LITTLE FALLS, NY – They may be out of the playoff race, but the Adirondack Trail Blazers still have a lot to play for, such as making their competition in the Central Division sweat out the last few days of the season.
The Trail Blazers took a 4-1 lead into the third and never looked back, keeping the Central Division race as close as it could possibly be with a 8-4 win over Mohawk Valley on Tuesday. With the loss, the Diamond Dawgs' lead in the Central Division over idle Utica (who had their game with Oneonta today rained out) shrinks to one game.
Lucas Stalman (Bedford Hills, NY/Boston College '18) started things off with a bang just three pitches in, knocking a ball into the left-field netting to give the Trail Blazers an early lead. David Marcano (Katy, TX/NJIT) would also come home on a throwing error by the Diamond Dawgs' third baseman, as would Isiah Daubon (Highland, NY/Sacred Heart) on an errant pickoff throw by the Mohawk Valley catcher.
Austin Pollack (Harrison, NY/Hofstra) continued his on-base streak in the bottom of the first, hitting a ground-rule double to extend his streak to 34 games. Pollack came home on a sacrifice fly by Joey Castellanos (Nutley, NJ/UMass Lowell).
Marcano came back in the second to extend the lead to three again on an RBI single that scored Stalman. Unfortunately, Adirondack starter Shaun Gamelin (West Kingston, RI/Fitchburg State) loaded up the bases rather quickly in the bottom of the third with no one out. Castellanos and Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, NJ/Villanova) would make him pay, bringing home Drew Fureno (Canajoharie, NY/LeMoyne) and Tyler Bruno (Breinigsville, PA/Villanova) on a single and a sacrifice fly, respectively to cut the lead to one.
The Trail Blazers brought the lead back to two on another sacrifice fly, this time by Tripp McCaffrey (Mullica Hill, NJ/UMass Lowell), scoring Daubon on the deep fly ball in center field in the fifth. They'd add another one on a fielder's choice by Marcano, scoring Bobby Garbuio (Chappaqua, NY/Sacred Heart). John Polichetti (Atkinson, NH/UMass Lowell) extended the Adirondack lead on an RBI single in the seventh that would wind up scoring Daubon.
Another Adirondack run came in the eighth, when former Diamond Dawg Anthony Boselli (Ventor City, NJ/Fairfield) bounced a ball down the middle of the field, scoring David Marcano.
Alexis Monge-Rodriguez (Pembroke Pines, FL/Barry) cut the lead to four in the bottom of the eighth on a hard hit ball to right-center field, scoring Mark McKenna (Grand Island, NY/Canisius). That would be all for the Mohawk Valley offense though, as reliever Brandon Harris (Plant City, FL/UNC Asheville) would load up the bases in the ninth before forcing a strikeout to end the game
Gamelin got the win for Adirondack (17-24). Tim Geissel got the loss for Mohawk Valley (23-17).
The Diamond Dawgs and Trail Blazers will meet again at Veteran's Memorial Park on Thursday, but before that, Mohawk Valley will bounce between Little Falls and Western Division trips for the rest of the week. On Wednesday, the Diamond Dawgs will be in Jamestown for a doubleheader with the Jammers, and on Friday, they will head further east to Elmira for a game with the Pioneers that could decide Elmira's fate in the PGCBL playoffs. The weekend will likely decide the two playoff teams guaranteed to represent the Central Division, as the Diamond Dawgs will host Watertown and Utica on consecutive nights. Mohawk Valley will round out their regular season next Tuesday night with a trip to Boonville to face the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers are all but out of the playoff race, but their remaining schedule still provides them an opportunity to play spoiler. They'll head back to Veteran's Memorial Park on Thursday after a day off, then will have a chance to eliminate Watertown with two games against the Rapids on Saturday and Monday. Adirondack will finish out their season with a final home game against Mohawk Valley next Tuesday night.