It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Not this time. After being bounced by the Mohawks in each of the past two postseasons, the Golden Eagles were positioned for revenge. A lineup at full strength, a rested pitching staff, home field advantage, and a depleted Mohawks roster all insisted that Glens Falls would strut out of Shuttleworth Park with a Division Championship. But somehow, the 21 Mohawks in uniform on Sunday night showed enough grit to will the winning run across home plate in the bottom of the ninth and sweep their way through round one.
Andrew Green (East Tennessee State) set the tone in centerfield when he cut down Kyle Ruchim (Northwestern) trying to go first to third on a single to end the top of the first inning. A half inning later, Zach Shank (Marist) scored on a wild pitch to put the Mohawks in front.
Brad Picha (Paris J.C.) continued his late season onslaught with a towering blast over the centerfield fence for a solo home run in the fourth, and Green kept the momentum in the Hawks favor with a run-scoring double a few batters later.
With the Mohawks leading 3-2 in the top of the sixth, things got testy. Golden Eagles coach John Mayotte tried to score Clayton Brown (Tacoma C.C.) from third on a shallow fly to right and Josh Alexander (Utah) quickly showed all 703 people in attendance why it was the wrong decision. As Alexander nailed the runner by 15 feet at the plate, Brown barreled down the line and caught Luke Maile (Kentucky) with an ill-advised body check. Maile had an assertive word for Brown and the benches emptied. While the altercation was quickly dispelled and the no punches were thrown, the Golden Eagles felt the biggest blow as they lost the potential tying run at the plate.
Jack Fischer (Wake Forest) got the Game two start and allowed just a couple of runs over six innings of work and left the ballgame with his team in front 3-2.
With the Mohawks still clinging to a one-run lead after eight innings of play, Abram Williams (Radford) was presented with the task of collecting the final three outs and sending the Mohawks to the Championship Series for the third straight year. But Ricky Claudio (St. Thomas) started the frame with a sharp single, and two batters later, Josh Anderson (Yavapai) swung the tide of the ballgame with a clutch two-run homer over the left-field fence to present his team with a 4-3 lead, their first of the ballgame
While Amsterdam might be short on bodies this postseason, there remains plenty of fight left inside those pinstripe uniforms. Shank started the bottom of the ninth with a walk against Glens Falls closer Ruchim who played the first eight innings at second base and then shifted to the mound in the ninth. On the next batted ball, a Jude Vidrine (Lamar) grounder to second, the Golden Eagles wished that Ruchim could have been in two places at once. P.J. Leto (Lureen B. Wallace C.C.) booted a potential double-play grounder and the Mohawks had two on with no out in the ninth.
Maile smashed an infield single to third and then Kody Ortman (Auburn) tied the game with a flair single to center, on the same play, centerfielder Clayton Brown prolonged the game by pegging Vidrine at home. Seconds later, Matt Mack (Radford) punched the first offering from Ruchim into the gap in left-center and Maile dove across home plate with the game winning run.
The Mohawks will begin the Championship Series in Newark on Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM.
Things don’t always play out as they should. For the Mohawks, the underdog script found itself right at home on Sunday night.