Mohawks win playoff opener, 8-7

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Mohawks began their postseason drive toward a third-straight Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship in walk-off fashion Friday night at Shuttleworth Park.

The Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth inning to tie the East Division championship game at 7.

The Mohawks made the most of a lead-off walk to John Razzino in the bottom of the ninth.

Razzino was off and running, stealing second and third before scampering home with the game-winner on Alex DeBellis’ grounder to short for the 8-7 victory.

“[Razzino] is a tremendous athlete,” Amsterdam coach Keith Griffin said. “When they walked him I thought we had a tremendous chance. He stole second and third and Alex hung in there really well with two strikes and came through with the hit.”

The best-of-three division championship series continues today at Veteran’s Memorial Field in Little Falls with the series returning to Shuttleworth Park Sunday if a third game is necessary.

The opening game of the West Division championship series between Newark and Elmira was rained out.

The Mohawks wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.

Jonathan Pryor connected for a ground-rule double and came around to score on Razzino’s sacrifice fly to deep center field for a 1-0 advantage.

The Mohawks pounded out five hits, including doubles from Razzino, Joe Purritano and Joey Aiola in the bottom of the third to build the lead to 6-0.

The DiamondDawgs broke up the shut out bid in the top of the fourth with Zach Collett leading off with a single and coming around to score on Trey Stover’s single to make it 6-1.

Mohawk Valley threatened a big inning in the top of the fifth by taking advantage of a pair of Amsterdam errors to score twice, cutting the Mohawks’ lead to three.

The Mohawks got a run back in the bottom of the inning as Tommy Kain led the inning off with a single and came around to score on Purritano’s second double of the game to take the lead to 7-3.

With Amsterdam starter E.J. Ashworth lifted in the top of the eighth, the DiamondDawg hitters jumped on relievers Daniel Castro and Zach Breen for four runs highlighted by Eric Strano’s bases-clearing triple.

Strano also scored on the play, tying the game at 7-7, as Josh Gardiner’s throw to third sailed into the DiamondDawgs’ dugout.

“Very uncharacteristic of our bullpen,” Griffin said. ” I don’t think we gave up four runs all year.”

The DiamondDawgs threatened again in the top of the ninth when Colin Hawk doubled down the left-field line off John McCarren but could not come up with the timely hit to score Hawk.

Razzino worked the count to draw a lead-off walk from Lucas Godlewski.

Godlewski was lifted for Matt Pidich with no outs and with Kain at the plate, Razzino was off and running.

“[Coach Griffin] said to me that a new guy was coming in and he was kind of slow to the plate so I took off on the first pitch,” Razzino said. “Once I was on second I saw them put down a sign and knew he was throwing a breaking ball so I swiped third. Once you are on third with no outs it is tough for them to stop you.”

After falling behind 3-1 in the count, Kain was intentionally walked to bring DeBellis, who had struck out twice and flied out in the game.

DeBellis took the count to 2-2, including a long drive that went just foul down the right-field line, before hitting a hard grounder to Hawk at short stop. Hawk made a strong throw to the plate but Razzino, who was running on contact, dove across the plate for the score and an 8-7 victory.

“Griff said to me we have a guy on second and if I get thrown out we will still have a guy on third so put your head down and go as hard as you can and I ended up scoring,” Razzino said.

DeBellis said he was just trying to put the ball in play.

“I just happened to be the one up in the game situation,” he said. “I just put the ball in play and was lucky Razzino stole second and third; he is the real hero of the game.”

The Mohawks will now try to lock up a fourth-straight trip to the PGCBL championship game tonight in Little Falls.

“This was a good walk-off win and hopefully built some momentum going into [today],” Griffin said.

Amsterdam 8, Mohawk Valley 7

Mohawk Valley000 120 040 – 7 9 0

Amsterdam105 010 001 – 8 14 4

Lewicki, Godlewski (3), Petrella (9) and Strano; Ashworth, Castro (8), Breen (8), McCarren (9) and DeBellis.