On Wednesday night the Mohawks watched the opposition walk off with a win for the first time this summer. Fortunately for Amsterdam, Brett Houseal (Marist) took the hill on Thursday morning – 11 AM first pitch – and quickly swung the momentum back in the Hawks’ favor. Houseal was touched for a mere two runs over five innings of work and watched the bullpen nail down a 6-3 Mohawks win in Newark on Thursday afternoon.
Starting pitching has been the glue of the Newark Pilots success in 2011 – two Pilot starters are in the top five in ERA – but the blue and white sent a new face to hill on get-away day and he quickly came undone. Matt Mika (St. John Fisher) made his first appearance of the season for the Pilots and was sent packing after just an inning of work.
Andrew Green (East Tennessee State) welcomed Mika to the Perfect Game League by driving his second offering of the ballgame over the right-field fence. After a couple of quick outs, the Hawks continued to pounce on the righty out of Victor, NY. Luke Maile (Kentucky) singled and advanced to third on a throwing error by right-fielder Luke Swenson (UC Santa Barbara), and Parker Morin (Utah) refused to let Mika off the hook as the catcher laced a single into right field for a blink-of-the-eye 2-0 lead.
Jude Vidrine (Lamar) made the score 3-0 when he scorched an RBI double up the gap in right-center to score Zach Shank (Marist) in the fifth.
Houseal (5-0) was not at his sharpest when he took the hill on Thursday morning, but the 6’3” righty gritted his way through five innings after striking out four and benefiting from a couple of crucial double plays, he allowed seven hits and did not walk a batter.
In the fifth, the righty was touched for a couple of runs on three hits as he was victimized by run-scoring singles off the bats of both Matt Vera (San Juaquin Delta) and Swenson to cut Newark’s deficit to one, 3-2.
A head coach is never confident with a one-run advantage, but Keith Griffin’s nails must be longer than each of his counterparts in the Perfect Game League this summer as his bullpen has amassed an ERA below 2. On Thursday, they were even better than that. The duo of Will Kendall (Auburn) and Derrick Brewer (Radford) did not allow a hit over three scoreless innings of relief, allowing the Hawks to carry that 3-2 advantage into the ninth inning.
Unlike last night when the Mohawks could not pad their one-run lead in the ninth, Zach Sank stepped to the plate, with Demarcus Henderson (Mississippi State) on second base, and laced a run-scoring single into right-field to widen Amsterdam’s lead to two, they were not finished. Vidrine was hit by a pitch – the second time he was plunked in the game – to put two on for Luke Maile. The sophomore out of Kentucky welcomed Shane Herald to the mound by lofting a ball off the glove of centerfielder Michael Bolling (Lewis) in deep centerfield to put the game out of reach.
Abram Williams (Radford) came on and allowed an unearned run without surrendering a hit to lock down a 6-3 win at Colburn Park.
The game was originally scheduled to begin at Noon, but was pushed up to 11:00 AM in an attempt dodge some of the excruciating heat that has blistered western New York all week.
The win moves Amsterdam to 23-14 on the summer while the Pilots stumble to 19-16.
The Mohawks are home tomorrow evening at 7:00 when they host Mohawk Valley at Shuttleworth Park.