Mohawks take two from Brewers

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Mohawks did nothing to shirk their reputation as the hottest team in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Friday, taking two games from the Utica Brewers at Shuttleworth Park. The Mohawks furthered their lead in the East division of the PGCBL and have now won 11 of their last 12 games.

The red-hot Mohawks won game one, a continuation of their home opener that was disrupted by rain, by a score of 8-3. They pounded out 10 hits en route to a 5-0 shutout in game two.

“We’ve played well,” head coach Keith Griffin said following the sweep. “Our hitters have really gotten better. I think we’re back to leading the league in hitting. We’ve done some really good things.”

On June 6, one day after the Mohawks’ season opener was halted due to a power outage in Albany, storms washed out the team’s home opener after just one inning of play. On that day Dylan Dwyer gave up two first inning runs before the skies opened up. Amsterdam called on Jeremy Soule to take the hill to start the continuation. Soule gave up just one hit in three solid innings, keeping the Brewers at bay while the Mohawks waited for their opportunity to strike against Utica righty Hunter McIntosh.

Kyle Barrett hit a sacrifice fly that scored Brian Ruby in the bottom of the second inning, bringing the Mohawks within one.

McIntosh lost all control in the fifth, walking four straight Mohawks to start the inning and forcing in the tying run. Ryan Butzer relieved McIntosh but gave up a bases-clearing double to Devin Wenzel. The ball was hit sharply and bounced off Utica third baseman Matt Hendricks’ glove before rolling slowly down the left field line allowing three runs to score. Jordan Ebert grounded into an RBI double play to push across another run, giving Amsterdam a 6-2 lead.

Making his first appearance of the season for Amsterdam was Schenectady County Community College’s Zach Breen. Breen, a right-handed pitcher, was recently added to the roster after infielder Ronnie Bernick left the team. Breen gave up a solo home run to Jay Gonzalez in the sixth but was otherwise perfect in two innings of work.

Amsterdam tacked on two runs in the sixth on the strength of doubles by John Nogowski and Ed Charlton.

Christian Bartholomew and Alex Gagne gave up two combined hits in the final three innings of the game, sealing Amsterdam’s sixth straight victory.

“Our starting pitching’s been good but our bullpen’s been incredible,” Griffin said.

Altogether, Mohawks pitching allowed only four base runners in the eight-inning continuation. The newcomer, Breen, picked up the victory.

Excellent pitching carried over into game two for Amsterdam. Rich Vrana made his fourth start of the season and was outstanding. Vrana’s last start came on July 21 at Adirondack. In that game Vrana allowed just one run and three hits through five innings. Friday night, he was even better. Vrana pitched three perfect innings before giving up two hits in the fourth. Vrana got out of the inning unscathed and pitched a perfect fifth and sixth before his night was complete. In all, Vrana gave up just two hits while walking none and striking out six through six innings of work.

Amsterdam took an early lead when Josh Gardiner singled home two runs in the bottom of the first. Amsterdam threatened in the fourth but couldn’t capitalize. Gardiner led off that frame with another single and made it to second after Brewers right fielder Spencer Mumford fumbled around with the ball. Gardiner advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before Utica starter, Matt Hendricks, induced two fly balls to get out of the inning. Hendricks, who also batted seventh for Utica after playing third base in game one, allowed six hits and just two runs through five innings.

The Mohawks jumped on Utica relief pitching in the later innings for some insurance runs. Zimmer singled home a run in the sixth and Charlton smashed an RBI triple to right-center in the seventh. Nogowski grounded out to score Charlton and give Amsterdam a five run lead.

Chris Kalica pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to make a winner out of Vrana and the Mohawks. The win was Vrana’s team-leading sixth of the season. Keith Griffin praised Vrana’s efforts, saying that he is a guy that could have been an All-Star had there been more time to vote. Zach Quayle lowered his 0.96 ERA by pitching two scoreless frames.

The Mohawks will play another big doubleheader today against the division rival Golden Eagles with the first game scheduled to start at 5:00 in Glens Falls.

Game 1

Amsterdam 8, Utica 3

Utica 200 001 000 – 351

Amsterdam 010 052 00x – 880

McIntosh, Butzer (5), D’Angelo (6) and Livingston; Soule, Breen (5), Bartholomew (7), Gagne (9) and Skinner

Game 2

Amsterdam 5, Utica 0

Utica 000 000 000 – 0 3 3

Amsterdam 200 001 20x – 5 10 0

Hendricks, Hunt (6), Norman (7) and McClellan; Vrana, Quayle (7), Kalica (9) and Guthrie.

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