Dutchmen edge Mohawks in extra innings

ALBANY – In a wild game that featured five lead changes, it was the Albany Dutchmen that pulled out the 9-8 walk-off win over the Amsterdam Mohawks when all was said and done at Bob Bellizzi Field in Albany Saturday night.

The walk-off win for Albany keeps them alive and forces a definitive third game in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s East division finals.

Game two of the East division final was a far cry from the pitchers duel that transpired in game one at Shuttleworth Park on Friday. The Mohawks and Dutchmen combined for 26 hits in the back-and-forth affair.

“We couldn’t get the lead and stretch it out,” said Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin after the loss. “Every time we got a one-run lead they’d tie it up. Credit to them, they battled back.”

Jose Hernandez got the start for Albany in what was the first home playoff game in Albany Dutchmen franchise history. Hernandez registered a 1.90 ERA during the regular season, with eight of his 10 appearances coming out of the Dutchmen bullpen. The PGCBL regular season leader in RBIs, Dylan Smith, powered home the games first runs with a two-run home run to straight away center field, scoring Kyle Barrett who walked and stole a base to lead off the inning.

The Mohawks first lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Amsterdam starter Rich Vrana struggled after setting the Dutchmen down 1-2-3 in the first. Wearing jersey number 24 instead of his usual number 16 on Saturday, Vrana didn’t resemble the pitcher who went 6-0 with a 1.41 ERA in the regular season for Amsterdam.

Zach Remillard dumped a ball into shallow right for a single to get the second inning going for Albany. Vrana then allowed a single to Chris Suseck. Two batters later, Fonda-Fultonville graduate Luke Nethaway crushed a three-run shot to left-center field to give Albany the early lead. Brad Noland doubled to start the third inning for the Dutchmen and would come around to score on an RBI single off the bat of first baseman and 2013 PGCBL Home Run Derby champion Matt Dacey, giving Albany a 4-2 advantage. Vrana would be pulled after the third, with Christian Bartholomew coming out to pitch the fourth inning. Vrana gave up four earned runs on six hits in his three innings of work.

The Mohawks got to Hernandez in the top of the fourth to retake the lead. Four straight Mohawks hit their way on to start the inning. John Nogowski started the merry-go-round with a double into the right field corner. Smith, Josh Gardiner, and John Sansone all followed with singles, the latter of the two each knocking in a run for the Mohawks to tie the game at four apiece. Jordan Ebert hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Gardiner, giving the Mohawks a 5-4 lead before Hernandez got out of the inning with a double play.

The Dutchmen bounced right back in the home half against Bartholomew. After retiring a batter, Bartholomew allowed three straight to reach. Nethaway drew a walk and Nick Morton singled before both men successfully executed a double steal to put two in scoring position. Anthony Marks grounded to Sansone who fielded the ball cleanly but couldn’t throw out the speedy Dutchmen center fielder. Nethaway scored on the play. The next batter, Noland, bounced into a fielders choice to push across another run as the lead changed hands once again.

In the top of the fifth, for the second straight inning, the Mohawks slashed three straight hits and loaded the bases before an out was recorded by the Dutchmen. Hernandez would give way to Bryan Carr after the third hit of the inning, a single by Ed Charlton. Carr quickly walked Nogowski on four pitches to force in a run, tying the game 6-6. The Mohawks took yet another lead on a sacrifice fly by Smith.

Dylan Dwyer, normally a starting pitcher for the Mohawks, came out for the fifth inning and allowed two hits and a run that tied the game 7-7.

The game remained tied until the seventh inning when Amsterdam’s Smith smacked a double to deep left-center off Albany reliever Jimmy Davitt, scoring Nogowski who reached the at bat prior on a dropped third strike by Nethaway.

The double was Smith’s third hit of the game and the RBI was his fourth.

Once again, the Dutchmen could not be held down for long. After tossing a perfect seventh inning, Amsterdam reliever Zach Quayle hit a batter and allowed an RBI double to Nethaway in the eighth to even the score at eight. The score would stay gridlocked through nine, forcing extra innings in Albany.

In the bottom of the tenth, Jeremy Soule walked Remillard on five pitches to put the winning run on base. After Chris Suseck advanced Remillard with a sacrifice bunt, Justin Brock reached on an infield single that sent Remillard to third. Nethaway walked to load the bases with one out for pinch hitter Brian Ruhm who slapped a slow roller to Gardiner at second. Gardiner fired home wide of the plate but Kevin Guthrie held on for the force out. Anthony Marks dealt the final blow, chopping a ball just over the head of Brian Ruby as Brock scampered home for the winning run.

After the tough loss, Griffin didn’t seem overly concerned.

“I feel fine. I think we’ll be okay,” said Griffin. “We’ve got home field advantage. That’s why we worked hard all year to get home field advantage. We’ve got Trey Wingenter [pitching] tomorrow. I feel good about our chances.”

The deciding game will be played today at 7:05 p.m. at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam with Amsterdam in search of their fifth straight league final.

The winner will face West Division champion Elmira, which finished off a two-game sweep of West Division regular-season champion Watertown, 7-3, on Saturday.

Albany 9, Amsterdam 8, 10 innings

Amsterdam200 320 100 0 – 8 13 0

Albany031 210 010 1 – 9 13 0

Vrana, Bartholomew (4), Dwyer (5), Quayle (7), Kalica (9), Soule (10) and Guthrie; Hernandez, Carr (4), Davitt (6), Belcher (8) and Nethaway