AMSTERDAM -- The Amsterdam Mohawks won their fourth league championship Sunday with a 13-2 win over Utica, sweeping the Blue Sox in the PGCBL Championship Series.
The Mohawks won three straight league championships between 2012 and 2014 and have now added 2016 to their record four league titles. The championship completes a stellar season for the Mohawks, who posted the league’s best regular season record (34-15) before beating Oneonta in the semifinals of the PGCBL Playoffs and Albany in East Division Championship Series.
Utica took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Franklin Jennings led off the game with a single, promptly stole second base and came around to score on a Joe Spitaleri RBI single to center field. Amsterdam responded in the home half, though, as Chris Givin drove in Andruw Gazzola with an RBI single to center field and Joe Genord, the PGCBL’s leading RBI man in the regular season, plated Givin with a double down the left field line.
The Blue Sox tied the game at two in the second inning with two outs on a Jennings RBI single to center. Amsterdam broke that 2-2 tie in the third inning on a leadoff walk, a Genord double and a Tristen Carranza sacrifice fly. A batter later, Nick Patten hit a long two-run home run to left field to give the Mohawks a 5-2 lead.
The Mohawks extended the lead to 8-2 in the sixth inning on two throwing errors. Marcus Still hit a home run to left field in the bottom of the seventh to make it 9-2 Amsterdam. The Mohawks added some extra insurance in the eighth on a bases loaded walk, a fielder's choice, a Chris Givin RBI single and a Tyler Frank RBI single.
Paul Milto settled down after allowing the two runs in the first two innings as he finished with a line of five innings and just the two runs allowed as he earned the win. Johnny Malatesta tossed three scoreless innings of relief for the Mohawks. Ben Collincini sealed the win for Amsterdam with a scoreless ninth. Craig Prince took the loss for Utica.
"This is just a quality group of guys," said Amsterdam head coach Doug O'Brey. "When you have a group of guys like this, you're going to win championships."
Mohawks owner Brian Spagnola said Amsterdam was playing its best baseball of the season in the playoffs after a regular season that had its fair share of injuries.
"Keith (Griffin), as always, did a great job and it's great to be able to win in front of the home fans," he said.
Despite the championship loss, it was a good season for the Blue Sox, who went 31-18 during the regular season a year after going 21-29 and two years after winning only nine games.
For the Mohawks, they capped off a fifth pennant with their fourth championship. The championship comes a year after the Mohawks didn’t appear in the PGCBL Championship Series for the first time in the league’s existence.
It’s the third straight year the PGCBL Championship Series has been a sweep.
2011 – Newark Pilots
2012 – Amsterdam Mohawks
2013 – Amsterdam Mohawks
2014 – Amsterdam Mohawks
2015 – Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs
2016 – Amsterdam Mohawks
2016 Playoff Recap
East: No. 1 Amsterdam over No. 4 Oneonta
East: No. 2 Albany over No. 3 Mohawk Valley
West: No. 1 Elmira over No. 4 Newark
West: No. 2 Utica over No. 3 Jamestown
Division Championship Series
East: No. 1 Amsterdam over No. 2 Albany, two games to one
West: No. 2 Utica over No. 1 Elmira, two games to one
Amsterdam (East) over Utica (West), two games to none
The yearly awards will be announced over the next week. Coach of the Year will be announced Monday, Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday, Player of the Year on Friday and All-League Team on Monday, Aug. 15.
The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the largest independent scouting service in the country. Last year, more than 1,400 professional players had either worn the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event.
For more information about the PGCBL, visit www.pgcbl.com, and follow the league on Twitter, @PGCBLbaseball.