Mohawks hold off Cooperstown, 4-2

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Mohawks were outhit Tuesday night in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contest against the Cooperstown Hawkeyes at Shuttleworth Park, but used a game-saving eighth-inning catch by Ed Charlton to quash a Cooperstown rally and win the game 4-2.

Making his first start of the season for the Mohawks (15-13) was Fairfield University’s Jeremy Soule. Soule entered Tuesday with a 4.22 ERA as an arm out of the bullpen. His taste of life as a starter was short-lived. Soule struggled with his control, walking four straight batters in the second inning. Rich Vrana quickly warmed up in the bullpen and head coach Keith Griffin pulled Soule from the game before he could get out of the second. Vrana struck out Ben Hall to end the inning with just one run in for Cooperstown (11-12). Griffin said he is not afraid to mix-and-match his pitchers when guys don’t have their best stuff.

“I’m just going to have a quick hook,” Griffin said. “We got a bunch of guys that can pitch. That’s just how we’re going to pitch down the stretch.”

Cooperstown starting pitcher Dean White couldn’t find the strike zone either. He walked three of the first four Mohawks he faced, but Amsterdam couldn’t capitalize on a first-inning, bases-loaded situation of their own. Josh Gardiner lined out to first baseman Ryan Donovan, who quickly stepped on the bag to double up Jordan Ebert to put an end to the Mohawks’ threat.

White’s control issues came back to haunt him in the third. After walking two of the first three batters he faced in the inning, Ebert connected on a three-run opposite-field home run that snuck over the right-field wall to give the Mohawks a 3-1 lead.

White continued to struggle with his command. After the Mohawks loaded the bases again in the fourth, White was lifted in favor of Cody Smith. White walked seven Mohawks and hit one in just over three innings of work. Once again, however, the Mohawks couldn’t take advantage. Jordan Ebert banged into a double play to end the inning.

Vrana was dominant in relief for Amsterdam. He allowed just three hits and struck out five Hawkeyes through 4 1/3 shutout innings.

The Mohawks pushed across another run in the seventh after going fairly quietly in the middle innings. Smith issued a leadoff walk to John Sansone, a move that would prove costly. John Nogowski followed up with a single to left, his fourth time on base in the game, before Gardiner smashed an RBI double down the left-field line. Dylan Smith walked to load the bases for Amsterdam, but the Mohawks once again left all three runners on as Smith struck out Brian Ruby swinging to get out of the jam. The Mohawks left base runners on in bunches Tuesday, something Griffin said should not be happening with the talent the Mohawks lineup boasts.

“[We were] anemic offensively. There’s no other way to say it,” Griffin said. “This team should be so good offensively and they’re not very good. They’re not very good and we need to get a lot better. It’s not good enough.”

With the Mohawks leading 4-1, the Hawkeyes were all over Amsterdam reliever Chris Kalica in the eighth. Hall doubled off the wall before pinch hitter Bryce Anglin singled to right to put runners on the corners. Nate Lotze then smacked the first pitch he saw from Kalica down the right-field line for a double, plating one to bring Cooperstown within two. Mike Urbanski came on in relief after an uncharacteristically bad outing for Kalica. Urbanski struck out Austin March before Donovan drilled a ball to the deepest part of the ballpark. Ed Charlton sprinted and laid out just before reaching the wall in center, making an amazing catch that saved two runs and the lead for Amsterdam. Griffin emphasized the importance of Charlton’s gem of a grab.

“It could be a season-making catch,” Griffin said. “It was as good a catch as anybody will make all year in this league. What a great catch at a much-needed time with tying runners on. All the credit goes to Ed with that catch.”

For Charlton, highlight reel grabs in the outfield aren’t exactly out of the ordinary.

“That’s what I’m out there for. If there’s a ball I can dive for, I usually try to,” Charlton said. “As soon as it was hit, I was trying to get to the fence because I knew it was hit pretty damn good. Once I got toward the fence, I looked up and it was pretty much right there.”

Urbanski, the de facto closer for Amsterdam, struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the 4-2 victory.

The Mohawks, winners of two straight, travel to Albany tonight to take on the Dutchmen at 7:05 p.m. The Dutchmen will turn around and come to Amsterdam Thursday to finish the 5-5 ballgame that was suspended due to rain last Friday. That game will resume at 6 p.m., with the regularly scheduled game slated to start soon afterward.

Amsterdam 4, Cooperstown 2

Cooperstown010 000 010 – 2 8 2

Amsterdam003 000 10x – 4 5 0

White, Smith (4), Kibler (8) and Jordan; Soule, Vrana (2), Guthrie (7), Kalica (8), Urbanski (8) and Brennan