LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. – Exactly 40 years ago to the day, the Little Falls Mets and Utica Blue Jays met for the first time ever at Veteran's Memorial Park. On that day, the Mets knocked off the Blue Jays by the score of 4-2.
The names, faces, and league may have changed – they're now the Utica Blue Sox and the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League -- but the rivalry is still fresh as ever. Unlike 40 years ago, where the Mets had to come from behind to win, the team from Little Falls asserted itself early and often over the team from Utica.
Zack Coker (Tuscaloosa, AL/Alabama) would go 3-for-4 with three singles, and Joe DeSarro (Frankfort, NY/Southern New Hampshire) would strike out five, as the Diamond Dawgs repeated history, albeit a little more decisively, routing the Blue Sox by a very deceptive 11-5 score.
The DiamondDawgs would put Utica starting pitcher Michael Rogers (Lakeland, OH/Ashland) in quite the predicament immediately just three batters into the first. Walks by Russ Olive (Chelmsford, MA/UMass Lowell) and Bronson Grubbs (Elk Grove, CA/Sacramento State) and a single by Mohawk Valley newcomer Alex Monge (Pembroke Pines, FL/Barry University) would load the bases just four batters in. Just like that, Rogers would be replaced by Nolan Freeman (North Ridgeville, OH/Mercyhurst). Another walk by Freeman, Utica's third straight, to Austin Pollack (Harrison, NY/Hofstra) scored Monge. The fifth walk of the inning, to Tim Zeng (Lumberton, NJ/Fairfield), would score Grubbs. Immediately after that, a passed ball by Freeman would score Olive.
Freeman would find himself in the same situation he came into in the first inning in the bottom of the third inning, with a walk to Dan Deely (Sonoma, CA/Sacramento State) and a single to Coker . However, a balk and a passed ball would make the situation a little more palpable for Freeman, as the passed ball would score Deely. The damage would be mitigated, as Monge would fly out to center to mercifully end the inning.
The Blue Sox got one run back in the top of the fifth inning, on a triple from Adam LaRock (Eau Claire, WI/Iowa). That hit, which was rocketed to deep right field, scored, Matthew McDermott (William and Mary), who, coincidentally enough, hails from Little Falls, New Jersey.
Austin Salnitis (Central Connecticut State) would come in relief for the Blue Sox in the fourth and pitch admirably, scoring two perfect innings to start. Unfortunately, that is where Salnitis would begin to unravel, as he would score Coker on a passed ball. On the next batter, Ben Porter (Columbia) would come home on an RBI double by Grubbs. The Diamond Dawgs would extend the lead to six on a bloop single by Pollack. That would be the end of Salnitis' day, as he would be pulled after a walk to Clay Koniencki (Schwenksville, PA/Monmouth) for Riley Moore (Pleasant Hill, CA/Diablo Valley CC). Zeng would hit a hot ground ball to right field that would score .Deely would make the pain even worse in the sixth, as his two-RBI single would score Pollack and Koniencki. Thankfully, the damage for Utica would end at six runs, as Monge, the man who started off the sixth, flew out to end the inning. In all, 12 Diamond Dawgs would come to bat, with nine of them coming between the first and second outs.
Koniencki would get in on the scoring himself in the bottom of the seventh, as an RBI single would score Grubbs. That would end Moore's day rather quickly, as he would be replaced by Logan Foster (Panama City, FL/Andrew).
From there, Mohawk Valley starter DeSarro (Frankfort, NY/Southern New Hampshire) and relievers Clay Chatham (Newport Beach, CA/Dartmouth) and Josh Arnold (Petersburg, NJ/Fairfield) would mow the Blue Sox down. Arnold and Chatham would only allow one Blue Sox batter to reach base.
Quenten Thomas (Chesterfield, VA/Norfolk State) would start the ninth by loading the bases. Mitchell Calandra (Floral Park, NY/Eckerd)would make him pay with a grand slam that bounced off the light pole in left field. However, Thomas kept his cool, getting the last two outs to put the game away for the Diamond Dawgs (9-6).
DeSarro would get his third win of the season for the Diamond Dawgs, while Rogers was saddled with the loss for the Blue Sox (4-12).
Mohawk Valley will end the week on a two-game road trip, starting on Friday at Damaschke Field to face the Oneonta Outlaws. The Blue Sox will head on a road trip of their own, starting with a trip to the Robert Smith Sports Complex in Boonville to take on the Adirondack Trail Blazers.