Miller making big impact for Mohawks this summer

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Amsterdam Mohawks leadoff hitter Gage Miller swings at a pitch against the Saugerties Stallions during Thursday’s PGCBL game at Shuttleworth Park.

AMSTERDAM — On a team with players from some of the biggest names in college baseball, a player who isn’t from any of those schools is making a big impact for the Amsterdam Mohawks this summer.

With a roster that includes players from Alabama, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Florida State, Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Maryland and Missouri among other Division I schools, it’s a player from Bishop State Community College that is the Mohawks’ top hitter through 32 games.

Gage Miller, who just completed his freshman season at Bishop State, leads Amsterdam with his .394 average through Saturday’s 6-3 win at Albany. Miller also leads the team in hits (39), doubles (10), home runs (5) and runs scored (34). He also leads the team in OPS (1.150) and slugging percentage (.646). He also is second on the team with 25 RBIs and is second with a .504 on-base percentage.

Through Saturday, Miller’s average was second in the PGCBL, while he led the league in runs scored. He also was third in the PGCBL in doubles, fourth in home runs and fifth in RBIs.

“He’s as good a player as anyone from any of the big schools and better than most,” Amsterdam Mohawks coach Keith Griffin said. “I’m happy to have him on our team this summer.”

How Miller wound up in Amsterdam is a story unto itself.

Miller, who is from Palmyra, Pennsylvania, originally committed to play for Division II Clarion (Pa.) University after high school.

In his senior season at Palmyra High School, Miller hit .458 with five doubles, five home runs and 26 RBIs. He also drew 21 walks, had a .618 OBP and scored 33 runs.

However, Miller never played for Clarion, instead winding up at Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Alabama.

It was there that Griffin saw Miller play when he served as interim coach at Coastal Alabama-East Community College in an Alabama Community College Conference game between Bishop State and Coastal Alabama. Griffin and Bishop State coach James Hattenstein then talked about Miller playing for Griffin this summer.

“I saw Gage play in the fall when his team played against us,” Griffin said. “He’s a good player. His coach asked if he could play for me this summer and I told him I would let him know by May 1. On May 1, I asked him to come play in Amsterdam, and that turned out to be a good decision for all of us.”

Griffin was coaching at Coastal Alabama, which is located in Brewton, Alabama, after stepping in on an interim basis last fall when longtime head coach Darrell Blevins passed away due to complications from COVID on Aug. 30, 2021. Griffin had previously coached at Coastal Alabama from 1996 to 2002, winning the NJCAA Division II national championship in 1998.

In his freshman season at Bishop State, Miller finished in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories in the conference.

“He had a good season for his college, and he’s having a good season for us,” Griffin said.

He was seventh in the conference with a .391 average, 10th with 61 hits and ninth with 14 doubles. He also tied for first with seven triples, was eighth with eight home runs, seventh with 50 RBIs, fifth in on-base percentage at .500 and first in slugging percentage at .724.

“I’ve got one more year at Bishop State left, and then I’m not sure what’s going to happen after that,” Miller said.

Griffin, who has coached the Mohawks since 2009, led the team to New York Collegiate Baseball League titles in 2009 and 2010. Since 2011, Amsterdam has been part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, winning titles under Griffin in 2014, 2016 and 2019.

Before committing to playing in Amsterdam this summer, Miller didn’t know what to expect.

“I had no clue about Amsterdam or this league,” Miller said. “It’s been a good experience so far though, and I’ve enjoyed it.”

He added that he has learned a lot so far this season.

“Coach Griffin has taught me a lot this season and [coach] Tommy [Murphy] has as well,” Miller said. “They’ve both taught me stuff that I didn’t even know.”

One area Miller wasn’t concerned with was being part of a roster full of players from big-time Division I baseball schools.

“Not really,” he said when asked if playing with Division I players was intimidating. “I play with different people all the time, and I always try to do what I can to help the team win.”

So far this season, that has been plenty.

Miller and the Mohawks lead the PGCBL East Division with a league-best 28-4 overall record. Amsterdam, has won eight straight games and 14 of its last 15 games.

“I love it here. We’re having fun and we’re winning. That’s all I can ask for,” Miller said.

The Mohawks are scheduled to host Albany on Monday at 6:35 p.m. at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.

MOHAWKS NOTCH EIGHTH STRAIGHT WIN

Connor Moore hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to help the Amsterdam Mohawks post a 6-3 victory over the Albany Dutchmen in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contest on Saturday in Altamont.

Hunter Thomas went 3-for-4 for Amsterdam, while Ian Perutz and Gage Miller each had two hits. Cameron Love and Jacob Hand each had a single and scored a run for the Mohawks.

Nick Schwartz had two singles, a double and an RBI for Albany (16-14), while David Silva Jr. had a single and an RBI.

The Mohawks are scheduled to host Albany on Monday at 6:35 p.m. at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam 100 002 102 — 6 10 2

Albany 000 000 210 — 3 6 2

By Paul Wager

Leave a Reply