walk off Chatham to put the tying run aboard. Diamond Dawgs went to the bullpen and brought in Zach Vennaro, who recorded the save getting Gonnella to fly out to center field ending the game. The loss snapped a seven game Mohawks win streak.

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.