The East Division Semi-Finals and West Finals went down on Monday night, and it was a truly exciting slate of games.
Amsterdam Mohawks 7, Saugerties Stallions 6 (East Semi-Final)
After an early-game scare, the Mohawks came back to once again reach the East Division Final.
The Stallions began the scoring in this contest, and it didn’t take long at all. Centerfielder Andrew Amato (Delaware), a standout player in the PGCBL this season, began the game with a solo home run, giving Saugerties a super quick 1-0 edge. The Stallions would then rally, and a couple of runs later, they had a 3-0 advantage and immediately put Amsterdam on upset watch. After this rally, their only other run before the late innings came on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Ethan Conrad (Marist), who had three hits in the game.
While the Mohawks could have wilted under pressure, they stayed resilient and decided a slow comeback was the way to go. Staying consistent, Amsterdam put up exactly one run in the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to give them a 6-4 lead heading into the eighth. A Gage Miller (Alabama) home run was the big highlight and helped to get the offense going. First baseman Luke Longo (NJIT) made a strong contribution, with two hits and an RBI.
Down 6-4 heading into the eighth, Saugerties had the pressure reversed onto them, which turned out to be no big deal. With one runner on and one out, first baseman Corey Dowdell (Georgia Southern) smacked a 2-run home run to tie the game at six. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t last long, as the resilient Mohawks re-took the lead in the bottom half the inning thanks to an RBI single from centerfielder Jalen DeBose (Florida Atlantic), who led the team with four hits in the game. This hit was the difference-maker, and the Mohawks would hold on right there at 7-6.
Evan Siary (Mississippi State) picked up the victory for Amsterdam, pithing 3.2 innings in relief, allowing two runs, and striking out four. Jack Seppings (Brown) struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth to earn the save.
Utica Blue Sox 3, Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs 2 (East Semi-Final)
A Blue Sox walk-off made this playoff game an instant classic in front of the Utica crowd to advance them to the East Final.
After two scoreless innings, Mohawk Valley put themselves on the scoreboard first, on RBI singles by centerfielder Jaden Ross (South Florida) and catcher Mitch Balint (Carson-Newman), both stars for the DiamondDawgs this summer. In the bottom half of the third, Utica would cut this 2-0 deficit in half, as center fielder Easton Brenner (Lafayette) would come home on a putout.
After holding at 2-1 for a while, the Blue Sox would re-energize their crowd in the bottom of the seventh, when first baseman Will Shannon (Hillsdale) came up big with an RBI single to tie the game at two. The score would hold here for the next few half-innings, and this game would head to the bottom of the ninth still tied at two apiece.
The bottom of the ninth would instantly swing in Utica’s way, with DH Ben Partridge (Rockland CC) beginning the inning with a single. Then, after an infield hit and error put Partridge on third base, third baseman Norris McClure (Spring Hill) came through with the biggest hit of the Blue Sox season, an RBI single to give them the 3-2 victory to advance to the East Final.
Brandon Scott (Hillsdale) picked up the win for the Blue Sox, pitching the final five innings scoreless with three strikeouts.
Elmira Pioneers 4, Auburn Doubledays 1 (West Final)
The Pioneers shut down the Doubledays bats to become the West representative in the 2023 PGCBL Championship.
After five innings, the contest was as tight as can be, still 0-0 with little to no signs of life – but in the bottom of the sixth, Elmira would come through to grab momentum. After a leadoff double by third baseman Joe Muzio (Eckerd), Elmira second baseman Chris Bear (Northern Essex CC) came through big time with an RBI single to put Elmira up 1-0.
The next inning, after Auburn continued to add zeros onto the scoreboard, the Pioneers showed the power in their offense that allowed them to make it this far. A 2-run double by Muzio started off the scoring, putting Elmira up 3-0, and directly after him, catcher John Schroeder (Florida Atlantic) brought him home on an RBI single to make it 4-0.
In the top of the eighth, Auburn scored their lone run in the contest, an RBI single by first baseman Garrett Prosper (Pitt-Johnstown). Doubledays third baseman Michael Whooley (Villanova) reached base three times to help to effort, but the offense would be held there.
Devin MacWatters (Charleston Southern) and Andrew Isdale (Northern Colorado), the two Auburn pitchers, combined to give up just one earned run while striking out 14 Pioneers. However, Pios starter Max Zentil (Ottawa) was the hero, pitching all nine innings, allowing one run and striking out six to earn the win.
Elmira will now await the winner of Amsterdam-Utica for its Finals opponent.