Mohawks advance to East Division title series

Saugerties Stallions’ catcher Hayden Travinski leaps for a high throw as Amsterdam Mohawks’ coach Keith Griffin celebrates as Michael Turconi slides across the plate to score on Richie Barrella’s double in the third inning of Thursday’s opening round game of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League playoffs at the Rao Family Stadium at Shuttleworth Park. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

AMSTERDAM — The Amsterdam Mohawks are heading back to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League East Division championship game.

Fueled by strong performances on the mound from Dylan Smith and David Harrison, the top-seeded Mohawks defeated Saugerties 6-4 at Rao Family Stadium at Shuttleworth Park to advance to the best-of-three East Division title series against the Albany Dutchmen. The series opener is tonight at Rao Family Stadium at Shuttleworth Park with first pitch scheduled for 6:40.

“This was a really good win,” Amsterdam coach Keith Griffin said. “Dillon went out and got after them really good. Then Harrison was really good on the back end of it. It was a really well played game by both teams and we were lucky enough to come out with the win.”

The Dutchmen advanced to the title game with a 9-5 victory over the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs.

In the PGCBL West, the Adirondack Trail Blazers eliminated the West Division champion Utica Blue Sox 10-4, while Geneva advanced with a 5-4 win over Elmira.

Amsterdam (34-13) got off to a quick start with Dalton Reese singling on the first pitch offered by the Stallions’ starter Lane Miller. Reese advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch before crossing the plate on Mitch Hartigan’s ground out to the right side for a quick 1-0 lead.

Smith kept the Saugerties hitters in check allowing only one hit through the first three innings.

The Mohawks backed up Smith’s efforts with a four-run third inning.

Reese connected for a one-out double before Hartigan drove him in with a triple. Hartigan was awarded home on an overthrow from the outfield that sailed out of play. Matt Padre worked the count for a walk and Michael Turconi followed with a single. The both scored on Richie Barrella’s double to give the Mohawks a 5-0 lead.

The Stallions got a run back in the top of the fourth when lead-off hitter Norborto Navarro was hit by a pitch. Saugerties loaded the bases with two outs but could only get one runner home and that was on a bases-loaded walk issued to Hayden Travinski to cut the lead to 5-1.

Amsterdam got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Kevin Jimenez and Rook Ellington opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Landon Jordan picked up an RBI with his sacrifice fly to center to put the score at 6-1.

The Stallions came up with a big inning in the top of the fifth.

Max Cotier singled with one out and Navarro followed with a double into the right-field corner. Smith struck out Dillon Lifrieri for the second out. Jake Skrine closed the scoring gap to 6-4 when he blasted a 2-1 pitch over the 390-foot mark in center field for a home run.

“Their kid [Skrine] just really killed the ball so you have to give him credit on that,” Griffin said. “Dillon made a good pitch and he just hit it out of here. That closed the gap and made it really close.”

That was the end of the scoring as the Stallions’ relief pitchers Nolan Burchill and Henry Funaro kept the Mohawks batters in check and Harrison came on in relief of Smith to shut down the Saugerties attack, pick up the save and advance the Mohawks to the division championship game.

“Now we have Albany tomorrow and they have absolutely beat us unlike any group I have ever had,” Griffin said. “We need to go out tomorrow and play well. I told them all we have to do is win five games at at home and we will be the champions.”

PGCBL Playoffs (Opening Round)

Amsterdam Mohawks 6, Saugerties Stallions 4

Saugerties 000 130 000 — 4 7 1

Amsterdam 104 100 00x — 6 11 0

Miller, Burchill (4), Funaro (6) and Travinski; Smith, Harrison (6) and Padre, Franzoni (8).

By Paul Wager

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