LITTLE FALLS, NY – Hundreds of people packed Veteran's Memorial Park for the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs' home opener expecting to see the post-game fireworks. They didn't expect to get some mid-game fireworks as well.
Joseph Carpenter's grand slam capped off a 7-run fifth, while Hunter Sibley threw nothing but fireballs, striking out six in Mohawk Valley's 9-1 home opener victory over the Newark Pilots.
The Diamond Dawgs got on the board in a most unusual way in the bottom of the third. A balk by Newark starter Kenneth Westbrook (Binghamton, NY/St. John Fisher) was able to bring home Owen Wosleger (East Hampton, CT/Mount St. Mary's) for Mohawk Valley's first run of the 2019 campaign.
After two strikeouts, Joseph Carpenter (Cornwall, PA/Delaware) put the first pitch he saw from reliever Michael Sollitto (North Providence, RI/UMass Dartmouth) over the left field fence for a grand slam in the fifth inning. Dylan Klock (St. Johnsville, NY/St. Thomas Aquinas) and Owen Wosleger would add RBIs as well. Klock brought home Ryan Hernandez (Tampa, FL/Houston) and Nick Cimillo (Airmont, NY/Manhattan) on a sharp single to left field, while Wosleger brought home Kyle Maurice (Exeter, NH/UMass Lowell) on a fielder's choice. In all, 12 Diamond Dawgs made it to the plate in the fifth, accounting for seven runs on six hits to make it an 8-0 game.
On the mound, starter Hunter Sibley (Millville, NJ/Iona) had as good a debut as you could possibly have. Sibley threw six strong innings for Mohawk Valley, only allowing two hits while striking out six.
In his best imitation of Carpenter, Newark's (0-1) Shaun Hillis (Derby, CT/Iona) parked a ball in the same spot as Carpenter's in left-center field in the top of the eighth. Unfortunately for Hillis, the only run he brought home was himself to cut the lead to 8-1.
Jimmy Joyce (Wantagh, NY/Hofstra) would extend the Mohawk Valley lead back to eight on an RBI single to left field that would score Kyle Johnson.
From there, Drew Helmstetter (Franklin, NJ/Iona) and Connor Stapleton (Staten Island, NY/Concordia) would keep the game in the win column for Sibley, throwing four combined strikeouts to keep the Pilots off the basepaths and secure the win for the Diamond Dawgs (1-0).
Sibley picked up a win in his debut for Mohawk Valley, while Westbrook picked up the loss for Newark.
The Diamond Dawgs will continue their four-game tour of the new Western Division on Saturday as they head to Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds to face the Watertown Rapids. The Pilots will continue their road trip on Saturday when they head to McDonough Park to face the Geneva Red Wings.