Pioneers even series with Mohawks

ELMIRA – The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship series is headed back to Amsterdam.

Wednesday night, the Elmira Pioneers fought back from an early 5-0 deficit to defeat the Amsterdam Mohawks 9-7 and tie the best-of-three championship series at one game apiece.

“We gave it away, but I give them [Elmira] a lot of credit. They played really well,” Amsterdam head coach Keith Griffin said. “They swung the bats and hit our guys really hard. We did a bad job of getting them out. We played awful defense. I thought we swung the bats really well tonight, just we hit the balls right at them. I am encouraged about that.”

The third and deciding game will be played tonight at Shuttleworth Park with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Amsterdam picked up where it left off in Game 1- hitting the ball hard and scoring runs.

John Nogowski got the ball rolling for Amsterdam with a two-out single and Dylan Smith followed with a double. Josh Gardiner worked his way on with a walk to load the bases.

Ed Charlton singled to score Nogowski before John Sansone connected for a three-run double to stake the Mohawks to a 4-0 lead.

Amsterdam tacked on another run in the top of the second.

Kyle Barrett was hit by a pitch, while Jordan Ebert and Nogowski drew walks to load the bases with one out. Smith lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Barrett and push the Mohawks lead to 5-0.

The Pioneers started chipping away at Amsterdam’s lead in the bottom of the second.

Brian Bashara reached base on a fielding error when his fly ball bounced out Ebert’s glove in left field. He came around to score on Matthew Pelt’s infield single to cut the score to 5-1.

The Pioneers got closer with a three-run third inning.

Back-to-back singles by Chris Knott and Ryan Plantier set the table for Dave Hoffman’s sacrifice fly to score Knott. Bashara worked the count for a walk before Colby Gee hit a single to right field that was misplayed, allowing Plantier and Bashara to score, trimming the Mohawks’ advantage to 5-4.

Elmira tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when Taylor Hillson led off with a single and was worked around the bases on bunts from Chris Kalousdian and Parker Curry. Knott drove in Hillson with a single to tie the game at five.

The Pioneers took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Hoffman, Bashara and Gee all singled with no outs. Gee’s hit scored Hoffman with the go-ahead run.

Meanwhile, the Pioneers pitchers were getting the job done on the mound, keeping the Mohawks hitless in the fourth through seventh innings.

The Pioneers continued to play small ball, adding another run in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the eighth to open a 9-5 advantage.

“We have guys in our lineup who are capable of certain things and we have learned that through the summer,” Elmira coach Matt Burch said. “They did a nice job. Dave Hoffman laid down that suicide squeeze bunt and it proved to be the decisive run. We don’t have the bombers so we need to work hard on that.”

They would need almost all of those runs as the Mohawks fought back in the top of the ninth.

With two outs, pinch-hitter Kevin Guthrie delivered a single and Gardiner followed with another hit. Both players came around to score on Charlton’s double to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 9-7.

With the tying run at the plate Elmira pitcher Parker Curry battled John Sansone through a nine-pitch at-bat before earning a game-ending strike out.

“I have no problem how we hit it,” Griffin said. “There has to be an attention to detail when you play in big games – not tighten up. Just need to focus more and we weren’t very focused tonight. As a result, they knocked us down from a 5-0 lead.”

The Mohawks return to Shuttleworth Park tonight for Game 3 with Matt Snyder getting the start for Amsterdam.

“We are going home,” Griffin said. “There is a reason you get home field advantage. It is because you played better than everybody all year. We need to play well to win the game. We did not play well tonight and they did and deserved to win the game.”

PGCBL Championship Series (Game 2)

Elmira 9, Amsterdam 7

Amsterdam410 000 002 – 7 9 4

Elmira013 111 02x – 9 13 2

Kalica, Vrana (4), Wingenter (6), Butler (7), Soule (8), Young (8) and Skinner; Britt, Roma (6), Curry (8) and Hoffman.

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