LITTLE FALLS, NY—Both the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs and the Newark Pilots are in a major battle for playoff seeding. For Mohawk Valley, it’s whether or not they will travel for their one-game playoff against Albany. For Newark, it’s where they’re going to travel: either to top-seeded Elmira or second-seeded Utica.
Saturday night at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Little Falls, the Pilots got what they wanted as Chase Cockrell knocked a solo home run that would turn out to be the difference, as the Pilots knocked off Mohawk Valley, 4-3.
The Pilots would get on the board first on an RBI single by Sam Fragale (Pittsburgh, PA/Virginia Tech University) with the bases loaded in the third that would score Julian Gallup (Amsterdam, NY/Niagara University). Darian Herncane (State College, PA/Binghamton University) would extend the lead on a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Chris Sharpe (Burlington, MA/UMass-Lowell).
Michael Ketchmark’s (Dallas, TX/Dartmouth College) shot to left field would break the scoreless streak for the Diamond Dawgs, as his RBI single in the fifth would score Drew Arciuolo (Milford, CT/Fairfield University). That would be all that starter Skyler Defer (Water Valley, MS/Northeast Mississippi CC) would give up for the Pilots, however, as he would force Tanner Leeknecht (Billings, MT/Treasure Valley CC) to pop out to end the inning.
The Pilots’ lead would revert back to two just two pitches into the sixth, as Cockrell (Bastrop, LA/University of Mississippi) would park a ball from reliever Shane Reardon (Kinnelon, NJ/Southern New Hampshire University) in the center field bleachers to make the score 3-1.
Defer would make it all the way to the seventh inning before being pulled for Xan Reese (Saltillo, MS/Northeast Mississippi CC). Reese would immediately hit Leeknecht to load the bases, and Andrew Turner (King of Prussia, PA/Long Island University-Brooklyn) would make him pay with a two-RBI single that would score Kevin Radziewicz (Cromwell, CT/Fairfield University) and Mac Crispino (Avon, CT/Fairfield University) and tie the game. That would be all Reese would give up, however, as shortstop Jordan Swiss (Petoskey, MI/Saginaw Valley State University) would make an acrobatic catch to end the inning.
The Pilots would retake the lead after Cockrell hit a sacrifice fly off of reliever Spencer Bunting (Rocky Hill, CT/Marist College) to center field that would score Herncane, who tripled to start the eighth inning.
That would be all closer Brian Dolan (Lowell, MA/UMass-Lowell would need, as he would only allow two baserunners in the bottom of the ninth to close the book on the Diamond Dawgs (27-20).
Loukas Bechakas (East Amherst, NY/Niagara County CC) would pick up the win for the Pilots (28-20). Bunting would be saddled with the loss, while Dolan picked up the save for Newark.
The Diamond Dawgs finish off their 2016 regular season on the road, with a doubleheader against the Glens Falls Dragons. Those games could determine whether Mohawk Valley stays at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Little Falls for the playoffs or they have to travel to Bob Bellizzi Field in Albany for Monday’s one-game playoff.
The Pilots, on the other hand, are in a battle with the Jamestown Jammers for the third seed with all the seeds in the PGCBL determined. They will finish up their season at Colburn Park, where they face their potential playoff opponent, the Utica Blue Sox.