PGCBL Daily Rundown - July 30, 2013

Cooperstown's Gage Griffin (Franklin Pierce) pitched a four-hit shutout over six innings at Albany on Monday night. Photo courtesy Corey Mansfield/Broken Bat Blog

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Note: Individual game box scores can be found linked on the scoreboard page which is part of the “Statistics” drop-down menu. The box scores are also linked on the statistics page for each team.

Last Night’s Scores
Glens Falls 2 Newark 1 (Game 1)
Newark 2 Glens Falls 1 (Game 2)
Watertown 11 Adirondack 6
Cooperstown 5 Albany 1
Amsterdam 4 Mohawk Valley 3

Tonight’s Games
Albany at Watertown (DH), 5:00 PM
Elmira at Mohawk Valley (DH), 5:05 PM
Newark at Utica, 7:00 PM
Cooperstown at Glens Falls, 7:05 PM
Adirondack at Amsterdam, 7:05 PM

*Including today, there are two days remaining in the 2013 PGCBL regular season. Tomorrow is the final day of the regular season. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on Thursday.

*If the playoffs started today…East 1) Amsterdam, bye, 3) Albany at 2) Mohawk Valley…West 1) Watertown, bye, 3) Newark at 2) Elmira.  Both number one seeds have locked in a playoff spot as have Newark and Elmira in the West.

*Games played-games remaining…Adirondack (46-2), Albany (44-4), Amsterdam (46-2), Cooperstown (42-2), Elmira (44-3), Glens Falls (45-3), Mohawk Valley (42-3), Newark (45-2), Utica (42-2), Watertown (45-3).

*Here’s what we know about the playoffs. The playoffs teams in the PGCBL West are set with Watertown, Elmira and Newark heading to the postseason. Watertown clinched the division title and will be the number one seed in the upcoming divisional playoffs. Elmira and Newark are left to battle for the right to host Thursday night’s opening round game. The East is more convoluted. Amsterdam clinched the division title on Monday night and will host an opening round game this coming Friday. Mohawk Valley, Albany and Glens Falls are all fighting for the final two playoff spots – all three teams have 24 wins.

*Playoff scenarios…
West – Elmira holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Newark in the season series and would host if each team finishes with an identical record – either 21-26 or 22-25.
*Elmira’s “Magic Number” to clinch second place in the West is one – either one win or one Newark loss will give Elmira a home playoff game on Thursday night against Newark. 
*Newark needs to win out and have Elmira lose all three of its remaining games to host.

East – Three teams for two spots. One .500 or better team will not make the playoffs. All three teams have guaranteed themselves a regular season record of .500 or higher.
*Mohawk Valley – at worst can finish 24-21, at best can finish 27-18.
*Glens Falls – at worst can finish 24-24, at best can finish 27-21
*Albany – at worst can finish 24-24, at best can finish 28-20.
*Glens Falls and Albany have two head-to-head meetings left. Albany leads the season series, 5-3.
*Glens Falls and Albany will play a non-traditional doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game will be the completion of a contest started on July 7. When play is resumed, Glens Falls will have a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
*Because Mohawk Valley will play only 45 games, it cannot possibly tie Glens Falls or Albany.
*It is possible for Glens Falls and Albany to tie with identical records and a split in the season series. In that case, the next tiebreaker would go to the team with the best intra-division record. Glens Falls is 13-14, Albany is 14-13. Glens Falls has three games left against division opponents, Albany has two.

*Talk about a dramatic turn of events on Monday night at Shuttleworth Park. Mohawk Valley’s Sam Dexter (Southern Maine) came racing home on a successful suicide squeeze by Landon Thibodeaux (LSU Eunice) in the eighth to force a 3-3 tie. The DiamondDawgs nearly took the lead in the ninth but Jordan Friend (Alabama A&M) was thrown out at home on a relay throw from Amsterdam left fielder Shane Zimmer to shortstop John Sansone (Florida State) to catcher Keith Skinner (Fairfield). In the bottom of the ninth, Ed Charlton (NJIT) was nearly retired on the play in which he scored the winning run. Tyler Bray’s (ULM) wild pitch bounced hard off of the brick backstop at Shuttleworth Park and came back towards the home plate area. Charlton had to slide head first into home plate to win the game.

*Amsterdam posted its fourth walk-off win of the season on Monday night. The Mohawks’ four wins via walk-off are second in the league to Albany’s five. Amsterdam walk-off wins have come on hits by Brian Ruby (Binghamton) and Dylan Smith (Auburn) as well as a wild pitch and a passed ball which scored Ed Charlton (NJIT) and Dylan Smith (Auburn) respectively. Over the last two years, Amsterdam has beaten Mohawk Valley three times on a walk-off play.

*Sam Dexter (Southern Maine) has been in the midst of several successful squeeze plays over the last week. Dexter executed a successful safety squeeze bunt last Monday night to plate Casey Rodrigue (LSU Eunice) with the eventual winning run in a game at Glens Falls. Monday night, Dexter came barreling home from third with a suicide squeeze on and Landon Thibodeaux (LSU Eunice) got the bunt down to allow Dexter to record the tying tally.

*Amsterdam’s John Sansone (Florida State) broke up a no-hit bid by Mohawk Valley’s Keegan Long (Saint Joseph’s, Ind.) in dramatic fashion on Monday night at Shuttleworth Park. Long carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in a scoreless game. Lead-off batter Shane Zimmer (Canisius) reached on a throwing error and then Sansone blasted a pitch over the Chain Monster in left field to give Amsterdam a 2-0 lead on its first hit of the game.

*One of the interestingstories on Monday night at Amsterdam was the tremendous pitchers’ duel between MV’s Keegan Long (Saint Joseph’s, Ind.) and Amsterdam’s Chris Kalica (St. John’s 2013-14). Kalica spun a two-hit shutout over six innings and retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced in his 21st appearance of the season. Long was perfect through three innings and carried a no-hitter into the sixth. He pitched into the ninth inning and was removed with one out. Long ultimately took the loss though he held the league’s leading offense to four runs on four hits. Long walked three and struck out five.

*Amsterdam became the first team this season to reach the 30-win plateau. The Mohawks have won at least 30 games in each of the last three seasons and have done so four times under Keith Griffin in five years. During that time, Amsterdam has won four division championships. Amsterdam has been the first time to 30 wins in each of the last two years.

*Glens Falls and Newark played the quickest 14 innings of the season on Monday night at Colburn Park. The Golden Eagles and Pilots wrapped up the first seven-inning game in one hour and 35 minutes and then it just took 90 minutes to complete the night cap.

*All four starting pitchers in the Glens Falls-Newark doubleheader pitched well. In the opener, two Upstate New York pitchers from two small Upstate New York colleges collided as Newark’s Justin D’Amato (St. John Fisher) from Canandaigua, N.Y., opposed Glens Falls’ Ryan Davis (LeMoyne) from Queensbury, N.Y. Davis and the Eagles got the better of D’Amato and the Pilots. Davis pitched a complete game four-hitter and yielded one unearned run. He walked one and struck out five to improve to 3-2. D’Amato allowed just three hits in a complete game effort but gave up two runs, one was unearned. He walked three and struck out a doubleheader-high seven. In the night cap, Newark’s Will Spitzfaden (Southeast Missouri State) opposed Glens Falls’ Matt Portland (Northwestern), a native of nearby Victor, N.Y. Spitzfaden, like Davis in the opener, did not allow an earned run. He pitched a three-hitter over six innings and struck out one. Portland went the distance in a complete game effort and held the Pilots to two runs on eight hits; he walked one and struck out five.

*In summer college leagues, it’s normal to see college or even high school teammates on the same team. Monday night in Newark, former high school teammates squared off when the Pilots hosted the Golden Eagles. Both Glens Falls’ Matt Portland (Northwestern) and Newark’s Josh Ludwig (Rochester) were teammates at Victor High School. The two were part of Victor’s 2011 Class AA New York State championship team. Portland got the better of the duel which took place in the night cap. He forced Ludwig to ground out in the second and then after walking him in the fourth, he struck out Ludwig looking to end the home sixth.

*Newark’s Jeff Edwards (Valparaiso) and Glens Falls’ Buddy Putnam (South Florida) were the heroes for their respective teams in wins on Monday night. Putnam scored the Golden Eagles’ first run in the opener and then belted a go-ahead RBI double in the sixth to put Glens Falls up, 2-1. Edward scored Newark’s lone run in the opener. However, in the night cap, Edwards reached on an error and scored in the first and then hit a two-out RBI double in the second to bring home the eventual winning run.

*Five quality starts in a row for Cooperstown pitchers have led to five-straight wins. Cooperstown starting pitchers have worked at least six innings in each of its last five games. Cody Smith (Black Hawk) and Jack Stover (Saint Joseph’s, Pa.) threw back-to-back complete games last Thursday night and then Eann Cox (Black Hawk) and Colton Kibler (Garden City C.C.) duplicated the same feat on Saturday at Adirondack. Monday night, Gage Griffin (Franklin Pierce) pitched a four-hit shutout over six innings and stranded eight Albany runners on base in a 5-1 Cooperstown win. During the winning streak, the pitching staff, under pitching coach Riley McDermott, has allowed no more than two runs per game. That number drops to one run allowed per game or less in the last four Hawkeye games.

*Albany’s Bryan Carr (Saint Rose) likely deserved a better fate in his final home start of the summer at Bob Bellizzi Field. Carr, who pitches during the collegiate season at “The Bob," fired a four-hitter over seven innings and allowed one earned run in a 5-1 defeat. Carr was charged with four total runs, three unearned. He walked one, struck out five and induced 12 ground outs.

*Cooperstown got off to a quick start and never trailed on Monday night thanks to an early burst from Ben Hall (Central Alabama). The UAH-bound infielder reached on an error to start the game and then advanced to third on a double. He scored Cooperstown’s first run on a Nate Lotze (Kenyon) ground out. Hall returned to the plate in the midst of a two-out rally in the second. He keyed the rally with a single that scored Austin March (UC Davis) from second. With runners on the corners, Hall attempted to steal second. An errant throw on the stolen base attempt allowed Ryan Hanahan (Marietta) to race home from third to put Cooperstown ahead, 3-0.

*Adirondack’s Luke Emling (Villanova) clubbed his league leading ninth home run on Monday night against the Watertown Rams. Emling leads the PGCBL home run race by three over second-place Ed Charlton (NJIT) of Amsterdam and Matthew Dacey (Richmond 2013-14) of Albany who each have six home runs.

*Watertown scored 11 unanswered runs to upend Adirondack, 12-5, on July 9 at the Smith Sports Complex in Boonville. Monday night, the Rams again played from behind and rallied back from a 6-3 deficit to defeat Adirondack, 11-6. All eight Watertown comeback runs on Monday crossed the plate between the fifth and ninth innings.

*Adirondack and Watertown combined for 17 runs on Monday night but one of the bigger stories was Watertown’s relief pitching. Bullpen arms Thomas Casey (Texas A&M – Corpus Christi), Josh Amann (Jefferson C.C.), Cody Culp (Bellevue) and Matt Hennie (St. John’s) combined to allow just two unearned runs over the final seven innings. Casey allowed a two-out, two-run home run in the third and that was all. The quartet held Adirondack to just two hits and struck out seven. Casey pitched four innings to earn the win.

Did you know? One fact about a random PGCBL player each day…
*Over two seasons with the Amsterdam Mohawks, current PGCBL co-Player of the Week Ed Charlton (NJIT) has amassed a .318 batting average, 89 hits, 56 runs, 14 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 61 RBI. Charlton’s 13 career home runs are first all-time in the three-year history of the league. In each of the last two years, the center fielder from NJIT has recorded at least 40 hits, 25 runs and 30 RBI.

Quick hits on tonight’s games…
*Dueling doubleheaders that begin around 5:05 p.m. may hold the key to the playoff chase in the PGCBL East. The second-place Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs host the Elmira Pioneers in a twin bill at Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls while the third-place Albany Dutchmen travel to the North Country for the first time this season to play two against the PGCBL West champion Watertown Rams. As play opens tonight, Mohawk Valley leads third-place Albany by 1.5 games while Albany’s edge over Glens Falls is a half-game. The Dutchmen have a game at hand on the Golden Eagles as well.

*Beginning in Little Falls, Elmira has already clinched a playoff spot and is fighting for home-field advantage on Thursday night while Mohawk Valley is in the midst of a three-way fight for the final two playoff spots in the East. Mohawk Valley saw its hopes for a division title and a first-round bye end on Monday night at Amsterdam but the DiamondDawgs still have a good chance to clinch a playoff spot with three home games over the final two days of the regular season. Roberto Vaz’s Dawgs are 8-2 in their last 10 home games and have swept a back-to-back home double dips with Adirondack (July 3) and Albany (July 14). Against PGCBL West teams at home, MV is 6-2; Mohawk Valley has won its last two home games against squads from the West. The Dawgs have lost their last two games overall however and they have not lost three in a row all season. Elmira is 1-5 in its last six games with four of those five losses coming away from home. Elmira does have a recent road split with Watertown in a doubleheader from last week. Mohawk Valley leads the season series, 2-0, with both wins coming at Dunn Field.

*In Watertown, the Albany Dutchmen open up a stretch of four games over the final two days of the regular season with a doubleheader at Watertown. All four Albany games will be away from Bob Bellizzi Field – two at Watertown and two at nearby Glens Falls that may be for the final playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. The Dutchmen are making their first trip of the summer to Watertown, a previous visit was rained out thus necessitating tonight’s doubleheader. The Dutchmen are 3-4 in their last seven games and 4-6 in the last 10. Already this month, Albany has played in parts of 27 games and that includes nine doubleheaders. Overall, the Dutchmen have competed in eight seven-inning doubleheaders and 11 total. Albany is 10-10 away from “The Bob” this season. Watertown has already locked up the PGCBL West championship and will host a divisional finals series beginning on Friday. Watetown’s 14-6 record at home is the best in the league. The Rams have yet to beat the Dutchmen this season. Albany is 2-0 against Watertown with wins of 5-3 and 3-1 in the Capital District. Nick Davey’s last trip to Watertown resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Dutchmen on July 21, 2012. Albany was victorious behind a four-hit shutout over 7.1 innings from Blake Smith (Morehead State).

*Glens Falls begins the second-to-last night of the season on the outside looking in at the top three in the East. The Golden Eagles hope to change that tonight when they host the Cooperstown Hawkeyes at East Field. Cooperstown’s sweep of Glens Falls last Thursday night sent knocked the Eagles from second place and a half-game back of Amsterdam to a third-place tie with Albany (fourth on a tiebreaker) and two games back of Amsterdam. The Green and Gold ended a six-game tailspin with a win in the opening game of Monday night’s twin bill at Newark however Glens Falls is 1-7 in its last eight games. John Mayotte’s Eagles need all of the wins they can get at this point to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2006. The once friendly confines of East Field have turned sour on the home side, the Eagles have dropped five straight in Hometown U.S.A. and have not procured a home win in 10 days. Cooperstown is the hottest team in the league not named Amsterdam. The Hawkeyes have won five games in a row playing the role of spoiler to the postseason dreams of the Golden Eagles, the Albany Dutchmen and the Adirondack Trail Blazers. Cooperstown has done it with pitching. A Cooperstown starter has thrown at least six innings in each of the last five games. All five wins have also come on the road. Cooperstown is 4-1 against Glens Falls this season.

*Newark knocked Utica out of the playoff race on Monday night with a home split against Glens Falls. Tonight, the Brewers have a chance to get revenge with a victory would which force Newark on the road Thursday night in a winner-take-all playoff game at Elmira. The Pilots need to defeat beat Utica and Mohawk Valley on consecutive nights to have a chance at finishing second in the PGCBL West. Mike Armstrong’s Pilots are 6-2 over their last eight games with three combined wins over playoff-bound Watertown and Elmira. Newark has struggled away from home this season – the Pilots are 8-15 on the road however the 2011 league champs have won three in a row on the road with two of those games coming at Watertown. Utica was off on Monday after sweeping a twin bill Sunday night from Elmira at Donovan Stadium. Second baseman Michael Pierson (Appalchian State) leads the league with a .399 batting average. He has a chance to wrap up the batting title with games against Newark and Watertown on the final two nights of the regular season. Newark leads the season series 2-1; the home team has won all three games. The Pilots and Brewers have not played since the Fourth of July.

*A look at tonight’s schedule concludes in the Rug City where the PGCBL East champion Amsterdam Mohawks host the Adirondack Trail Blazers at Shuttleworth Park. The Mohawks locked up the division championship and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with Monday night’s win over Mohawk Valley. Amsterdam leads the season series, 3-2. Since a 3-2 defeat to the Trail Blazers on July 12, the Mohawks have gone 13-1; included in those wins is a 14-3 triumph at Adirondack on July 21. Amsterdam’s 16 home victories are first among all PGCBL teams. The Tribe is 7-2 in its last nine in the Rug City. Adirondack does hold a win this season at Shuttleworth Park. The Trail Blazers shaved the Mohawks, 7-6, on June 15 behind a four-run surge in the top of the seventh inning.

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