On a rainy Sunday evening at Shuttleworth Park, Zak Colby (Faulkner, Ala.)delivered again! Colby lined a clutch bases-loaded single to right in the bottom of the ninth for his second walk-off winning hit of the week and the #3 nationally ranked Amsterdam Mohawks prevailed over visiting Mohawk Valley 6-5.
The back-and-forth affair had Amsterdam trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning but Amsterdam rallied for four runs of their own to take a 5-4. A fluky three-run double by Scott Heath (Maine) was the decisive hit of the inning. His go-ahead drive into shallow left caromed off the body of the charging outfielder Eric Helmrich (Marist) who was trying to make the game-saving catch and then rebounded directly over to shallow center allowing all the runners to come around.
Ed Charlton (NJIT) extended his league-record hitting streak to 23 games on the first pitch thrown to the Mohawks with a solid single to right.
The game was played through a steady rain in the eighth inning as Amsterdam pushed across their big comeback. It was eerily reminiscent of their walk-off win over the very same Mohawk Valley team last Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park when a 21-minute lightning delay, also in the eighth inning, "sparked" a similar late comeback and eventually led to a Colby walk-off winner.
On that Colby game-winning hit, Mohawk Valley rightfielder Chris Cruz (Cornell) came up firing to second to try to force-out runner Giuseppe Papaccio (Seton Hall) thus negating the game-winning run and forcing extras. Papaccio was slowed by the liner to right as the ball almost hit him. He was pulling it at second base thinking the game was won when Cruz's gun from right arrived just late on a close play and valiant effort. The reigning PGCBL Player of the Week, Cruz had thrown out a runner at home earlier in the game.
The first-place Mohawks improved to 30-9 with the win and improved to 8-1 over the snake-bit DiamondDawgs who just can't seem to get the right break at the right time to defeat their Mohawk River rivals. Mohawk Valley is 22-18 overall but are 21-10 against the rest of the league if not including their mark against Amsterdam. The DiamondDawgs fell into third-place in the standings, a half-game behind Glens Falls who won their Sunday night contest over Albany 9-7.
Amsterdam's magic number to clinch the regular-season league title now stands at one over Glens Falls. Mohawk Valley has been eliminated from finishing in first-place in the PGCBL. An Amsterdam win on Monday night at the Albany Dutchmen OR a Glens Falls loss in their Monday night game at Oneonta would clinch the one-seed throughout the upcoming postseason for Keith Griffin's crew.
It was the culmination of what was an increasingly frustrating evening for the Mohawks who stranded a total of 16 runners on base but struggled to find the timely hit. Colby's game-winning single was a situation of the third time being the charm. His two previous at-bats with the bases-loaded in the sixth and eighth innings, he popped out. But in the ninth he would deliver the clutch game-winner.
Eddie Fitzpatrick (Brown) pitched well as the Mohawk Valley starter as he worked his way through one jam after another. The Mohawks acquired 12 base-runners against him in his 5.1 innings of six-hit ball. But Amsterdam was only able to score one run charged on Fitzpatrick, in the sixth inning after he had left the game for reliever Raymond Morton (Norfolk State).
Taylor Martin (Kentucky) pitched well for Amsterdam in taking a no-decision as well as he fanned eight while lasting 6.2 innings. He scattered eight hits and gave up three runs, two of which were earned.
Mohawk Valley took a lead 3-0 in the fourth and fifth innings. Jack Morrow (Young Harris) socked his seventh home-run of the season to left-field to lead-off the fourth. Mark Stuckey (Marist) walked, stole a base, advanced on the play on a throwing error and then scored on a squeeze-bunt single by Joe Carcone (Bryant) to make it 2-0.
The DiamondDawgs tacked on another in the fifth on a single to left by David Del Grande (Sacramento State) who who eventually scored from third on a little chopper down the third-base line by Tyler Hall (Herkimer CC) that landed in just the right place and eluded Mohawks third-sacker Brian Ruby (Binghamton).
Ed Charlton (NJIT) tried to score the team's first run in the fifth inning following his lead-off double but he was thrown-out at home on a perfect and impressive gun by Chris Cruz in right following Jeff Boehm's single.
Amsterdam would plate D.J. Hoagboon (U. Albany) in the sixth inning. He would reach on a one-out single and then a few batters later and with the bases loaded it would be Ed Charlton (NJIT) beating out a double-play ball for the RBI fielder's choice. The Mohawks could have cut further into the 3-1 deficit but left the bases loaded when Colby hit a foul pop-out.
With the score still 3-1 in the eighth, things got a little weird at the old ballpark. A small rain-cell made its way over Amsterdam and the eighth inning was played in a steady rain that varied from lighting to fairly hard.
Jonathan Scott (Bryant) would triple to lead off the inning for Mohawk Valley and score on a wil pitch by reliever Chase Williamson (Auburn) to give the DiamondDawgs a 4-1 lead.
Mother Nature came on to assist the Mohawks in the bottom of the eighth as the even stronger and more steady rain appeared to frustrate the DiamondDawgs pitchers who had difficulty finding the strike-zone. Amsterdam drew four walks in the inning including a bases-loaded free-pass for Jeff Boehm that made the score 4-2.
Then Scott Heath (Maine) pinch-hit on the bottom of the eighth and knocked a sinking liner into left. Helmrich not only could not come up with the ball, but he also inadvertently deflected it over to center. The first two runners scored easily. But the go-ahead run was a tougher matter. Jeff Boehm was charging around all the way from first base.
Mark Stuckey's throw from center beat Boehm to the plate but was also a bouncer a bit away from the dish partly due to the slippery conditions perhaps. The catcher, Jonathon Scott made a lunging attempt but the crafty Boehm dodged to the infield-side of first base to just barely dodge away from the attempt of Scott and avoid being touched. Boehm's exciting base-running creativity gave Amsterdam a 5-4 lead after eight.
Chris Cruz doubled to lead off the DiamondDawgs' ninth against Chase Williamson and David DelGrande was hit by a pitch. Both advanced on a wild pitch and suddenly Mohawk Valley had two runners in scoring position with nobody out as they threatened to re-take the lead.
Jack Morrow was robbed on a spectacular diving catch by shortstop Papaccio who was playing most of the way in. A base-hit getting through likely could have scored both runners. Eric Helmrich hit one deep enough to drive in Cruz from third base on a sacrifice fly though to knot the score at 5-5 and set up the concluding drama.
Against Mohawk Valley closer Sal Lasanti (Bryant) the Mohawks were able to load the bases to set up another game-winner for Colby. Jeff Limbaugh (Parkland) walked with one out and then Matt MacDowell (Dartmouth) placed down a perfect bunt single on the third-base line. After Charlton fanned for the second out of the inning, Papaccio would get by a pitch to load the bases for Colby's game winning liner pulled into right.
Colby had also knocked a walk game-winner off the wall in left against Lisanti last Tuesday in the bottom of the 10th inning. And it was deja-vu "all over again" for the DiamondDawgs with some odd eighth-inning weather helping ignite a late Amsterdam rally.
The Mohawks hit the road to Bob Belizzi Field in Albany to take on the Dutchman Monday night at 7:00 with Rocky McCord (Auburn) taking the mound.
Shuttleworth Park and the Amsterdam Mohawks will host the 2012 PGCBL All-Star Game, presented by CSEA, on Tuesday night. 11 different Mohawks will be represented on Team Griffin's team. The festivities begin early with a Home-Run Derby at 6:00.
The DiamondDawgs returns to Little Falls Monday night for a 7:00 encounter with the Cooperstown Hawkeyes.