The only two games that made it through the inclement weather across the state Saturday would be the only two games that mattered for playoff positioning.
Auburn Doubledays 1, Elmira Pioneers 0
Coming into Saturday, the Doubledays (23-19) sat a half game out of fourth place in the West and the last spot in the PGCBL playoffs after their Friday night run-rule loss to last place Geneva. They responded in a big way however, defeating Elmira (27-17-1), who entered with a half game lead of first place in the division.
The lone run of the contest was scored in the bottom of the second, as Kevin Dolan (Brockport) dropped a squeeze bunt down the first base line that allowed Michael Whooley (Villanova) to score from third.
Elmira’s first three baserunners would be wiped out via double plays, and the Pioneers wouldn’t leave a baserunner on at the end of an inning until the sixth. They would put two runners on in each inning the rest of the way, but just one single- that led off the seventh- was the only hit they would have in those innings.
Even though Auburn’s trio of pitchers in Cooper Polcovich (Potomac State), Devin MacWatters (Charleston Southern), and Michael Sills (Wofford) may have struggled with their control- walking eight on the night- they were dominant otherwise, striking out 13 en route to the combined two-hit shutout. Polcovich, the Auburn native, delivered his best start of the year, going six innings, allowing the two hits and three walks while striking out a season-high nine. MacWatters bridged the seventh to the closer Sills, who picked up his league-high save with his final two innings of work.
With the results of their contest and the Batavia-Niagara game still in action, Auburn moved into fourth and Elmira slipped into second for the time being as all attention turned to Dwyer Stadium…
Batavia Muckdogs 9, Niagara Power 2
When the game ended at Falcon Park in Auburn, the Muckdogs (27-16) held an 8-1 lead over Niagara (22-19-2), commanding control they would not relinquish.
Batavia took their dominating lead in the bottom of the third, putting up half a dozen runs on two hits and a number of Niagara gifts. The Muckdogs loaded the bases off two walks and a hit by pitch with one out when Giuseppe Arcuri (St. Leo) singled in Cristian Bernardini (St. John’s) for the first run and Josh Leadem (University of Rochester) followed with a walk that brought in Brice Mortillaro (Georgia Southwestern State) for the second. A wild pitch allowed Lucas Lopez (St. Thomas University) to score to make it 3-0, and after a walk to Kyle Hetherington (Lipscomb) reloaded the bases, Matt DeStefano (Stony Brook) cleared them all with a double to right-center to push it to 6-0.
Niagara stranded the bases loaded in the fourth before cashing in in the fifth. Andrew Fairbrother (Tiffin University) drew a one-out walk that scored Jason Rodriguez (NCCC), but Michael Pedraza (Kentucky State) came on and got a strikeout and popout to retire the side.
Batavia would get that run right back in the home half, as a dropped fly ball would allow Leadem to score from second to bring the lead back up to six. Leadem would score his third run of the game in the bottom of the seventh on a Lewis Aguila Jr. (Florida Memorial) sacrifice fly, and the Muckdogs lead extended to 8-1.
Andrew Stillinger (NCCC) would single in Jackson Strong (Canisius) in the top of the eighth to make it an 8-2 ballgame, but Chad Falcon (St. John’s) would get the run right back for the Muckdogs with a single of his own in the bottom of the eighth.
Garrett Beaver (Salisbury) came on and struck out the side for the Muckdogs in the ninth, locking in the #1 seed in the West Division for Batavia while ending Niagara’s summer.
Batavia would register just six hits themselves on the evening, but Leadem’s three walks would allow him to score three times, while six other Muckdogs scored a run. DeStefano had the biggest hit with the bases-clearing double, and #10 hitter Caleb Rodriguez (Kean University) would be the only one to register a multi-hit game.
Utica Blue Sox @ Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs
Albany Dutchmen @ Glens Falls Dragons
Watertown Rapids @ Oneonta Outlaws
Geneva Red Wings @ Newark Pilots
Amsterdam Mohawks @ Saugerties Stallions
That concludes a fantastic regular season across the PGCBL, as playoff baseball is set to begin Sunday with the East Division Quarterfinals and West Division Semifinals.