A couple of SEC pitchers led the way for the Amsterdam Mohawks fifth straight win in a 2-1 squeaker over the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs on Thursday night at Shuttleworth Park. Taylor Martin (Kentucky) fired seven innings of four hit ball while striking out nine as he improved to 2-1. And Chase Williamson (Auburn) slammed the door in the eighth and ninth frames as he notched his league-leading fifth save.
First-place Amsterdam has won 15 of their last 16 games on their way to a 16-3 overall record. They are rated 11th in the country in the latest national Perfect Game Summer Collegiate Top 30 poll and will be threatening to crack the Top 10 if they can keep up the winning.
Mohawk Valley fell to 8-10 despite outstanding pitching from starter Evan Davis (Marist) and reliever Aaron Casper (Canisius).
Fonda, New York's Nethaway brothers provided two of the three runs on the night. Josh Nethaway (Univ. Albany) for Amsterdam had an RBI single in the first inning. And his younger brother, Luke Nethaway (Herkimer CC) for Mohawk Valley had an RBI single in the fifth for the DiamondDawgs only tally.
The Mohawks would score single runs in the first and second innings to open a 2-0 lead and then the DiamondDawgs pitching and impressive defense would shut down the high-flying Amsterdam offense for the rest of the night. Amsterdam had scored 30 runs in their previous three games with wins by scores of 12-6, 9-4 and 9-3. But this one would be a low-scoring squeaker and was actually the first one-run victory of the season for the Mohawks.
Evan Stephens (Wake Forest) singled in the first inning and then stole his sixth of the year while advancing to third on a throwing error. Nethaway's groundout brought him home for the 1-0 lead.
Amsterdam got to Evan Davis again in the second with Demarcus Henderson (Mississippi State) walking for the first of his three free passes on the game. He later came around on an RBI single by Ed Charlton (NJIT).
Mohawk Valley closed the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth inning with a two-out double to left by Jesse Buratt (Baton Rouge CC) that was followed by a single to left-center by Luke Nethaway bringing him around.
After that, the game featured several stellar defensive plays in the extremely well-played contest.
Josh Nethaway drew back-to-back ovations in the fifth innings for his fine picks at third base. Eric Helmrich (Marist) smashed one down the line that Nethaway was able to make a diving pick on before throwing out the batter on a strong gun to first. Then Nethaway had to move quickly to his left to spear a sharply hit bouncer from Mark Stuckey (Marist).
Amsterdam had bases-loaded threats in the sixth and eighth innings for Scott Heath (Maine). The 2011 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year socked impressive drives in both of his chances. But his sixth inning blast deep to the right-center gap was impressively chased down by Chris Cruz (Cornell) on a fine over-the-shoulder running catch. And his eighth inning rip to left was hauled in by a quickly back-pedaling David Del Grande (Sacramento State).
The Mohawks also had the lead-off triple in the seventh inning by Charlton but he tried to score on a flyout to center and was gunned down at home on a perfect throw by Mark Stuckey (Marist). Charlton went 2-for-4 on the game.
In-between the DiamondDawgs making their spectacular games to keep it a one-run contest, they were able to put together their own threat in the top of the eighth to try to tie. Williamson inherited two runners with only one out in the eighth but got back to back grounders to work out of it as Mohawk Valley ended up stranding the tying man 90 feet away.
Williamson put away the side in order in the ninth including two strikeouts to close out the win.
DiamondDawgs started Evan Davis was very good as the Mohawk Valley starter in keeping the Amsterdam offense in check. He lasted 5.2 innings surrendering four hits and two earned runs while striking out three.
Mohawk Valley Reliever Aaron Casper threw the next 2.1 innings without allowing a run to maintain his perfect ERA. Casper has now gone 16 innings this season with zero earned runs.
Amsterdam is 4-0 against Mohawk Valley but the DiamondDawgs are 8-6 against the rest of the league.
Amsterdam next plays a home-and-home series with the Watertown Wizards on Friday and Saturday traveling to Duffy Fairgrounds for the first contest and then returning to Shuttleworth Park for the rematch. Chandler Shephard (Kentucky) and Mark Leiter (NJIT) are the probable starters for the series.
Saturday night is Waterpark Day at Shuttleworth Park presented by Bartyzel, Inc. Water rides and slip-and-slides will be set up outside the baseball park beginning at 4:00pm so be sure to bring your swimsuit! The game against the Wizards is at 7:00.
Mohawk Valley has a home-and-home series forthcoming with the Glens Falls Golden Eagles this weekend beginning with Friday night's contest at Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls.