Mohawks blank Rams 10-0 in battle of division leaders

AMSTERDAM -On a night when the division leaders of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League squared off, Amsterdam pitcher Connor Johnstone and shortstop Joey Aiola took their games to the next level.

Johnstone struck out seven batters in seven innings of work, while Aiola recorded 11 assists to go with scoring two runs on two hits and drove in two, as the East-leading Mohawks shut out the West-leading Watertown Rams 10-0 Thursday night at Shuttleworth Park.

“Joey has worked hard and has done a good job,” Amsterdam coach Keith Griffin said. “He is a very sure-handed fielder. Javon Shelby and Josh Gardner have gotten the majority of playing time at short and second, but we feel confident when Joey plays there and he played great tonight.”

The Rams (17-12) got their first hit of the game, a double from Nick Moore, but could not capitalize on it as Johnstone stepped up his game to strand Moore on base.

It didn’t take long for the Mohawks to put the Rams in a hole.

Lead-off batter Marcus Carson singled through the right side, stole second and reached third on a throwing error. Carson crossed the plate on Jonathan Pryor’s ground out for a quick 1-0 lead.

Johnstone found his rhythm, allowing only a third-inning single to Shane Servoss, while striking out seven, including five in a row between the fourth and fifth innings.

Meanwhile, the Amsterdam bats pounded out five more runs to build a 6-0 lead after three innings of play.

Tommy Kain wound up on third after a pair of Watertown throwing errors in the bottom of the second. Kain scored on Aiola’s single, while Aiola scored on an RBI single from Pryor for a 3-0 lead.

The Mohawks built on their lead in the bottom of the third when John Razzino and JaVon Shelby connected for back-to-back singles with one out.

Joe Purritano followed with a double down the right-field line to score Razzino, and Shelby scored on DeBellis’ fielder’s choice. Kain lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Purritano to give Johnstone a comfortable 6-0 lead to work with.

Brandon Whitmore came on in relief of Johnstone in the seventh and continued to keep the Rams in check, allowing one hit in two innings of work before turning the game over to Thomas Hackimer in the ninth to close out the win.

Griffin swapped players into the lineup in the later innings, and they responded with a seventh-inning run and a three-run eighth inning that was highlighted by Aiola’s RBI double to help build the 10-0 final score.

“When we play like that we have a good team,” Griffin said. “We have two teams. We have a team that swings the bat really well and one that struggles. The team that shows up that hits well, we have a really good team. What we need to do is stay focused and continue to make improvements. We do that, we have the chance to be a really good team.”

With the win the Mohawks (21-7) opened a three-game advantage over second-place Mohawk Valley, while Watertown held on to a half-game leader over Elmira in the West.

Amsterdam travels to play the Albany Dutchmen tonight and the Glens Falls Golden Eagles Saturday before returning to Shuttleworth Park Sunday for a showdown with the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs.

“We have a rested bullpen and have the guys ready to play,” Griffin said.

Amsterdam 10, Watertown 0

Watertown Rams000 000 000 – 0 3 3

Amsterdam Mohawks123 000 13X – 10 13 0

Rackoski, Simmons (8) and Scholl; Johnstone, Whitmore (7), Hackimer (9) and DeBellis.