Host 'Dawgs relish opportunity

Troy Scocca of Mohawk Valley (PC; Shawn Standard/Stannard Photography)

Mohawk DiamondDawgs teammates Troy Scocca (p) and Sam Mahonis both contributed to the East squad's 18-2 win on Monday at the PGCBL All-Star Game in front of their hometown fans in Little Falls, N.Y.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – With over 1,300 people inside Veterans Memorial Park in Little Falls, N.Y., on Monday night, the fifth annual Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) All-Star festivities proved once again a major success.

 The night kicked off with several players from around the league partaking in the home run derby – won by Saugerties' Clint Hardy – and then headed into a high atmosphere All-Star Game that took center stage shortly thereafter. Although the East picked up an 18-2 victory over the West, Mohawk Valley Owner/General Manager Travis Heiser believed many fans and scouts alike got to watch top PGCBL talent perform in a grand setting.   

“It was a great event that generated a lot of buzz around the park,” Heiser said. “From players looking to show off their skills in front of scouts, to a game that was full excitement throughout.”

The game was held at the home of Mohawk Valley, where two DiamondDawgs players received the honor of performing in front of their home crowd. Troy Scocca, an outfielder for the DiamondDawgs, could have easily been the All-Star Game MVP, going 3-for-3 with three RBI, while Mohawk Valley infielder Sam Machonis went 1-for-3 with an RBI as well. As Scocca and Machonis made the home crowd proud, Scocca reflected on the opportunity the two received on Monday evening.

“It was great to play in front of our home crowd and MLB scouts from several teams,” Scocca said. “Playing at home gave us an incentive to go out there and try to win a game for the fans and Little Falls.”

2015 has been a year to remember for the Mohawk Valley organization. Playing host to the All-Star festivities while also pushing towards a playoff berth, Scocca believes the 2015 club could make it even more memorable if they keep making strides to improve on a 23-17 record that places them second in the East Division.

“Our goal is to win a championship,” Scocca added. “We have hit some rough spots, but I feel like we have played our best baseball in the last two weeks.”

Scocca and Machonis not surprisingly are providing a large bulk of the offense for the DiamondDawgs this season. Heading into Thursday's action Scocca was hitting .340 with 18 extra-base hits and 35 driven in. Machonis was just behind him with a .336 average, 12 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases. Scocca believes he, Machonis and the rest of his teammate will have to to stay hot if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs that start in a week.

“We have to keep giving our pitchers a lot of support,” Scocca said. “We have been hitting the ball very well which will help our bullpen and give us an advantage coming down the stretch.”

Playing in one of the top collegiate summer leagues in the country, scoring runs is always at a premium, and giving pitchers rest is what will also prove to be key as Scocca mentioned. While Mohawk Valley has given their pitchers plenty of run support this far, Scocca and company will have to continue to do so as the PGCBL’s top teams start to make headway towards the top.

Holding the best record in the league in their last 10 games, Mohawk Valley has hit their stride at the right time. Going 8-2 over that stretch, Machonis believes the late success should be credited to the DiamondDawgs chemistry as a whole and the leadership within their ranks. 

“We have great team chemistry and our coaches have confidence in us to go out there and get the job done. Situational hitting and staying on the same routine have been a big part of our team. If we continue to stay within ourselves everything will work out.” 

As the regular season nears an end, the DiamondDawgs have one goal in mind, to win a championship. From Owner and General Manager Travis Heiser on down to the coaching staff and players, Machonis says everyone has the same mindset as the regular season draws to a close.     

“We knew coming here the goal was to win a championship and that’s what we’re planning to do to close out the season.”

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