In a long afternoon and evening of baseball, the #4 nationally ranked Amsterdam Mohawks took nearly six hours to put away a doubleheader sweep of the Glens Falls Golden Eagles at Shuttleworth Park. Amsterdam won the first game in an 11 inning marathon 4-3. The Mohawks held off a late Glens Falls rally for a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
The wins improve first-place Amsterdam's record to 33-10 in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, the most wins ever for the Amsterdam Mohawks franchise besting their 31 wins in 2003. The Mohawks have already clinched first place in the league and home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
The twin-bill began at 4:32pm. Almost six hours later, at 10:20pm, Amsterdam had two big wins against an opponent they had previously struggled with this season. And Glens Falls took two key losses in the last week of the regular season as they missed out on an important opportunity to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the late playoff pursuit.
In the opener, Amsterdam's Giuseppe Papaccio (Seton Hall) reached safely on a bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the 11th to score Brian Ruby (Binghamton) with the winning run. The first game featured numerous defensive gems on both sides as the tie continued throughout the lengthy affair.
Dennis Buckley (Hudson Valley CC) from Colonie excelled in the opener and picked up his first win in just his third game since joining the Mohawks less than two weeks ago. Buckley fired four shutout innings throughout all the extra frames from the eighth through the 11th giving up just two hits.
Rocky McCord (Auburn) started in the no-decision and threw seven innings while striking out a Mohawks' season-high 11 batters.
A two-run double in the third inning by Ed Charlton (NJIT) extended his league-record hitting streak to 26 games but Charlton's impressive streak which dated back to June 16 would finally come to an end in the second game of the twin-bill when he went 0-for-3.
Trailing 3-0 late in the opening game, Glens Falls would mount the first of their back-to-back late comeback rallies that would ultimately not be enough. In the top of the sixth, Glens Falls loaded up the bases with one out and Alberto Morales (Clarendon) almost gave the Golden Eagles the lead with one big swing. But his bid for a grand slam to left-field just missed and went off the top of the Chain Monster for a long RBI single.
Chase Griffin (Georgia Southern) would draw a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2 and then Mike Vigliarolo (St. Louis) would sock a single to right to tie the score. McCord would work out of the bases-loaded mess with no further damage via a strikeout and groundout back-to-back.
Amsterdam almost won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning but were robbed on the first of several fine defensive plays turned in by both sides. Papaccio's long drive to left-center almost was enough for a walk-off home-run. But the Seton Hall shortstop would have to wait a few more innings to cash-in on a game-winning opportunity as this one was caught at the fence on a spectacular, leaping backhand grab at the fence by centerfielder Danny Brennan.
Brennan himself would be similarly robbed on a nice diving catch in shallow left made by Amsterdam's D.J. Hoagboon (U. Albany) in the top of the eighth. And Mike Vigliarolo would be gunned down in the ninth on a great play by shortstop Papaccio spinning full-circle behind the bag at second to offer a perfect throw across.
Finally, Amsterdam would be able to break the deadlock in the 11th with back-to-back singles by Brian Ruby and newcomer Brian Bullard (U.Albany). Bullard beat out a bunt single with one out in the 11th advancing Ruby to second base. Charlton walked to load the bases and Pappaccio hit a sharp grounder to the left of drawn-in third-baseman Alberto Morales who could not come up with the ball cleanly and may not have been able to save the game even if he had.
It was Amsterdam's third walk-off win of the season.
In Game 2, Chandler Shephard (Kentucky) flirted with a no-hitter for the second game in a row. He was five outs away from accomplishing the feat when an infield single with one out in the sixth of the seven inning game by Danny Brennan (St. Louis) broke it up.
It was a strange game for the normally control-nitty Shephard who had walked only seven batters all year. He walked five in this game alone but also had the no-hitter going late in the game. Shephard becomes the first pitcher in the league to win his seventh game of the season as he builds on his resume as the top hurler in the PGCBL in 2012 with his second consecutive close-call for no-hitter greatness. He similarly gave up a single with one-out in the sixth in his last attempt, last Thursday at Mohawk Valley.
Amsterdam had a 2-0 lead on RBI hits by Scott Heath (Maine) and Matt MacDowell (Dartmouth) in the second inning. And they made it 3-0 on an RBI ground in the fifth by Jeff Boehm (Kentucky).
Neil Fryer (Siena) threw well in the losing cause in Game 2 and mixed his off-speed offerings effectively against the Mohawks but fell to 1-3 after lasting 4.1 innings allowing five hits and three runs with four strikeouts.
After Glens Falls broke up the no-no in the sixth, they were able to put together a rally against Shephard in the seventh to try for a dramatic late comeback. Casey Rodrigue (LSU Eunice) socked a double down the left-field line for the team's first solid hit of the game and that had followed a walk by pinch-hitter Buddy Putnam thus bringing the tying man to the plate.
Pinch-hitter Brandon Matthews blasted a two-run single into center to make it 3-1. But Shephard finished the complete-game win with a groundout of Anthony Pisani for the second out and then a smash lineout by Emmanuel Forcier (Mew Mexico JC) that was grabbed on a fine catch below the knees by Jeff Limbaugh (Parkland) at first base for the final out.
The Mohawks had previously been dominated in the season-series against Glens Falls with the Golden Eagles winning five of the first six encounters. The regular-season series between the two teams concludes with Amsterdam going 3-5 against their rivals from the North Country.
The Glens Falls losses knock them down to 23-20 overall as they drop from second-place down to third behind the Newark Pilots. More importantly, Glens Falls is barely staying ahead of the teams all trying to catch them; Mohawk Valley, Oneonta and Albany. The top four teams qualify for the PGCBL playoffs and Glens Falls is pretty much in the middle of a five-team cluster all competing for the last three spots with only five days to go in the regular season.
A nice turnout of 1,950 fans converged on Shuttleworth Park for the fourth and final fireworks night of the season.
Amsterdam has the day off Saturday before resuming play Sunday evening at 5:00 on the road at the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs who are still fighting for their playoff lives. The Mohawks return home on Monday and Tuesday in their last Shuttleworth Park appearances of the regular season.
Amsterdam will host Game 1 of the first-round of the playoffs on Friday, August 3. They will also host Game 3 on Sunday, August 5 if the game is necessary in the Best of Three series.
Glens Falls has five games remaining in the regular season and needs every win they can get in order to hang onto their playoff position. The Golden Eagles return to East Field on Saturday at 7:00 against the Oneonta Outlaws in a crucial matchup. Oneonta is just a half-game back of fourth-place Mohawk Valley and only one game behind third-place Glens Falls.