Filed by the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs:
The big number for the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs going into their doubleheader Friday with the Elmira Pioneers was two.
That was their magic number to get into the playoffs: if they swept the Pioneers or split with them, combined with an Albany loss, Mohawk Valley would earn their spot in the PGCBL playoffs.
It turned out they didn’t even need to watch the Albany game, as the Diamond Dawgs swept the Pioneers, 4-3 and 8-0 and clinched a playoff spot.
The Pioneers got on the board first in Game One, as a single by Chris Kalousdian (King’s Park, NY/Manhattan) that got into the gap in right scored TJ Dixon (Mobile, AL/Samford). Taylor Hillson (Mansfield, PA/Mansfield) would score one batter latter, as Christian Santisteban (Miami, FL/Manhattan) would reach on a fielder’s choice and Hillson came in from second.
The Diamond Dawgs would get a run right back in the bottom of the inning, as Eric Strano (Robbinsville, NJ/Rider) hit a massive home run to the right-center bleachers. Greg Fazio (Fair Hills, NJ/Rider) would tie up the score in the third after advancing home on a ground out by Joey Carcone (Utica, NY/ St. Rose).
Mohawk Valley would take the lead in the fourth, as Gus Craig hit a blooper to left field to score Zach Collett (Westbrook, Maine/New Haven), who ripped a double to start the inning; however, that was as far ahead as the Diamond Dawgs would get, as Pioneer pitcher Taylor Ahearn (Santee, CA/Siena College) forced Michael Triller (Rutland, VT/Clemson) into a double play to end the inning.
Elmira would tie up the score in a last-ditch effort in the seventh, as Nick Walker (Virginia Beach, VA/Old Dominion) hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field, which would score Dixon.
The Diamond Dawgs would finally win it with one out in the bottom of the seventh, as Fazio would hit a bouncer in the gap to score Triller and win Game 1 for the Diamond Dawgs, 4-3.
Kissinger pitched five scoreless innings for Mohawk Valley to get his second win of the season and even his record at 2-2. Ahearn was saddled with a tough loss, dropping his record to 2-3.
In Game 2, surprisingly, Pioneer starter Brandon Diorio (Endicott, NY/Ithaca College) was pulled after only one inning for Austin Von Herbulis (Sedro Woolley, WA/Skagit Valley). Von Herbulis would give up the first Diamond Dawg run only two batters later in the second inning, when Jayson Sullivan (Charlton, NY/Sacred Heart) hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Zach Collett (Westbrook, Maine/New Haven).
The strange revolving door of pitchers for Elmira would continue in the third as Von Herbulis would be pulled for Zach Pidgeon (Oneonta, NY/Ithaca College). He would also extend the Mohawk Valley lead to two as a bouncing single by Collett into center field would score Carcone.
In the fourth, the Pioneers would continue their game of musical chairs at pitcher, replacing Pidgeon with Zach Bican (Columbia Station, OH/Pitt-Bradford). He would give up his own run, as an error by Walker would score Triller to extend the lead to three. That was all Bican would give up, however, as he would get out of a bases-loaded jam to end the inning.
The revolving door of pitchers would continue for Elmira in the bottom of the fifth, as Bican would be replaced for Tucker Recucki (Ridgewood, NJ/Bucknell). Recucki would unfortunately give up two runs with one out, as Fazio tripled on a high fly ball to right field, scoring Sullivan and Triller. One batter later, Pioneer center fielder TJ Dixon would misplay an Andy LaLonde (Bedford, NH/Southern New Hampshire) fly ball, which would send LaLonde into second and score Fazio.
The game of musical chairs at pitcher continued into the seventh, as Recucki would be replaced by Anthony Ciango (Woodridge, IL/Northern Illinois). He would also give up a run, as a high fly ball to right by Colin Hawk (Beech Grove, Indiana/Cincinnati) would net him a double and score Collett. He would give up another run, as a sacrifice fly by Sullivan would score Hawk from third.
Diamond Dawg starter Anthony Pastrana (Queens, NY/Dominican-NY) was immaculate for Mohawk Valley, going all seven innings of two-hit ball to get the win. Von Herbulis would be saddled with the loss.
With the losses, Elmira would snap their four-game winning streak
The Diamond Dawgs will continue their push into the playoffs on Sunday as they will face the Albany Dutchmen in the first half of their home-and-home series at Bob Bellizzi Field. The Pioneers will try again to make the playoffs on Saturday as they will continue their battle for the top seed in the West, traveling to Colburn Park to face the Newark Pilots.