AMSTERDAM - The Amsterdam Mohawks took a big step toward repeating as Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League champions, beating the Albany Dutchmen 9-4 Sunday to advance to their fifth straight league final.
The season series between Amsterdam and Albany was knotted at five entering Sunday's definitive East Division game three. Seven Dutchmen errors, including two in the first inning, set the tone for Amsterdam's division-clinching victory.
"Tonight's about the Mohawks," said Amsterdam head coach Keith Griffin after the final out. "It ain't about [Albany], it's about us."
Amsterdam’s John Sansone (12) jumps onto home plate as he is greeted by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the Albany Dutchmen in Game 3 of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League East Division championship series Sunday night at Shuttleworth Park. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Griffin has been the head coach for each of the five league finals Amsterdam has reached since 2009, winning three titles along the way. With team rosters drastically changing from year to year, Griffin and his Mohawks have maintained a high level of consistency.
"I've got really good players. Let's not kid ourselves, it's been a total team effort," said Griffin. "I've been the one constant that's been here, but boy, oh boy, you can't do it without players and assistant coaches."
Trey Wingenter took the hill for Amsterdam Sunday. The 6'7'' right-hander battled through six innings, giving up all four of Albany's runs. The biggest blow of the game for Albany came in the third when Matt Dacey crushed a 3-run home run to left field.
The Mohawks sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning against Dylan Collett, aided by two Dutchmen fielding errors. Dylan Smith and Ed Charlton each drove in a run in the inning. Jordan Ebert knocked in Keith Skinner in the second to give the Mohawks an early 3-1 lead. Dacey's blast in the third put Albany ahead as it looked like the crowd was in for yet another seesaw battle.
In the bottom of the third, it was John Sansone that put the Mohawks up for good. After Charlton singled to left to start the inning, Sansone knocked a ball over the left field fence to give Amsterdam a 5-4 lead. Collett was pulled before getting an out in the third.
Amsterdam's relievers were excellent Sunday after struggling mightily on Saturday night in Albany. Zach Quayle, Chris Kalica, and Mike Urbanski combined for three innings of two hit baseball without allowing a run.
The Mohawks took advantage of further sloppy defense by the Dutchmen in the seventh, tallying four insurance runs on just one base hit. Albany fielders threw the ball away at an alarming rate in the inning, allowing Mohawks runners to circle the bases with ease.
"We did some good things and fortunately for us they didn't do some good things defensively that helped a lot that inning," said Griffin.
Amsterdam's closer, Urbanski, allowed two hits in the ninth but induced a series-clinching double play that sent Shuttleworth Park into frenzy.
Sansone had the big hit for Amsterdam but several other players for Amsterdam had nice nights. Ebert and Charlton each tallied two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Kyle Barrett also singled home a run and stole a base.
Brad Noland had a three hit day for Albany and Tyler Orris reached base four times before banging into the game-ending double play.
The Mohawks now stand two wins away from back-to-back PGCBL championships, but will have to get past the West Division champion Elmira Pioneers. Elmira held the worst regular season mark (21-26) of any team to make the playoffs, but have strung together three straight playoff wins to reach the league championship series.
The Mohawks enter the season's final series having won 17 of their last 19 games, discounting a 4-4 tie at Cooperstown in the final game of the regular season. Griffin is optimistic that complacency won't set in with so much on the line.
"We can't think we won it because we're in the finals now," said Griffin. "Elmira's got a good team, they're well coached, and we're looking forward to playing them. If we play hard and play like we're supposed to, I think we'll be in good shape."
Game one of the 2013 PGCBL championship series between Amsterdam and Elmira will be Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. All fans that show up with thundersticks will be admitted to the game free of charge.
Amsterdam Mohawks 9, Albany Dutchmen 4
Albany Dutchmen103 000 000 - 4 10 7
Amsterdam Mohawks212 000 40x - 9 8 0
Collett, Spicer (3), Gallup (7) and Nethaway; Wingenter, Quayle (7), Kalica (8), Urbanski (9) and Skinner