Mohawks shoot up to sixth in PG Summer Top 30 rankings

Photo courtesy Amsterdam Mohawks
The third Summer Top 30 poll of the 2012 season has been released by Perfect Game and the Amsterdam Mohawks have moved up to sixth in the nation. Amsterdam was listed 11th in last week's rankings. The Mohawks have appeared in all three Perfect Game polls this season. Amsterdam is the only team from the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League to break into the Top 30 this season however the defending PGCBL champion Newark Pilots are among teams also receiving Top 30 consideration. The current poll, released on July 2, was compiled by Allan Simpson of Perfect Game USA.

According to a Perfect Game press release, teams in the poll are ranked on the following criteria: won-loss record, league dominance, depth and quality of professional talent and overall strength of the league. All of the teams ranked in the top 30 this week have at least a .500 winning percentage.

To see the press release and the full rankings, click here.

The Amsterdam Mohawks, under fourth-year head coach Keith Griffin, lead the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with a 20-3 (.870) record. The Mohawks have won nine games in a row and 19 of their last 20 overall. Amsterdam has not lost a game since a June 22 defeat at the hands of the Glens Falls Golden Eagles.

Over the course of the last calendar year (since July 2, 2011), Keith Griffin has guided his charges to a 43-10 (.811) regular season record. The Mohawks finished 30-17 (.638) last season. Amsterdam swept Glens Falls in the PGCBL divisional playoffs and fell just won win shy of the league championship.

The 2012 Mohawks own the best record (20-3) and winning percentage (.870) of any team currently ranked in Perfect Game’s Summer Top 30. Amsterdam’s 20 overall victories are tied for the fifth-most nationally though the four teams ahead of the Mohawks in wins have played more games. The closest team to Amsterdam in terms of winning percentage is the Wenatchee Valley Apple Sox of the West Coast Collegiate League with an 18-3 record and a .857 winning percentage.

Three Amsterdam players have won weekly awards this season from the PGCBL. Starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd (Kentucky), a 41st-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2011, was a PGCBL Co-Pitcher of the Week for the period of June 18 through June 24. Yesterday, Amsterdam center fielder Ed Charlton (NJIT) and left fielder Evan Stephens (Wake Forest) were chosen as the PGCBL Co-Players of the Week for the week of June 25 through July 1.

Last week, Stephens batted .444 with 12 hits, 12 runs scored, one home run, eight RBI and nine stolen bases. He bats behind Charlton, the lead-off man, in the Amsterdam line-up. Currently, Stephens has the best batting average (.468) among all PGCBL hitters however he does not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship. Charlton slammed four home runs last week and posted a .440 batting average. He drove in 11 runs on 11 hits, accrued 27 total bases and slugged 1.080. The rising sophomore from NJIT leads the PGCBL with six home runs.

Overall this season, Amsterdam’s offense is averaging seven runs per game. The Mohawks have scored 161 times in 23 contests. In their current nine-game winning streak, the Mohawks are outscoring opponents 70-28. Eight Amsterdam regulars are batting over .300, eight have scored at least 10 runs and six have reached double-digits in RBI. Ed Charlton and Nathan Gomez (Marshall) are tied for the team lead in runs batted in with 18 apiece.

While the Amsterdam offense has been solid, the Mohawks’ pitching has been tops in the PGCBL. The pitching staff, helmed by skipper Keith Griffin and pitching coach Max Hutson, a Wichita State graduate, leads the league with a 2.50 earned run average and 227 strikeouts.

Starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd has the lowest ERA in the PGCBL at 0.33. He has won four-straight starts and most recently tossed a three-hit shutout over seven innings against Watertown at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Shepherd is 4-0 and has 29 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. Matt Gage (Siena), who has worked as a starter and reliever, leads the team and the PGCBL with 39 strikeouts in 30.0 frames. Gage has a 4-0 record to go along with a 2.40 ERA over seven appearances. Closer Chase Williamson (Auburn) is second in the PGCBL with five saves. Williamson has struck out 22 batters and walked three in 17.2 innings.

The Amsterdam pitching staff also includes Mark Leiter Jr. (NJIT), son of former Major League pitcher Mark Leiter and the nephew of current YES Network analyst and former Major Leaguer Al Leiter. Mark Leiter Jr., a rising senior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, led the PGCBL with 74 strikeouts in 54.0 innings last summer. He struck out over 90 batters this spring.

Amsterdam’s current ranking of sixth is the highest in the over 30-year history of the franchise. Overall, the Mohawks have won five summer baseball championships (1988, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and sent over 100 players on to professional baseball. Currently, there are over 30 Mohawks in professional baseball topped by Philadelphia Phillies’ outfielder Hunter Pence (2002).

The Mohawks are in the midst of celebrating their 10th anniversary season at Amsterdam’s Shuttleworth Park. The team, which was formed in the late 1970s, played in at Central Park in Schenectady until 2002. The Mohawks moved to the Rug City of Amsterdam in 2003 and have been playing at the former Mohawk Mills Park ever since.

Perfect Game USA, baseball’s largest scouting service, partnered with eight summer collegiate baseball teams in the fall of 2010 to form the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. In addition to naming rights, Perfect Game actively assists the league in identifying and recruiting top college and junior college prospects.

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