By Sam Reis
The Saugerties Stallions got off to a quick start with three first inning runs but the Amsterdam Mohawks fought back to ultimately prevail 7-6 in the East Division Semifinals on Monday night at Rao Family Stadium.
Tyler Sausville (New Haven/Xavier) started on the mound for Amsterdam and on the very first pitch he threw, Andrew Amato (Delaware) sent it over the right field fence for a lead off home run, his 14th of the summer. The early noise from the Stallions didn’t stop there as Ethan Conrad (Marist) singled and Corey Dowdell (Georgia Southern) was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. Then, Evan Wainman (Polk St.) delivered a single to drive in Conrad and double Saugerties’ lead. That was followed by Conor Kelly (UMass Lowell) reaching on a fielder’s choice and Dowdell coming home on an errant throw from Marek Houston (Wake Forest) to first.
Xavier Rodriguez (Webber) was the starting pitcher for Saugerties and, just like Sausville, gave up a home run on the first pitch he threw as Gage Miller (Bishop State CC/Alabama) blasted it to left-center field for his seventh homer of the season, putting Amsterdam on the board.
The second inning saw Amsterdam cut into the Saugerties lead even more. After Jaxson West (Alabama/Florida St.) doubled, Jalen Debose (Florida Atlantic) laid down a well executed bunt that put runners on the corners. During Zach Eldred’s (Brockport) plate appearance, on an attempted steal by Debose, the catcher Josh Blackmore (Webber) had an inaccurate throw to second, allowing West to come home, making it 3-2.
After neither team scored in the third inning, Xavier Rodriguez’s night came to a close, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned) with two walks and two strikeouts. Quinton Hall (Eastern Kentucky) replaced him in the fourth and began the inning by allowing singles to Luke Longo (NJIT) and Cam Gurney (Utah). After recording a couple of outs, Jalen Debose notched his second hit of the night with a single to score Longo and tie the game at 3-3.
In the fifth inning, Sausville walked Alex Rodriguez (Mt. San Antonio) and struck out Andrew Amato before getting taken out. The southpaw conceded four hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 4 ⅓ innings. Evan Siary (Mississippi St.) came in out of the bullpen for the first time this summer after his seven regular season appearances were all starts. Aaron Stelogeannis (Polk St.), the first batter Siary encountered, doubled to advance Rodriguez to third. Then, a sacrifice fly from Ethan Conrad scored Rodriguez to give Saugerties the lead back.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mohawks once again fought back. After Gage Miller walked, Bruer Webster and Luke Longo both had singles to load the bases. With the bases loaded, a sacrifice fly from Cam Gurney brought Miller home to tie things up at 4-4.
In the sixth inning, the Mohawks once again fought back. Jaxson West walked to lead off and then Jalen Debose recorded a double for his third hit of the contest to put both runners in scoring position. After striking out Zach Eldred, Quinton Hall was pulled, allowing six hits while recording three walks and one strikeout in 2 ⅓ innings. Dylan Speakman (South Georgia/Albany St.) became the third Stallions pitcher of the night. Alex Irizarry (Maryland), the first batter he faced, delivered a sacrifice fly to drive in West and give Amsterdam its first lead of the night.
Amsterdam’s offense continued to chip away in the seventh as Gage Miller led off with a double for his third hit of the game. Then, the first out was recorded on a Bruer Webster bunt but that allowed Miller to advance to third. Luke Longo followed that up with a sacrifice fly, bringing Miller home to give the Mohawks a 6-4 lead.
Saugerties didn’t go down without a fight either. In the eighth inning, Ethan Conrad hit a ball that ricocheted off the first base bag, giving him his third hit of the contest with a single. Then, Corey Dowdell sent a moonshot way beyond the left field fence to make it 6-6 and once again a tie game. Evan Siary closed out the inning for the Mohawks, allowing three hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 3 ⅔ innings.
However, the Mohawks had a response once more in the bottom of the inning. Marek Houston was hit by a pitch to start off. Then, Jaxson West sent one up the middle and pitcher Dylan Speakman’s throw to second was off line, giving Houston the opportunity to advance to third and putting runners on the corners. Then, Jalen Debose laid down a bunt down the first base line and first baseman Corey Dowdell couldn’t get the ball out of his glove in an attempt to throw home, allowing Houston to come home safely and put Amsterdam back on top.
Jack Seppings (Brown) entered in the ninth to close out the game. The right-hander made his first appearance since the end of June for the Mohawks after spending most of July with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. There was no stress involved in his return to Amsterdam as he struck out the side in order to clinch a berth in the East Division Final.
In a classic playoff encounter between Amsterdam and Saugerties, the Mohawks managed to score a run in every inning except the third and outhit the Stallions 12-7. Additionally, Saugeties committed two more errors than Amsterdam.
Dylan Speakman suffered the loss, his first of the season. The Stallions have had the Mohawks end their season for the second year in a row after falling 5-3 at Shuttleworth Park in the East Division Final last season. Saugerties finished its 2023 campaign with an overall record of 24-18-1, going 1-1 in the postseason.
Evan Siary recorded the win, improving to 6-0 this summer. Meanwhile, Jack Seppings got the save, his second of the campaign. Amsterdam went 5-1-1 against Saugerties this season and improved to 37-5-1 with the victory. Next up, the Mohawks face another win or go home scenario when they host the Utica Blue Sox in the East Division Final on Tuesday night at 6:35. The winner will take on the Elmira Pioneers in the PGCBL Championship Series beginning Wednesday night.