It was a storybook season for the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs, and like most storybooks, it must have a happy ending.
That happy ending came on Thursday night at Veteran’s Memorial Park, as Mohawk Valley came back from three runs down to clinch their first championship in franchise history, defeating the Victor RailRiders, 8-4 and sweeping the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series, two games to none.
Chris Rave (Middletown, NY/Herkimer CC) would draw first blood for Mohawk Valley, as his solo home run to the center field bleachers in the second would put the Diamond Dawgs up 1-0.
Victor would knot the game back up in the third, as Dale Wickham’s (Victor, NY/Cornell University) RBI single would score Chris Lehane (Jacksonville, FL/Jacksonville University). They would take the lead one batter later, as a fielder’s choice by Mark Cardinalli (San Jose, CA/UC-Davis) would score Tommy Wagner (Victor, NY/Cornell University). Matt Brooks (Monroe CC) would extend the lead to two for the RailRiders on a wild pich from Diamond Dawg starter Adam Ashenfarb (Morganville, NJ/Union College). Cardinalli would score himself on an RBI single from Evan Fernandez (Jacksonville, NY/Jacksonville University).
Wild pitches would get to the RailRiders as well, as one from Victor starter Luke Tomczyk (Chili, NY/Monroe CC) would score Ryan Stekl (Lancaster, NY/Canisius College), who tripled to start the fourth inning. Tomczyk would walk the next two batters before finally getting his first out. However, Tomczyk would force Andrew Turner into a double play to end the fourth.
The Diamond Dawgs would chip away at the RailRider lead further in the fifth, as Matt Pagano (Cranston, RI/Marist College) would score another triple hitter, this time Anthony Herrera (McKinney, TX/University of Louisiana-Monroe), with an RBI double. Troy Scocca (Syosset, NY/Fairfield University) would score Pagano with an RBI single of his own just two batters later. That would spell the end for Tomczyk, as he would be pulled after the single for Dylan Swetman (Honeoye Falls, NY/LeMoyne College). Swetman would start out strong, forcing Stekl into a double play to end the fifth.
The Diamond Dawgs would pull back into the lead in the sixth, when Andrew Turner (King of Prussia, PA/Long Island University-Brooklyn) would rip a ground ball into the shortstop-third base gap to score Sam Machonis (Tampa, FL/Florida Southern College).
Herrera, an unusual combination of second baseman and relief pitcher, would move over to the mound in the seventh to replace Ashenfarb. Herrera, like Swetman, would start out strong, sending Brooks down swinging on four pitches to end the inning.
Swetman would also be a victim of the wild pitch as while trying to intentionally walk Turner, he would throw a pitch out of reach of the catcher, which would score Rave. Herrera would get himself some more insurance, as his RBI single would score Colin Hawk (Beech Grove, Indiana/University of Indianapolis). Pagano would score Herrera one batter later on a double.
That would be all Herrera would need, as he would only allow two baserunners the rest of the way to close out the season.
Ashenfarb would get the win for Mohawk Valley, Herrera would get the save. Swetman would get the loss for Victor.
With the win, the city of Little Falls can celebrate its first championship in baseball in 22 years. The last championship to be celebrated in the city was in 1993, when the Little Falls Diamonds won their league championship, the last of three to be won before Thursday night.