Mohawks' Griffin to Return in 2013

The Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League have announced that 2012 PGCBL Coach of the Year Keith Griffin will return to skipper the team in 2013. The announcement of Griffin’s return was made in the Amsterdam Recorder and on the team web site.

The 2013 season will be Griffin’s fifth as the head coach of the Mohawks. Through four years, Griffin has amassed a 122-56 (.685) record, four playoff appearances, three regular season championships and three league titles. Amsterdam has won at least 27 games in each of the last four seasons and has played for the league championship four times. During that span, the Mohawks won at least 30 games three times. Griffin is the winningest manager in the over 30-year history of the Mohawks franchise. In addition, He is the winningest manager in PGCBL history. In two PGCBL seasons, Griffin has posted a 65-29 (.691) mark.

“The reason we send our guys to Amsterdam – the number one reason – is because of Keith Griffin” Auburn University pitching coach Scott Foxhall told the Amsterdam Recorder in June. “I’ve known Griff for many years and he’s great with our pitchers and position players, and we always feel like if we can get some of our younger guys up here for a summer with Keith, they’ll come back to us better than they were.”

Last summer, Griffin guided the Mohawks to a 2012 PGCBL championship and a number three national ranking in the PG Crosschecker Summer Top 30. Amsterdam completed the regular season with a remarkable 35-12 (.745) record and finished eight games ahead of second-place Glens Falls. The Mohawks captured the league championship with four-straight wins in the PGCBL postseason. Amsterdam defeated rivals Mohawk Valley and Glens Falls to win its first PGCBL crown. Seven Mohawks were named to the All-PGCBL team and five of those seven were selected All-PGCBL first team. Mohawks starting pitcher Chandler Shepherd (Kentucky) garnered the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year prize and he was named to Perfect Game’s Summer All-America team. In addition, Shepherd was chosen as the PGCBL’s Top Prospect by Baseball America. Another Amsterdam hurler, Rocky McCord (Auburn), was tapped by Perfect Game USA as the PGCBL’s Top Prospect.

Griffin’s third season leading the Mohawks in 2011 marked the first year for the team in the PGCBL. Amsterdam was one of just two league clubs to accumulate at least 30 wins during the regular season. The Tribe compiled a 30-17 (.638) record but finished a half-game behind first-place Glens Falls. Amsterdam, led by seven All-PGCBL selections, swept Glens Falls in the divisional playoffs and then participated in the very first PGCBL Championship Series against the Newark Pilots. Six Mohawks were honored on the all-league first team. Starting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. (NJIT) topped the PGCBL in strikeouts (74) while infielder Zach Shank (Marist) led the league in runs scored (36). 

The Mohawks won back-to-back league championships in 2009 and 2010, Griffin’s first two seasons as head coach. Amsterdam did not lose a single playoff game and earned 12-straight postseason victories in the New York Collegiate Baseball League playoffs. Griffin mentored 2009 NYCBL Player of the Year Braden Kapteyn and 2010 NYCBL Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hunter.

Before arriving in the Carpet City, Griffin spent around 30 years coaching baseball at the high school and college level. Two years after graduating from Livingston University (now West Alabama), Griffin took his first head coaching job at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla. The Guntersville, Ala., native spent 10 seasons at Pine Forest and won 217 games. He then transitioned from the prep game to college baseball in 1991 as an assistant coach at Jacksonville University. Following a two-year stint with the Dolphins, Griffin was hired on as an assistant coach at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. The Raiders won 158 games in Griffin’s four seasons (1993-1996) as an assistant coach and sent over 40 players to four-year schools.

The Amsterdam skipper took his first collegiate head coaching job at Jefferson Davis (Ala.) Comm. College in 1996. Griffin, in just his second season as a college head coach, guided the Warhawks to the 1998 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II national championship. Between 1997 and 2002, Jefferson Davis went 251-94 (.728), made two NJCAA Division II World Series appearances, won two Alabama state championships and five conference championships. Griffin was the Alabama Community College Conference’s Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2000 and a five-time ACCC South Division Coach of the Year.

Griffin returned to Okaloosa-Walton as the head coach for the 2003 season. He guided the Raiders for six seasons and won 192 games. Okaloosa-Walton posted 41 victories in his first year as head coach and went on to win at least 30 games four times. The Raiders never compiled a losing record under Griffin. Over 100 former Raiders signed with four-year schools, 36 inked professional contracts and nine went on to play in Major League Baseball.

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