Amsterdam Mohawks walk-off against Utica Blue Sox in 10 innings to advance to PGCBL Championship Series

Marek Houston dives into home, scoring the winning run for the Amsterdam Mohawks during Tuesday's PGCBL East Division finals in the bottom of the 10th inning, past Utica Blue Sox catcher Alejandro Rodriguez.

Marek Houston dives into home, scoring the winning run for the Amsterdam Mohawks during Tuesday’s PGCBL East Division finals in the bottom of the 10th inning, past Utica Blue Sox catcher Alejandro Rodriguez.

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AMSTERDAM It was the moment Amsterdam Mohawks pitcher Brandon Peterson had been waiting for.

The right-hander got the chance to start the PGCBL’s East Division Championship game against his former team, the Utica Blue Sox, on Tuesday night.

A Utica native, Peterson didn’t disappoint, as he tossed seven innings of scoreless ball. Although Utica rallied to tie the game in the ninth inning, Amsterdam still came away with a 3-2 walk-off victory in 10 innings at Shuttleworth Park.

“I was hoping for them,” Peterson said of Utica. “Obviously, I got a little scared in the eighth and ninth inning, but we didn’t panic, stayed calm and we did what we had to do.”

With the win, Amsterdam advanced to the PGCBL Championship Series against the Elmira Pioneers. The best-of-3 series begins on Wednesday at Shuttleworth at 6:35 p.m. Game 2 of the series will be in Elmira on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. If a Game 3 is necessary, it will be on Friday at Shuttleworth at 6:35 p.m.

“We just need to piece it together,” Mohawks coach Keith Griffin said of his pitching for the series. “We’ve got some good guys lined up for Wednesday and Thursday, and if it goes back to Friday, I think we can have our guys from Monday back.”

The Mohawks took an early lead in the bottom of the second inning, using a sacrifice fly from Marek Houston and RBI single by Zach Eldred to gain a 2-0 advantage.

Peterson never relinquished. The NJIT rising sophomore allowed just two hits and two walks over seven innings, striking out seven.

“I love that place,” Peterson said. “Props to Utica, they played a great game, but it’s ‘go Mohawks’ now.”

“I told him yesterday not to get on social media and start things with anybody,” Griffin said of Peterson going up against his hometown team. “They’re going to want you, and you’re going to want them, so don’t add anything else to it. He handled it perfectly, and we could not have gotten a better-pitched game.

“That’s about as good of a seven innings that you can have pitched. He was in total control. He could’ve stayed out there all night and they wouldn’t have gotten on him, but we had to get him out because of his pitch count.”

Utica took advantage of some fielding miscues by Amsterdam in the top of the eighth to cut its deficit in half, 2-1. After the Blue Sox were down to their final strike twice Pablo Santos drove in the game-tying run in the ninth.

In the top of the 10th, Kyuss Gargett led off for Utica with a single, but was promptly caught stealing by Mohawks catcher Jaxson West, who contributed several other key defensive plays.

“This is what it’s about, right here,” West said of being in position to advance to the championship series. “It’s the culmination of all the things we’ve worked for, the whole summer. It came down to the wire, and we won because of everyone. It’s not my individual play or Brandon’s great outing, it was a team effort all the way around.”

The game went to the bottom of the 10th deadlocked 2-2. Houston led off with a single, then stole second base.

“Marek was disappointed in the way he played,” Griffin said of Houston, who was charged with an error in the eighth inning. “But then he stepped up with the single, stole second and all of a sudden is in position to score.”

Houston advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Eldred. After Jared Johnson was hit by a pitch, placing runner at the corners, Alex Irizarry laid down another bunt, which allowed Houston to score the winning run.

The ball went back to Utica pitcher Avery Cook off the bat, but catcher Alejandro Rodriguez wasn’t able to maintain possession of the ball through the tag, as Houston was called safe. 

“We didn’t just come here to get better,” West said. “We came here to win a championship. This is all we’re focused on right now.”

Benjamin Huckans allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk over two innings of relief for Amsterdam. Ryan Taffe was credited with the win, after a scoreless inning in the 10th.

Holden de Jong started for Utica and allowed two runs over seven innings. He allowed five hits and two walks, with five strikeouts. Cook was charged with the loss for the Blue Sox, surrendering just the one run in the 10th over 2 1-3 innings.

Utica 000 000 011 0 — 2 6 1

Amsterdam 020 000 000 1 — 3 7 1

Contact Kyle Adams at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kasportsnews and on Facebook at Kyle Adams.


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