LITTLE FALLS, NY – The Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs started their 2018 season the way they ended it in 2017: with a win. While it may not have come with the hardware of last August, and most of the names on the roster were different, the win still felt good to kick off the season for the home team.
Tyler Bruno went four for five for the Diamond Dawgs, and Mohawk Valley scored in bunches en route to a 14-4 exhibition game victory over the Rome Generals of the New York Collegiate Baseball League to start their 2018 campaign.
Rome starting pitcher Josh Denison (North Canton, OH/OSU Mansfield) started out his season by loading the bases full of Diamond Dawgs without even allowing a hit. He walked Tyler Bruno and hit both Mohawk Valley returnee Austin Pollack (Harrison, NY/Manhattanville) and Ryan Hernandez (Boston, MA/UAlbany). Thankfully, Denison would find his legs after loading up the bases, getting the next two outs to end the first inning.
Pollack would get the Diamond Dawgs on the board (and get the team's first hit – unofficially – of the 2018 season as well) in the third with a bloop single to right field. Pollack would also steal a base and advance to third on a balk before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Hernandez.
Mohawk Valley loaded up the bases again in the bottom of the fourth on just one hit (to that point) by Jake Barbiere (Randolph, NJ/Rider). Unfortunately for reliever Brendan Halloran, he could not get out of the inning, as the first run would be scored on an error by the shortstop. Stephen Furman would also come home on a wild pitch, as well as Drew Fureno (Canajoharie, NY/LeMoyne). Pollack would add another run, stealing home on an attempted pickoff play by Halloran. In all, the Diamond Dawgs would bat around in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs on just three hits.
The Generals would finally get on the board in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of a bases loaded jam by reliever Alex MacKinnon (Aurora, ON/Niagara) by hitting pinch hitter Woody Woodruff (Yokota Air Base, Japan/Moorpark College). The Generals picked up another run. Stephen Peters (Peekskill, NY/CCNY) brought home another run on a bases loaded double play, scoring Derek Miller (Westernville, NY/Hudson Valley CC).
An RBI single to left field by Stephen Furman (Brookhaven, PA/Iona) would score Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, NJ/Villanova) in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead back to four. A cracking double to left field by local product Fureno would score Barbiere as well as the Diamond Dawgs forced manager. The bleeding would only get worse for the Generals, as a long fly ball to right by Joel Alvarez (Hainesport, NJ/Barry) would bring Fureno home after some confusion by the infield. Kotaro Kojita (Tokyo, Japan/Oberlin) managed to bring the inning to an end, but not before Tyler Bruno cracked a deep double to center field that would score Pollack and Alvarez.
Joe Bramanti (North Andover, MA/University of Maine-Orono) added another run for the Generals in the sixth with a deep fly ball to right that scored Patrick Kenny (Centennial, CO/Wittenburg University). However, that was all former Adirondack Trail Blazer Jon Hardy (Clinton, NY/Mohawk Valley CC) would give up, knocking down James Valenti to end the sixth inning. Mohawk Valley extended their lead in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a sacrifice fly by J.D. Davis (Goose Creek, SC/The Citadel) to make the score 11-3.
Woodruff would try to mount a minor comeback in the eighth, knocking a ball into the right field gap to score Chris DeGiacomo (Norwell, MA/Johns Hopkins). That would be all reliever Zach Taglieri (Port St. Lucie, FL/The Citadel) would allow, however, striking out Donald Stokes (/) to end the top of the inning. Pollack was not done, however, smacking a ball to deep center field in the bottom of the inning to score two more runs. The Manhattanville product would come home himself on a sacrifice fly by Alvarez.
Pollack would bring home yet another two runs, sending Furman and Fureno home on a big triple that rattled around in left to kick off the eighth inning. Pollack would yet again score himself, this time on a long sacrifice fly by Alvarez.
That would be all reliever Marc Bisogno (Staten Island, NY/Fordham) would need, only allowing a walk in the top of the ninth to put away the Generals.
The Diamond Dawgs will officially start the season on Friday as the Watertown Rapids will begin their inaugural season at Veteran's Memorial Park.