Keith Griffin is one win away from his third league championship in four years with the Amsterdam Mohawks.
Taylor Martin (Kentucky) struck out nine and Ed Charlton (NJIT) socked a solo home-run as Amsterdam took game one of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship series 7-1 over the Glens Falls Golden Eagles on Tuesday night at Shuttleworth Park.
Amsterdam can clinch the title Wednesday night at East Field in Glens Falls in game two of the best-of-three series. The Golden Eagles must win to stay alive and force a game three on Thursday night back in Amsterdam.
An electrified and rambunctious crowd rocked the old ballpark and helped boost the Mohawks onto their 38th overall win of the season. The #6 nationally ranked Mohawks went 35-12 in the regular season and have now won three out of their four post-season games.
The game was much closer than the final score made it appear. The two teams were 0-0 into the sixth inning. And Amsterdam was clinging to a 3-1 lead in the seventh and eighth as the Golden Eagles were just one key bases-loaded hit away from tying or taking the lead.
Danny Brennan (St. Louis) for Glens Falls lined out to Giuseppe Papaccio (Seton Hall) at shortstop with the bases-loaded in the seventh which was turned into an inning-ending double-play to end a big scoring threat and keep Amsterdam on top 3-1. Chase Williamson (Auburn) was on in relief to benefit from the key defensive gem.
Martin excelled in his postseason debut. He lasted into the seventh inning before making way for the bullpen after 100 pitches. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and only gave up three total hits in the game for his second consecutive start. His official line for his six inning stint included one earned run that scored after he left the game with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Amsterdam was having equal difficulty getting anything going against Ryan Peterson (Yavapai) with only one single through the first five innings. But Amsterdam's second hit of the game was a biggie. Ed Charlton (NJIT) hit a one-out, sixth inning solo bomb over the Chain Monster in left field to bring the fans out of their seats as he propelled Amsterdam to the 1-0 advantage.
Charlton hit seven home-runs in the regular season to finish one away from the league high.
The Mohawks made it 3-0 after the inning was extended by a two-out error at third on a misplayed ground-ball to Alberto Morales (Clarendon). Zak Colby (Faulkner) singled home Papaccio from second and then Jeff Limbaugh (Parkland) drove around Colby.
Taylor Martin returned for his seventh inning of work but would not make it through the frame as Glens Falls loaded up the bases with nobody out in their biggest threat of the evening. Kevin Meyers (NE Okla A&M) singled into the left-field corner and then Brandon Matthews (Yavapai) walked. J.P. Rousseau laid down a sacrifice bunt but the throw from Martin after fielding the ball pulled first-baseman Jeff Limbaugh off the bag and suddenly the Golden Eagles were on the verge of potentially tying the game.
Keith Griffin turned to Chase Williamson, who lead the league with eight saves, to quash the threat. After throwing a runner at home on a grounder, Williamson allowed an RBI single to Casey Rodrigue that drove in Matthews making the score 3-1 in the seventh. And Glens Falls still had the bases loaded with only one out.
But Danny Brennan's smash liner that was a bid to potentially score two was instead intercepted by Papaccio who then fired to third to double-off the runner Brennan on a huge play that ended the inning.
Amsterdam narrowly had preserved their 3-1 lead.
The Mohawks were finally able to salt the game away in the eighth with a four-run rally that began with a leadoff double off the fence in left by Papaccio. Golden Eagles Reliever Ryan Skoubo (Tacoma CC) recorded one out but then uncorked a wild pitch and walked Limbaugh. He was removed for Jake Doller (Kansas State).
But another wild pitch from Doller would allow Papaccio to score making it 4-1 and then after D.J. Hoagboon (U. Albany) walked it would be Brian Ruby (Binghamton) delivering an RBI double down the left-field line against the drawn in infield followed by Josh Nethaway (U. Albany) finishing the big rally with a two-run single into left.
The four-run rally in the eighth extended Amsterdam's lead to 7-1 and set things up for Connor Kaden (Wake Forest) to close out the victory with a perfect ninth.
Amsterdam and Glens Falls are meeting in the post-season for the fifth year in a row but this is their first championship matchup against each other.
The Mohawks have eliminated the Golden Eagles from the playoffs in each of the last three seasons but this is the first time they have faced each other in the championship series. Previously, Amsterdam and Glens Falls would be in the same division and would meet each other in a divisional playoff round. But this year, the PGCBL switched to a format with no divisions and all nine teams were competing against each other in the standings. Amsterdam and Glens Falls finished one-two in the regular season and were able to avoid each other in the opening round thus setting up the big championship showdown between the two rivals.
The first-place Amsterdam Mohawks (35-12) reached the 2012 championship series with a two games to one victory over the fourth-place Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs in the opening round.
The second-place Glens Falls Golden Eagles (27-20) advanced with a two-game sweep of the third-place Newark (N.Y.) Pilots last Friday and Saturday.
The series heads to East Field for game two on Wednesday night. Albany native Chris Kalica (Fairfield) makes the start for the Mohawks in the potential championship clinching game. If Glens Falls wins, then game three will be back in Amsterdam on Thursday night.
Catch the Mohawks in their drive to win their sixth championship all-time with the broadcast Wednesday night at 6:45pm on ustream.tv/channel/mohawksradio . Game-time at East Field is scheduled for 7:00.