LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. – One thing has been constant in the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs' run for a second Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Championship: 4-3. They beat Albany by that score on Tuesday, and took a 1-0 lead over the Amsterdam Mohawks in the East Division Championship Series by that same score.
Thursday night was no different, as Clay Koniencki (Schwenksville, PA/Monmouth) provided some heroics in the 10th inning to give the DiamondDawgs a victory by the same score over the Mohawks, clinching a berth in the 2017 PGCBL Championship Series.
The Mohawks jumped ahead just four batters into the game on an RBI single by Dan Maynard (Burnt Hills, NY/Maryland). That hit to right field scored John Valente (New Rochelle, NY/St. John's), who led off the game with a double down the left-field line.
Amsterdam starter Andrew Saalfrank (Hoagland, IN/Indiana) loaded the bases in the fourth on two walks and an infield hit by Russ Olive (Chelmsford, MA/UMass Lowell). Koniencki made him pay with an RBI single that scored Tim Zeng (Lumberton, NJ/Fairfield), and Ben Porter would come home just one batter later on a passed ball. Unfortunately, it would not get any better for Saalfrank, as the same situation - a single and two walks - loaded the bases again. The Amsterdam southpaw was not be able to reconcile the situation, as he was replaced by reliever Carter Knapek (Albany, NY/UMass). Knapek was able to end the inning, however, and managed to mitigate the damage to one.
Amsterdam tied it up in the top of the ninth on an RBI squeeze play by Robbie Spagnola (Amsterdam, NY/ Hudson Valley C.C.) that scored Chris Hamilton (Schenectady, NY/Stony Brook). The top-seeded Mohawks took the lead, 3-2, on another squeeze play by Valente that scored Julian Gallup (Amsterdam, NY/Niagara).
The DiamondDawgs tied the game up in the bottom of the ninth on a comebacker up the middle by Joe Engel (Downers Grove, IL/Columbia) that was far enough to score Dan Deely (Sonoma, CA/Sacramento State). Luckily for the Mohawks, reliever Elliott Anderson (Cartersville, GA/Auburn) was able to get the next two Mohawk Valley batters out to end the ninth with the score tied at 3-3.
Koniencki would provide the final blow in the bottom of the 10th with looping a ball into right-center field that scored the game-winning run in Olive.
Jonathan Sell (Charlton, NY/Herkimer) picked up the win for Mohawk Valley. Anderson was saddled with the Mohawks' final loss of the season.
The DiamondDawgs advance to the PGCBL Championship Series and will face the Jamestown Jammers. Game one will be either Saturday, August 5, or Sunday, August 6, at Veteran's Memorial Park in Little Falls, N.Y. More information, including dates and times, will be announced in the near future.